Where geisha and France rendezvous over some of the city's finest cuisine.
Due to its location on the outer moat of Edo Castle, Kagurazaka has always enjoyed popularity as a major entertainment district and was formerly home to hundreds of geisha. Now, the neighborhood walks the fine line between old and new, retaining its history in the still operating okiya (geisha houses) while embracing the present with its growing French-inspired ambiance. It is the latter that has made Kagurazaka the unofficial French quarter of Tokyo.
First, stroll along the main shopping street to get a feel for the area. Take time to look at any shops or restaurants that catch your eye, as many are famous. Halfway up is Bishomonten Zenkakuji, a temple built by first shogunate Tokugawa Ieyasu and relocated to the area over two centuries ago. Contrast it with the modernized, historical Akagi Shrine tucked behind Kagurazaka Station at the end of main street. Then, wander back to the bottom via winding back alleyways to fully experience Kagurazaka.
Kagurazaka’s unique mix of traditional Japan and French influence colors its restaurants, too. Enjoy French food at cozy places like Cafe-Creperie Le Bretagne, which specializes in galettes (buckwheat crepes) from France’s Bretagne region and was Japan’s first creperie. Indulge in handmade Japanese sweets at Baikatei or shaved ice and the famed matcha babaroa, a Japanese take on Bavarian cream, Kinozen. Eat some Kagurazaka manju at sit-down cafe mugimaru2, which serves manju with red bean, cheese, chocolate and other combinations, and Gojuuban which offers up huge, cheap steamed buns to go. Their specialty is the nikuman and their manju are considered some of the best in Japan. Both stores are just off the main street.
A Walking Photo Tour of Kagurazaka
Kagurazaka is also a great place to eat at a ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant) that serves kaiseki ryori, a premium, seasonally-based course meal considered the height of Japanese cuisine. Those wishing to try it should make a reservation beforehand and expect to pay a premium, especially at dinner time.