Kagurazaka is a neighborhood of Tokyo that offers modern shopping and but also a traditional style. It has an older feel than much of Tokyo, with cobblestone streets and original Edo-era (1603–1868) and Meiji-era (1868–1912) buildings still standing. It’s a trendy area, and a good place to shop or just sit quietly and people-watch.
Kagurazaka was once a center of geisha culture in Tokyo. Some geisha houses still exist, and the area in general retains a lot of historic charm. Kagurazaka is known as Tokyo’s French Quarter; there’s a higher than average number of French people living and working here because it’s close to two French schools. Where the French go, stylish French cafes follow, and so it’s easy to find a good croissant and cheese to nibble on between browsing the fashionable boutiques.
Visitors tend to come to Kagurazaka on guided or self-guided walking tours. Guided walks included the district on Edo-era tours because of its history. Fun craft classes can also be done at Kagurazaka.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Don’t miss the Akagi Jinja, a modern shrine made of wood and glass.
- The best way to visit Kagurazaka is on foot, on a simple self-guided walking tour from Iidabashi Station to Kagurazaka-Shita and Kagurazaka-Ue.
- In addition to its French flavors, Kagurazaka is highly regarded as a centre of Japanese Kanto cuisine. Foodies should seek out a traditional ryotei restaurant serving high-class (and high-price) kaiseki cuisine.
How to Get There
Like most places in central Tokyo, it’s best to reach Kagurazaka via train or subway, either using the JR Chuo line to Iidabashi Station, the Oedo Subway Line to Ushigome-Kagurazaka Station, or the Tozai Subway Line to Kagurazaka Station. Driving or taking a taxi isn’t recommended, as cars are prohibited on main roads during busy times.
When to Get There
The main street of Kagurazaka is pedestrianized on weekends and on holidays, making it more pleasant to walk around at these times. Kagurazaka hosts the annual Kagurazaka Awa Odori Festival in late July, famous for traditional dance and music, so this is an especially good time to visit as well.
Visit the Imperial Palace
Kagurazaka is very near Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, where the Emperor of Japan and his family still live. It’s worth combining a trip to these two sights in a single day. Although visitors can only enter the inner grounds of the palace on select days of the year, you can walk around the outer grounds anytime. The huge scale of the walls and the moat is impressive.