Next up is Kyoouji.
A little further along and you get to some steps, at the bottom of which is an amazing traditional bamboo shop - the initial incentive for my visit. I made a rather purse shattering purchase which I shall come to later. Most people were making instead for the busy, traditional shopping street which is at the bottom of the steps. It looks traditional at first glace but a lot of the shops are for tourists - and japanese tourists at that since many menus and signs were only in japanese.
As well as the shopping and religion, there is an *amazing* house called the Asakura Museum of Sculpture.
there are some on the website here which is in English.
For the train spotting element we need to go back to the exit of Nippori station. The West exit comes out on a bridge which happens to span across about 8 sets of train tracks including the ones used by the latest bullet trains. When I first arrived there were some grown men with cameras but on my way back to the station it was a few very excited little boys.
Once I arrived back home I very excitedly got ready to striptease my purchase of its beautiful packaging.
...and got quite excited by the whole thing despite living in central london where grass is the only natural material you get. I then found out I would likely be off soon and gave it to my cousin who actually lives in the country. Since arriving in Tokyo I've frequently got excited by the basket weaving scene over here where there are several Living National Treasures (a lovely idea I think) who are Masters of the art. Googling led me to this shop in Yanaka and hence my visit. I hadn't actually meant to buy anything though. Or at least, nothing like this.
I love it so much! I bought the flower especially.
My only move towards actually giving basket weaving a go is Pinterest and some 100 Yen shop weaving strips. What I would love is to be able to make one of the handbags I saw in the shop today for...£300. I know some people (only two really) who would think £300 was cheap for a designer one-of-a-kind handbag but I am not someone who spends so much on them. The craftsmanship is amazing though. I stayed in the shop for ages carefully not drooling on the vases, baskets, creations and whatnots before coming back a second time to make my purchase, much to the delight of the lovely man there.
Overall I would definitely recommend a half day in Yanaka for anyone visiting Tokyo. Plus it leads you straight into Ueno Park if you continue on instead of turning back as I did - and the Park is very beautiful with Tokyo National Museum (which I blogged about a few days ago) on another edge of it. I suspect the only people who wouldn't find something to interest them in Yanaka would be angsty teenagers, but then surely no one would waste Tokyo on a teenager. And if they did they should simply point them in the direction of Harajuku and arrange to meet them later.