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An Evening Walk: Yanaka Ginza

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[PHOTOESSAY] An Evening Walk: Yanaka Ginza

Text by Marc Nair
Photos by Marc Nair and Daniel Tan
9 Jan 2019


If you have a couple of hours to spare in Tokyo, and want to get away from the press of the Harajuku crowd, consider a picturesque walk in the Yanaka district of Tokyo. It’s one of the few places where the shitamachi (old town) ambience survives in the shops, the streets and the general atmosphere of its residents. 

We suggest starting your trek from Ueno Park, which offers a lake with swan boats and a rather picturesque temple. 

One of the first things we stumbled across while walking towards the main drag was a weekend market, whose produce attested to the diversity of craft still being produced in the area: textiles, ink prints, leatherwear, pottery, jewelry, and more.   

Further in, the atmosphere is like walking around a quieter, more drawn-out version of Notting Hill. What appears at first glance to be a residence resolves into an art gallery, a jewellery shop, and so on. 

Every side-street is a street photographer’s dream and its easy to wander off down tiny alleys, looking for the light.   

The main Yanaka Ginza strip is, predictably, much busier, but it's also a lot more local than other areas in Tokyo. We stopped for a cup of hot sake, watched young men spinning tops and camped out for the perfect sunset shot. 

It was growing dark, but if we had time, we would have checked out Yanaka Cemetery, almost next to Nippori Station, with its elaborate tombs, well-kept paths and the grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last shogun of the Edo Period. 

The sense of community is palpable here in Yanaka Ginza, and while its busier on weekends, come in the afternoon/evening any day of the week to take in a slice of local life wrapped in a generous serving of history.

Shot on the Fuji X-Pro 2 and Fuji X-T2 with the following lenses: 16mm f1.4, 23m f2, 35mm f1.4, 56mm f1.2