Sunday, April 15, 2018

Old Yanaka and Its Cemetery

Yanaka is a district in Tokyo that survived WWII unscathed and retains a great deal of 20th century charm of an older Tokyo.  It is a living neighbourhood with a few central streets full of small shops, no skyscrapers, and plenty of residential housing.  It is also famous for its many street cats in the area, including the cemetery.  Many tourists come here for the more laid back and small town type atmosphere.  I highly recommend you visit the tourist information shop there as I skipped it and actually didn't get as much out of my cemetery visit (couldn't find any cats as I think I was wandering too far over to one side - off the tourist track). 

You get off the train at Nippori Station on the Yamanote Line and look for the exits that take you to Yanaka.  Follow the road straight out of the train station and across the tracks.  If you're on the right route, you will pass Daikokuten Kyooji Temple on the way to Yanaka Ginza.
Daikokuten Front Gate.
Front Gate Sign
Temple Grounds.
Right after the temple I stopped in at a 7-11 to get a quick bite and a drink.  I was hungry after wandering around Korakuen Gardens earlier in the morning.
A seat on a bench outside of 7-11 provide me with a place to have some fried chicken, a riceball, and a canned coffee.
TOP: Main steps leading down to Yanaka Ginza.  BOTTOM: Gateway to Yanaka Ginza.
After a break I headed to Yanaka Ginza to take a look around.  It is truly a nice little street full of shops, many of which serve the locals like vegetable shops, butchers, and such.  There is lots of charm on the streets if you really want to visit shops and browse around.
Shop.
Lots of people on Yanaka Ginza.
I also wandered a bit on the side streets to see what kind of interesting photos could be taken.
Bikes.
Behind a cafe.
Poster of a Yanaka Ginza mascot and girl?
Really tasty looking bento.  I should have waited to grab something here to eat, but you still need to find a place to sit or stand nearby eating.
Lots of cat statues, but I never did see any real cats.
Florist shop.
Another cat statue.
I finally wandered into the graveyard area, but went down a street that was back up the stairs to the NE of Yanaka Ginza.  I went down a road that goes by Kanonji Temple then took a NW road into Yanaka Cemetery.  This road takes you to Sakura Dori (Cherry Blossom Street) which bisects the cemetery roughly down the middle in a north south direction.

The north end of Sakura Dori has the entrance to Tennoji Temple.  If you look carefully on a map, you can see there is also a footpath starting right after you cross the train tracks that skirts the NE side of the cemetary along the tracks that comes in behind Tennoji Temple.  Start any exploration of the cemetery from Tennoji Temple.  From the Tennoji Temple entrance you can go north along the Northern Lane (supposed to be good for cherry blossoms in the spring) or south down Sakura Dori towards Ueno.  There are a fair number of pedestrians on this road.

Basically, I did see many graves (no surprise), a few people, but it was mostly deserted in the areas I was in.  I wandered around the SW corner of the grave yard after passing by the police konban and totally missed seeing the foundation of the 5 story pagoda - no building there now).  Kind a creepy in one section too with lots of crows watching me. One crow is not creepy, but half a dozen or more are.  No cats to be seen though for me.
Graves with the Skytree in the distance.
Graves.
Monuments.
One of the scary crows.  They pretty much left me alone and I left them alone.
Deserted streets.  There was an area where there was a playground inside the cemetery with a washroom and a small police station  I thought that was a little odd.
I then exited the graveyard by connecting back onto Sakura Dori on the way to Ueno Park and Ueno Station. It was an interesting little walk through some neighbourhoods and I hadn't been through a Japanese cemetery before either. 
Old sake store in Ueno.
Yoshida Store Sign.
Linesman - doing some kind of repair work on the rats nest of cables that is over Tokyo Streets.  Pretty amazing way of wiring really.
Statue in Ueno Park
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