Finding old Tokyo in Nippori

Ueno Park is a significant draw card for visitors, for its museums, galleries, zoo, temples and quiet contemplation. Just to the north of the Ueno Park precinct is Nippori, an old part of Tokyo that has history, culture and a beautiful park that doubles as a cemetery. Or should that be the other way round? Nippori is definitely worth exploring on foot.

Nippori is easily accessible on the JR Yamanote Line, as well as various subway lines. Much like most of Tokyo really! An alternate means of accessing Nippori is via the fantastic local Taito city bus “Megurin” which has 3 looping routes through Asakusa, Kuramae, Ueno and Nippori. At 100 yen at trip, these regular buses are very popular with visitors and locals alike. And by taking this indirect route, you travel along streets and through neighbourhoods that you would otherwise not see.

I got off at the Yanaka Cemetery bus stop, and entered this place with its broad treed avenue as much a destination for a leisurely stroll than for its cultural and historic significance.

So many people sitting, walking or jogging in this popular place that is easily mistaken for a large park, not a cemetery. Many significant men and women are buried here, including  Nakamura Masanao, educator and enlightenment scholar who worked to educate women and the handicapped.

A great benefit of wandering about in Tokyo is that you will never end far from a subway station. So moving on with no particular destination or route in mind is exciting, and can bring some surprises.

Jyomyoin Temple, constructed in 1666, enshrines about 25,000 Jizo statues. An amazing sight. As odd as it might seem in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, but this special place was devoid of visitors on this Saturday morning.

I did make a beeline for the famous Yanaka shopping street. To be honest I was glad that I got there early enough that only a few shops were open. By and large it looked like just another place selling trinkets for tourists.

And further down was the famous ‘snake street’. An underwhelming few ‘s’ bends really, probably found Tokyo and the world over.

The photos below were taken on a bright autumn Saturday morning. No pushing the crowds back out of the shots. There was literally no one around!

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