Top 10 Things To Do in Ningyocho (Tokyo, Japan)
If you’re visiting Japan for the first time and want to experience a part of the “real” Tokyo, then you should seriously consider basing yourself in Ningyocho, a neighborhood in the Nihonbashi district.
The area is well-known for its entertainment culture that dates back to the Edo era. Today you’ll find small stylish shops, quaint streets and well-establish food shops and restaurants. Ningyocho is a great area to visit in Tokyo if you’re not too keen on crowds and want to be immersed in every day Japanese life.
Tops Things To Do In Ningyocho
#1 – Stroll down Ningyocho-dori & Alleyways
Start at the corner of Ningyocho-dori and Ningyocho Metro Station. Head south and take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area. During the mornings, you’ll find a mix of business men & women who are quickly making their way to the office along with residents of the area who are purchasing a variety of food specialities to take home. Make sure to venture into the smaller alleys that surround the main street as well. You’ll be sure to discover a great photo opportunity or your next lunch spot.
#2 – Observe the Clock Towers
While strolling down Ningyocho-dori, make sure to look out for two huge clock towers that stand opposite each other. A mechanical puppet show appears on the hour from 11am – 7pm every day. This represents the birthplace of Edo Kabuki Theater which was a form of affordable entertainment for the common people during the Edo era.
#3 – Eat Soba for Lunch
Head on over to a local Soba restaurant to get a taste of freshly pulled noodles. Our suggestion would be to try the cold soba noodles. Step one: dip the cold noodles into the sauce provided. Step two: eat & enjoy. For extra tasty noodles, feel free to put some wasabi & green onions into the dipping sauce. *Hint – Don’t forget to ask for some of the hot soba water to slurp with your remaining sauce before finishing your meal. We picked up a plate at Komoro Soba Ningyocho for less than 400 yen ($3.75).
#4 – Visit the Suitengu Shrine
When strolling down Ningycho-dori, you’ll soon see the large intricate roof of the shrine contrast with the shrines modern enclosure. The contrast itself is a symbol of Japan’s rich historical and cultural heritage combined with one of the most modern cities in the world. The shrine is very busy on the weekends as many Japanese come to visit for protection of safe pregnancy and child delivery. Come on the weekdays to ensure a calmer visit.
#5 – Enjoy the Cherry Blossom Lined Streets
We were lucky enough to come to Tokyo while the Cherry Blossoms were still in bloom. If you are also visiting Tokyo during the Sakura season, Ningycho-dori is a great place to see the blossoms outside of the many parks in Tokyo.
#6 – Try the “Golden Potato”
A walked into Kotobukido after observing people go in and out of a shop behind a mysterious curtain. I asked the lady what the shop was known for and she responded “Our Golden Potato”. Hence began my first taste of the “Golden Potato”. Funny enough, the cake isn’t made from potato at all. It’s simply called Golden Potato because it perfectly resembles a sweet potato. The recipe dates back to 1884. Outside you’ll find a coating of aromatic cinnamon and on the inside is a sweet white bean paste. I suggest you try it for yourself! 200 yen ($1.88).
#7 – Pick up something for a friend (shopping)
You’ll find many small shops featuring specialties and souvenirs from all areas of Japan. This is a great area to pick up something for someone back at home. If you’re limited on space, simply have fun exploring new foods and crafts in the area. The alley of Amazake Yokocho is a great place to start.
#8 – Grab some Ningyo-yaki before they run out!
You’ll find a few shops in the area serving up Ningyo-yaki. I stumbled upon Shigemori Eishindo after seeing a line of Japanese customers patiently waiting to pick up the delectable ningyo-yaki fish shaped-cakes baked thin layer of cake and filled with koshi-an red bean paste.
#9 – Slurp on some cheap Udon
Again, who says Tokyo has to be expensive? When it comes to food, there really is something for all budgets. If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat in the evening after spending the whole day out, why not grab a good bowl of hot udon soup. If you’re dinning solo, no problem. You’ll see many solo dinners in Tokyo restaurants grabbing a quick and tasty dinner before heading back home.
#10 – Explore Hidden Alleys at Night
Tokyo is probably one of the only cities I would recommend to explore dark hidden alleyways at night. Okay, I’m not sure about the entire city but it’s perfectly acceptable to do in Ningyocho. Ningyocho’s alleys are full of restaurants and bars filled with office-workers simply enjoying a night out with colleges over dinner and drinks. Bonus – this makes for some great night shots if you’re into photography.
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