Off the Beaten Dori: Cemetery, Cats, Coffee of Yanaka
For someone who lives and travels solo, it might be a total cliché that I find comfort in being alone- in the solitude of getting lost with my thoughts and letting the wind mess up my hair, at the same time blew my loneliness away.
With a bustling city like Tokyo, where even the parks gets overly crowded sometimes, finding a place to breathe can be quite troublesome. But I discover a place on my new favorite district, where I can have a hundred thousand square meter area all by myself and possibly the reason why it is so quiet and peaceful on this side of the city – Yanaka Cemetery.
Before you conclude how possibly dark, morbid, twisted, or anti-social I am, allow me to tell you (or show you), why I find Yanaka Cemetery quite remarkable.
How can you not be mesmerized with this cemetery? An avenue lined with cherry trees waiting for the perfect time to bloom, a huge tombstone as if declaring the laws of the land, little smiling Buddha statue as if ensuring the happy passage of the dearly departed, the high walls covering the graveyard of Tokugawa-clan where you need to find ways to get a peek, the single tree standing in the middle of tombstone ala “Tree of Life” and the well-fed stray cats roaming around.
Even if I wanted to spend the whole day at the cemetery, it is not possible as I am still in the land of the living and my stomach was growling for food. So I headed to the town very own shopping area- Yanaka Market (Little Ginza).
As I made my way to the market, I kept on seeing cats and sometimes, black ones. I was getting a bit superstitious and thinking that bad luck might be possibly coming my way but these unnecessary worry was completely washed away once I arrived at the market. Why? Yanaka Market is a testament of how much the residence loves their felines, on which I can only conclude is the district official symbol.
The town market is just the usual type that mainly caters for tourist and their endless need for souvenirs, while for most citizens, this market is another haven for local delicacies where patience to fall in line is required. But what really stood out for me is that special, familiar smell that has been my addiction- fresh, brewed coffee. How can you possibly not love this district when they have their own namesake brand of coffee? A hot cup costing 150yen, just glorious!
Yanaka, you are my kind of town.