Kagurazaka is the kind of district to which the words charming, quaint and picturesque can legitimately be attached. Winding back-alleys, cobblestone hills and preserved geisha houses are best explored with a giant, greasy niku-man from the famous 50ban store at the top of the hill.
The best way to get to Kagurazaka is not actually from Kagurazaka station but at Iidabashi Station instead. Come out at exit B3, with the main road and river behind you so that you’re facing up the hill. You can pretty much wander directionless from there (but always up so you don’t miss the niku-man shop).
Kagurazaka-dori is lined with traditional stores selling mysterious and beautiful Japanese things that look too delicate to bring back to my apartment. As well as an amazing variety of restaurants from cheap izakaya to upscale and exclusive Japanese ryotei.
The main road through Kagurazaka is closed to cars everyday from 12:00 to 13:00 and from 12:00 to 19:00 on Sundays and holidays so you can explore at your own pace.
Stop by this place and for 380 yen you can get an enormous, piping-hot niku-man (a Chinese steamed pork bun). The store is famous throughout Japan for having some of the best manju in the country.
Giant bun of meat in hand you can continue heading up the hill or wander down any delightful side street that takes your fancy.
Kagurazaka was a popular entertainment district during the Edo-period and some of the geisha houses are still open to exclusive clientele today. The whole place has a secretive Memoirs of a Geisha feel to it and you get a sense of the quiet perseverance of local Japanese tradition that continues to exist in modern Tokyo.
At the top of the hill you can stop for that latest cocktail to take Tokyo by storm: Antique watch tea & wine…
Close to Kagurazaka station is a branch of the famous New Zealand coffee house MOJO. The English-speaking staff dispense a variety of espresso drinks, including New Zealand flat whites, which are like cups of holy water for coffee worshippers and made me want to wee with excitement.
Iidabashi station is served by the Chuo-sobu line above ground and the Tozai, Yurakucho, Namboku and Oedo subway lines. Alternatively you can head to the smaller Kagurazaka station which is on the Tozai line.