Having lived in Tokyo for ten years I quite organically built my list of favorite places to go back to. Some of these places featured on the list from the very beginning, others are more recent entries. Either way, they are all “feel good” and inspirational to me and I thought I would like to share them with you chouchous.
1. Jimbocho Book Town
I don’t know about you, but I’m a a chronic bookworm. The older the book, the better. Same goes with paper. Jimbocho is an entire neighborhood of Tokyo packed with second-hand bookstores. You will find everything there, pricy collectables as well as cheap vintage magazines, maps, comics, vinyl records, et j’en passe, et des meilleures. I visit Jimbocho every time I need books and paper to tear up for art projects, and beautiful old photo magazines.
Jimbocho Subway Station (Subway Mita, Hanzomon, Shinjuku Line)
Ochanomizu Station (JR Chuo Sobu , Subway Marunouchi Line)
2. Yanaka Cemetery
Yanaka Cemetery is a peaceful haven in the heart of the city, hosting about 7000 graves. I like to call it the Japanese Père Lachaise. I love taking a soothing stroll in this labyrinth of alleys and old stones, especially in early spring during cherry blossom time.
Nippori Station (JR Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku, Keisei Line)
3. Tokyu Hands
I don’t know what I would do without Tokyu Hands. It is probably the best DIY shop in the world-wide-world, I feel the need to “just drop in” almost every weekend. Seven floors of…. well… just about everything. Anything you are looking for to complete a project, they’ll have it. You are not inspired? Just pick a random floor, explore, and you’ll find your creative happiness.
Shinjuku store – Shinjuku Station, 2min walk from JR New South Exit
Shibuya store – Shibuya Station, 7min walk from Hachiko Exit
For more shops location and information check out the Tokyu Hands Homepage
4. The Zojoji Temple
The Zojoji Temple is located right next to the iconic Tokyo Tower. Its huge gate, the only remaining part of the original massive complex is said to be the oldest wooden structure in Tokyo. The hundreds of Jizo statues, each of them dressed with a bib and holding a pinwheel, will blow your mind with colourful bounty. Try to visit on a windy day, it is simply magical.
Onarimon Station (Mita Subway Line)
Hamamatsucho Station (JR Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku Line)
5. The Tokyo City Flea Market in Oi Keibajo
There are plenty of flea markets around Tokyo, but this one is held every Saturday and Sunday (EVERY Saturday and Sunday!), with more than 600 stands. As a vintage lover it is needless to say that I can spend endless hours browsing the dusty premises (which are nothing but a giant parking lot). In fact I would like to camp there!
Oikeibajo-Mae Station (Tokyo Monorail)
6. Enoshima Island
The tiny offshore island of Enoshima is part of the Kanagawa prefecture and is therefore not a Tokyo sight à proprement parler, but since it is so easy to access from Tokyo I wanted it to feature on my list. Enoshima is rather touristy; the reason I like it is that it seems to be a “condensed” Japan: several interesting shrines, a lot of steep stairs and hidden walking paths, a view of Mount Fuji if the weather is clear, souvenir shops, fishery, caves, aquarium, sandy beaches and Dr.Fish, all of this within only 4km circumference. I always feel like I am on vacation when I visit.
Katase Enoshima Station (Odakyu Line)
For details about transportation and other places of interest around Enoshima (such as Kamakura), check out the Odakyu Railway website
7. Bead Town in Asakusabashi
This photograph might not look like anything that would sell beads and gemstones, but this is indeed where Bead Town is located. Right under, and all along the railway tracks of the Chuo Sobu Line. I love it because of its authentic downtown charm, and because it’s beads paradise! It truly is. If you like to make jewelry or simply want to look at some beautiful gemstones you will easily spend an afternoon there. Every day. I warned you!
Asakusabashi Station (JR Chuo, Subway Toei Asakusa Line)
8. The Asukayama Park (Oji Shrine side)
Tokyo is a huge and crowded metropole to say the least, but to counterbalance that crazy buzz it comes with an impressive amount of peaceful parks where you won’t hear the sound of a car. Having said that, the main part of the Asukayama Park is rather loud and might even lack in patches of green. It does extend to the other side of the Toden Arakawa Streetcar line, and it is that small corner of the park which is worth visiting. As a low key yet classy, elegant neighbour, with fantastic autumn colours.
Oji Station (JR Keihin-Tohoku, Subway Namboku Line)
9. Omiya Bonsai Village
On paper Omiya is not exactly part of Tokyo either, it lies further up in Saitama prefecture, about an hour from the heart of the capital, but I can’t imagine my top ten list without the Bonsai Village. I highly recommend a day trip to Omiya, the bonsai nurseries are a pure delight, wether you are a bonsai enthusiast, interested in Japanese culture, or just want a peaceful walk out of the city. I absolutely love it there. Amazing gardens, amazing trees, your eyes and soul will thank you for the journey.
Omiya Koen Station (Tobu-Noda Line)
10. Kanda by night
Walking around old scruffy neighborhoods during warm summer nights is one of my favorite things. Tokyo certainly doesn’t lack in scruffy neighborhoods, not does it lack in lights. I say Kanda, but Kanda is only one of the numerous towns with interesting night scenery. I usually pick something within the Yurakucho or Yamanote line, along the railway track. You will find a completely new dimension to the city at night, and this will usually be paired with strong smells from every corner of the street. Of food, of course. Tokyo loves to eat.
Kanda Station (JR Yamanote, Chuo, Subway Ginza Line)
I hope you enjoyed this virtual Tokyo tour and that it made you feel like visiting!
À bientôt mes chouchous…