Tokyo Neighborhood: Narrow, Back-Alleys of Kagurazaka


To describe the town of Kagurazaka, Tokyo requires a bit of imagination and yet they are all familiar in a way. Think of Kyoto’s Gion District (if you been there), then remove some Japanese restaurants and replace it with Italian and French ones, keep the mysterious narrow, bendy back alleys and the Geisha performance houses, maybe built some high rise building to tower over the remaining Edo-style houses- the result is one of the Tokyo’s best and yet, once again less explored neighborhood.

The same analogy is what actually makes exploring the streets of Kagurazaka a worthy effort- the mere fact that it is located in Tokyo and yet, you can play hide and seek among the narrow streets and maybe, on a lucky day spot a Geisha walking around.
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka

Arriving at Iidabashi Station (reachable by JR Chuo Sobu Line & Tokyo Metro), there are many exits points towards the district of Kagurazaka, but I will suggest to start the trip by taking the exit towards Ushigome Bridge.
kagurazaka

First, what I like the most about this particular spot is the effort from Japan Railways to ensure that the station itself blend in to the traditional atmosphere of the area, despite the high rise condominium in the background and the RAMLA arcade shop on the side.
kagurazaka
kagurazaka

A walking map reminding of Kagurazaka’s Meiji/Edo era past can be spotted at the bridge area, encouraging street roamers like me to stop for a moment and imagine what the district used to be.
kagurazaka

At the opposite side of the Ushigome bridge is 700m street- Kagurazaka slopes, which is now populated with good Japanese, French and Italian restaurants.
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka

Somewhere at the midpoint of the slope is the Buddhist temple of Zenkoku-ji Temple or more popularly known locally as Bisha-monten Gate.
kagurazaka

Setting aside the wide selection of French breads and wines available at Kagurazaka slope, my fascination with the district lies on the back alleys of Geisha-Shinmichi area.
Used to be a home of 700 Geisha’s but now down to 30, imagining of what it used to be is quite easy, with old houses and narrow stone steps, you could almost hear the clicking of Geisha’s geta sandals against the paved road.
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka

To complete the day, a coffee break at The Canal Café close to Ushigome Bridge is recommended. It is a good spot to view the green canal area, Ushigome Bridge, the moat wall across and JR Chuo-Sobu Line train as it moves in and out the station.
kagurazaka
kagurazaka
kagurazaka

During the late 19th century, considered as the prime era of Kagurazaka, it was mentioned that most novelist, artists and even a former prime minister often visited the area because of the familiar and celebrated “hanamachi” (geisha district) appeal. These days smart women and men often roam around the same streets but they are mainly students of the nearby Tokyo University of Science or the occasional tourists like me reminiscing what the district used to be.
kagurazaka

Another district worth exploring, another reason to love the city of Tokyo.

23 thoughts on “Tokyo Neighborhood: Narrow, Back-Alleys of Kagurazaka

  1. wow! what an excellent post… love the narration, wonderful pics and heartfelt message. thank you for sharing… thanks for the lovely tour and hey, i would love to take coffee by the canal, too! that must have been refreshing to the body and soul… 🙂 warm regards…

    1. i’m using Olympus Pen E-PL2 micro fourthirds camera with 14-42mm lens kit. old model actually.
      if you are shopping for new camera, i would recommend to explore the micro four thirds series, there are a lot of great, new models these days.

    1. me too..
      wherever i go, i’m always looking forward seeing the traditional shop particularly those that has free taste ocha (green tea)! 🙂

  2. Fantastic! Seemed like a long time between posts (though I haven’t been posting very regularly or frequently as of late either), so I was excited to see this in my reader feed. This town looks like it would be one of my favorite areas to visit in Tokyo if I were to visit or live there.

    1. I just now noticed your post on the music box museum and Otaru. No wonder it seemed like such a long time between posts. That one I didn’t see in my reader.

    2. yeah, it is… find myself struggling on updating my blogs after the short holiday break.
      thank you very, very much, i appreciate the fact that you are looking forward to my posts.

  3. Great story and fantastic pictures. Came across your blog because I am staying nearby for 2 days in April. A few hours walking is now planned!

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