Kagurazaka is a small central district of Tokyo that is relatively undiscovered compared to the tourist-packed surrounding areas of Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ueno. With a heavy French influence, the main street through Kagurazaka is brimming with French inspired cafés, restaurants and shops. However, the history of this area dates back to the Edo period and you can still catch a whiff of traditional Japan among the freshly baked croissants. As one of the only remaining geisha districts left in Tokyo, there is always a chance of catching a glimpse of a kimono-clad geisha pottering around the little, cobbled streets and traditional eating and drinking establishments of Kagurazaka. Uncover the hidden wonders of this culture-rich neighbourhood with these 6 things to do.
While most people head to Kyoto for geisha spotting, Kagurazaka is the place to go if you’d like to see one of Tokyo’s few remaining geisha. The reality is that you have to be in the right place at the right time to catch a geisha just wondering the streets, so to guarantee a sighting it’s best to head along to a special event.
Kagurazaka is home to some of the traditional geisha houses that would have been around back in the Edo period. Here you can experience a performance executed by geiko, who are top-level geisha. In stepping back into this traditional establishment you will also be served up a traditional dinner and drinks by one of the geiko.
Kagurazaka is a place to be explored inside out. While the area is small, the winding, cobbled backstreets can make it a maze to get around but a maze worth getting well and truly lost in. A tour of the area will ensure you discover the best parts of the neighbourhood from the many temples and shrines to some of the best shops, cafés and restaurants on offer.
A male geisha is known as a taikomochi and is, of course, much less known than the honoured female geisha. However, that is by no means to say that taikomochi don’t put on an equally beautiful and fascinating show.
All taking place in a traditional tatami room, you will eat authentic Japanese food at a 140-year-old restaurant while enjoying the company and performance of a male geisha. With just five taikomochi in the whole of Japan, this is a truly unique experience.
The many shops, temples and streets of Kagurazaka can be discovered in a few hours so why not join a tour to make sure you see all the best parts of the area? Not only is this the best way of seeing the best sights but also gives you the opportunity to meet a local guide so you can learn more about the history of Kagurazaka’s compelling streets. You will also get the chance to eat and drink at an izakaya, a typical Japanese drinking establishment.
Once the sun goes down, the streets of Kagurazaka light up with lanterns and laughter. Originally an entertainment district, the area holds onto its tradition with the restaurants and bars filling up with joyful imbibers. If you want to explore this different type of nightlife, join a local that will take you to some of the best establishments in the area.
With Kagurazaka’s fusion of French and Japanese culture, it goes without saying that it is home to some spectacular eating joints. Whether you know specifically what you want to get your chops around or want to be headed in the right direction, the advice of a local is sure to put you on the right track. After a good day’s sightseeing in this fascinating area, a satisfying meal will be the icing on the cake.
Both traditional, modern and multi-cultural, a walk around Kagurazaka is like riding a cultural roller coaster. As a locals’ favourite, this area is an absolute must for anyone wanting an insight into an important area in the history of Tokyo. With its ideal central location, there’s no excuse not to pop over to Kagurazaka before heading on to one of the bigger tourist attractions nearby.
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