I left My Heart In Yanaka

Bench, Yanaka Tokyo

How do you get to know a new city? One of my favourite things to do is simply take the time to wander through neighbourhoods, taking in the atmosphere and stopping for a coffee or to take some photos. Yanaka,Tokyo, was the perfect place for this. Bright neon lights and Hello Kitty Sakura flavoured creamy lattes were nowhere to be seen in this peaceful neighbourhood. We set off on foot, using the Lonely Planet walking tour of this area as a loose guide (those things can be quite useful), and I have to say, it was one of the highlights of Tokyo for me. Actually, the whole of Tokyo was a highlight for me, but this was indeed a very lovely morning!

Crossing, Yanaka, Tokyo

Bike and Street, Yanaka

Street and Crossing, Yanaka, Tokyo

I’ve mentioned before that Tokyo was just so different to Beijing, and this was a gorgeous way to see a quieter, more real side of the city. We enjoyed walking down the little streets looking at shops, houses, little temples and shrines.We even stopped by an art gallery owned by a long term expat. It was such a lovely morning. Strangely, I became fascinated with the zebra crossings in Tokyo. In Beijing the white stripes are all so faded everywhere and drivers don’t pay attention to them anyway. In Tokyo the stripes are freshly painted and pedestrians and motorists actually follow the crossing rules.  My only regret is not buying the most perfect, Japanese canvas bag in a sweet, little paper store we stumbled across! I think I may need to go back…

Temple, Yanaka

Japanese Crackers, Yanaka

Japanese House, Yanaka, Tokyo


I loved those little, white crossings so much I even made my very first GIF! This is no Shibuya crossing, that’s for sure!

Yanaka Crossing Gif

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Yanaka Japan


21 thoughts on “I left My Heart In Yanaka

  1. I’ve worked in Japan twice and one of those stints was in Yokohama. So on my off days, I would often explore Tokyo – but mainly Shibuya and to a lesser extent, Harajuku. Actually, I had never heard about Yanaka until this blog entry. Unfortunately, there is so much of Tokyo I haven’t explored as I’ve seen very little of the city’s residential areas. Yanaka looks very, very quiet in those photos. If I’m able to return to Japan, I would love to explore the residential areas of Tokyo.

  2. You’re new blog-style is so pretty. I really like it. I love that you were so into the crosswalks in Japan but totally get it. Chinese people must be so confused by it. I would really like to make it too Japan at some point…. Its so crazy you’re leaving china soon. Enjoy it! Eat some Sichuanese food for me- I’m craving it badly

    1. Thank you so much, Rebekah. Hopefully you get to Japan on your travels at some point. I’ll definitely eat some Sichuanese food for you- I actually said to Justin earlier today that we need to look up the best Sichuan restaurant in Beijing and go there before we leave! I love spicy Sichuan food!

  3. Japan is high on my list for when I start my RTW Trip. My only concern is how expensive I’ve heard that it is. Still gonna give it a go, though 🙂

  4. Whoa, I really didn’t imagine any part of Tokyo to be like, it seems to tranquil and laid back. No wonder you enjoyed yourself so much!

  5. This place looks wonderful! That’s my favourite way to explore a new place too, just wandering around and seeing what you discover! It really does look like the perfect place to do this too!

  6. I loved Japan when I went there but I still haven’t visited Tokyo yet. I never think of this side of Tokyo – the quieter and tranquil neighbourhoods. I think I always imagine the craziness and hustle and bustle of the big city.

  7. Oh I miss Japan so much and Tokyo…
    Those little neighbourhoods are just lovely, there is something so peaceful in some areas of this town that I find amazing. Get to Shibuya and it’s complete chaos, get on a metro, get out a few stops later and you end up in a place like this where it’s just so peaceful.

  8. I love your first gif! And the new look and name of your site. 🙂 I have only been to the airport, sadly in all the layovers we’ve gone though Tokyo, we never had time to explore the city! I do very similar to you, just wander around looking at the city. I also try to stay in a more residential area to get a true feel of life there. Yanaka is not at all how I picturedTokyo, I know where I’ll be staying if I ever make it out of the airport! 😉

    1. Thanks so much Katie! Hopefully you make it out of the airport sometime soon haha. I had been wanting to go to Japan for years and years so I’m so glad I’ve been now and it lived up to my (very high!) expectations of the country too!

  9. Hello! Thanks for this post. We are heading there in May and I am wondering where you stayed? Any recs on hotels in yanaka or kyoto would be very much appreciated!

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