6744 Miles to Yanaka
This past year, we travelled 6,744.56 miles from New York to Yanaka to explore our roots and celebrate Sakura. Here's an overview of our favorite spots in case you decide to follow our wheels all the way to Japan. We hope you enjoy reading about it as much as we enjoyed riding through it.
tokyobike Rentals Yanaka
There is no better way to discover a new city than by bicycle —you get to cover so much more ground, take in the different sounds and smells, and your senses become much more atuned to the environment around you. A great start to an exploration like this is with a stop at our Yanaka rental shop and grab bicycles to explore the neighborhood we call home. You can also get a delicious coffee, Japanese tea, beer or sake at the full service bar.
One of the few districts in Tokyo where the shitamachi atmosphere, an old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo from past decades, still survives. Throughout the district, there is an air of nostalgia and a rustic charm. It is within walking distance of Ueno Park, and offers a different perspetive from the metropolitan city feel of other parts of Tokyo
There are more than 60 Buddhist temples surrounding the Yanaka Cemetery —an area of over 100 thousand square meters that hosts about 7 thousand graves. No other Temple Towns in Tokyo have the same scale as Yanaka, as this was one of the only regions to escape bombing during the Second World War.
International Library of Children's Literature
A library dedicated to the collection and exhibition of children's literature, this building was first created in 1906. It was renovated by renowned architect Tadao Ando in 2002, who created the perfect interplay between modern architecture and history. No need to say we are big fans!
Probably one of the best pour overs we have ever had, all the beans are roasted on the premises of this dedicated coffee specialist.
Syuro's atelier and shop is located at Torigoe - an area filled with classic typesetters, canning factories, cloth wholesalers, and hardware stores. Artisans and their arts, cultivated over many years, remain alive in this neighborhood. Luckily, you can get a little taste of Syuro from our online store here.
SCAI THE BATHHOUSE
Opened in 1993 with the completion of the renovation of Kashiwayu, a venerable public bath with a 200-year history. The outside of the bathhouse possesses an elegant atmosphere, with its tiled roof and towering chimney. Take one step inside and you find yourself in a very unique exhibition area. Located in Yanaka, a stones-throw from tokyobike, this gallery lays in middle of an art zone, conveniently close to Ueno where many museums and art universities can be found.
Cycling in Tokyo
The Japanese have a very strong communal culture and when it comes to bicyles in its cities, there’s a self-fulfilling cycle of tolerance that occurs: as more people ride bikes, more people become sensitive to the needs of bike riders. So it’s not uncommon to find bikes left unlocked on the streets in Tokyo, riders on the sidewalk (a regular habit in the city) and very few bike lanes.
Cafe de l'ambre
This one-of-a-kind cafe first opened its doors in 1948, moved to its current location in the ’70s, but has always called Ginza home. The owner is 100 and is still roasting beans and we were lucky enough to meet him that day.
Known for its upscale shopping, Ginza is home to some of the most beautiful modern buildings in Tokyo. Our favorite - Maison Hérmes, constructed between 1998 and 2001 and designed by Renzo Piano.
Hidden in a small alley in Jimbocho, this wonderfully retro cafe plays old tango tunes on the sound system and serves up blends, such as Kilimanjaro coffee, as well as a selection of beers from around the world. This is a good place to unwind, check your photos, and share in some great conversation and local snacks.
Heaven of vintage books, photography and contemporary art, this 4-story book store in the incredible neighborhood of Jimbocho is a must. If you’re in the market for a pricey birthday gift, the ¥216,000 original copy of Daido Moriyama’s Farewell Photography will do nicely.
Another tokyobike favorite, we had the pleasure to visit Postalco's shop in Shibuya and cross paths with Mike Abelson, co-founder of the brand with his wife Yuri. No need to go all the way to Shibuya, even though we totally recommend you to, but you can grab a Postalco or two right here.
This punk-rock izakaya restaurant in Daikanyama couldn't be more fun if it tried. Even famed artist Yoshitomo Nara is a fan — head for the tables towards the back of the main floor to check the illustrations that he left.
Located in Daikanyama, one of our favorite neighborhoods, they serve the best pancakes in town —a nation-wide favorite food. Head into Tsutaya Books afterwards for a selection of magazines, music and more. Tip: If you have to work while in Tokyo, they have the most peaceful and productive cafe on the second floor - Anjin.
Looking for a delicious Yakitori (Japanese skewered chicken)? Head to Roppongi for this traditional joint and their great selection of beer, sake, and of course, incredibly flavorful chicken.
Home to one of our 3 tokyobike shops in Tokyo, Nakameguro is popular for its unique boutique cafes and stores. It becomes incredibly vibrant and active along the Meguro River during the Cherry Blossoms festival, which we were lucky to experience.
Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū) is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly thereafter. The Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city, also home of one of the biggest Sakura celebrations in Tokyo.
About this journey
We couldn't have explored Tokyo as in depth as we did without a very special group of people -
A big thank you to our tokyobike Japan family for hosting us in Yanaka and lending us bicycles to cruise around. An even bigger thank you to our founder, Ichiro Kanai, for taking his time and leading us through this amazing neighborhood. You can follow tokyobike Japan at @tokyobike_jp and tokyobike Rentals at @tokyobikerentals.
Thank you also, to our good friend Curtis Christophersen, for taking taking us to his favorite book stores, coffee shops and restaurants. You can follow more of his local explorations at @crtzmo.
Last but not least, a heartfelt thanks to the great talents of Stefaan duPont and Sarah Murphy from Miles & Miles. These two stopped halfway through an incredible international itinerary to join us in Tokyo and capture the beautiful imagery you see here.