• Take your foot off the gas to discover a life less neon-lit and fast-paced
  • Rent a bike from an uber-cool cycle shop based out of an old sake brewery
  • Check out a range of indie goods, from handcrafted shoes to linen shirts

Suffering from an overdose of flashing neon billboards? Head to eastern Yanaka, a rare time-capsule neighborhood which somehow escaped the wartime bombings, earthquake damage, and fires that have transformed the rest of the city. Today, it’s famed for its slower pace of life and pretty low-rise streets, plus its emerging community of young creatives. First stop? An 80-year-old former sake brewery with a curved wooden roof that is the flagship home of Tokyobike Gallery Yanaka. Take any of their minimal rainbow-colored bikes for a test drive. Just down the road is Sonomitsu, where bespoke shoes with a vintage feel are painstakingly handcrafted by Hajime Sonoda. Cycle past old tofu sellers and sake shops on the main old-school shopping street, picking up a delicious takeaway menchi-katsu deep-fried meat cutlet from famed butchers Niku no Suzuki. Around the corner is Hagiso, a black cube of a building housing a wooden café and art gallery (their mackerel sandwich is a must). A short cycle away is Classico, one of Yanaka’s original lifestyle stores, which feels more like straying inside someone’s home than going shopping (pick up one of their white linen shirts). Not far away is Scai the Bathhouse—one of the city’s best independent art galleries, located in a small former public bathhouse (wooden lockers are still intact in the entrance) and exhibiting artists ranging from Kohei Nawa to Anish Kapoor. On the same block, join fellow coffee obsessives in the line outside the atmospheric Kayaba Coffee, a 100-year-old coffee shop with a cool Midcentury Modern interior.

The tiny Yanaka area is served by Nippori Station which puts you near Tennoji Temple. Head past the Yanaka cemetery and down the side streets of Kototoi Dori to discover a host of independent retailers. Tokyobike is opposite the Kanchiin Buddhist Temple.​

​​TOKYOBIKE GALLERY YANAKA: 4-2-39 Yanaka, Taito-ku; +81-(0)3-5809-0980; tokyobike.com

​​SONOMITSU: 2-18-6 Yanaka, Taito-ku; +81-(0)3-6904-1312; sonomitsu.com; sonomitsu-diary.blogspot.jp

​​NIKU NO SUZUKI: 3-15-5 Nishi Nippori, Taito-ku; +81-(0)3-3821-4526; yanakaginza.com/shop/suzuki/

​​HAGISO: 3-10-25 Yanaka, Taito-ku; +81-(0)3-5832-9808; hagiso.jp

​​CLASSICO: 2-5-22 Yanaka, Taito-ku; +81-(0)3-3823-7622; classico-life.com

​​SCAI THE BATHHOUSE: 6-1-23 Yanaka, Taito-ku; +81-(0)3-3821-1144;scaithebathhouse.com/en

​​KAYABA COFFEE: 6-1-29 Yanaka, Taito-ku; +81-(0)3-3823-3545; kayaba-coffee.com​​