Not only the skyscrapers, Tokyo has preserved much of its traditional culture, as can be seen in the Shitamachi area. Shitamachi literally means “city centre” and has been the place to experience a taste of the old town Tokyo atmosphere since Edo Period, long before the economic miracle of the seventies and eighties overtook Japan.
The most famous district of Shitamachi is Asakusa. Visitors can find Senso-ji Temple, best known for the giant red lantern situated at its entrance. This is a great place to start any exploration of Tokyo, by learning about the relationship between Buddhism and Shintoism, and getting to know some of the rituals associated with visiting a temple.
Ameyoko, known as a discount shopping street, located under the railway line from JR Ueno Station to Okachimachi Station, is famous throughout Japan for its wide varieties of products. Today, various products such as clothes, bags, cosmetics, fresh fish, dried foods and spices are sold along Ameyoko.
Kappabashi is a shopping street between Ueno and Asakusa which is almost entirely populated with shops supplying the restaurant trade. You will find specialized stores for knives, pots, dishes, pans, cooking utensils, stoves, and more. There are also a few stores which sell food samples made in plastic and wax, which we can see in the restaurant’s show windows.
Yanaka Ginza is the centre of commerce of Yanaka district, and is famed for its atmosphere which brings you back to the Edo Period. Located in eastern Tokyo, there is also a narrow shopping street called Sunamachi Ginza Shopping Street, a home to a bright, rhythmical energy and a lively atmosphere.
Tsukishima is located close to Tsukiji fish market. Here you can try one of Tokyo’s local dish called ‘Monjayaki’ – a runny, savoury pancake. Also known as Monja street, Tsukishima is lined with specialized eateries, competing for the hearts and minds of sticky soul food lovers to feel the Shitamachi vibes.