My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: February 13, 2023
With a number of universities within walking distance, the Kanda and Jimbocho area has a laid-back, student-town atmosphere that's perfect for leisurely exploration. Students flock to the Mausoleum of Confucius at Yushima to pray for good exam results, and readers trawl Jimbocho for new and secondhand books. If you're hungry, try the delicious and inexpensive local curry or soba. Close to Tokyo Station, Ueno, Ochanomizu and Akihabara, it's a convenient base for exploring the wider city.
Access the area from Kanda Station on the JR Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku, and Chuo Lines, and the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
From Haneda Airport: 35 minutes by train.
From Narita Airport: 90 minutes by train.
From Shinjuku Station: Take the JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station. Travel time: 20 minutes.
From Tokyo Station: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station. Travel time: five minutes.
Kanda and its surrounds are at the center of Tokyo's spiritual life. Every New Year, Tokyo businesspeople crowd Kanda Shrine to pray for a successful year, while students head to the Mausoleum of Confucius at Yushima to plead for good exam results and buy special pencils for studying.
Yasukuni Shrine, famous for its cherry blossoms, is also popular for its flea market, which takes place intermittently. On summer nights, the Mitama Festival is held to honor the spirits of the dead by the light of lanterns. Heading towards Ochanomizu, you will find Nikolai-do (Holy Resurrection Cathedral), an Eastern Orthodox church with an eye-catching green dome. Built in 1891, it is named after St. Nicholas of Japan (born Ivan Dimitrovich Kasatkin), who introduced the Eastern Orthodox Church to Japan, and is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
Around Kanda and Jimbocho, you'll find some niche shopping and eating spaces. Close to Kanda Station, you'll find some of the city's most celebrated soba restaurants, tucked in among shops selling retro sweets and old houses. Given the large student population, the curry here is cheap and delicious. Try some at one of the hundreds of curry joints in the area. There's even a curry festival.
Book-lovers should head straight to Jimbocho for unhurried sessions of browsing new, secondhand and rare books. There are plenty of cafes around to enjoy your new tome with a coffee. Ochanomizu is also known for musical instruments—you can find almost anything here—and there are some good small live venues and jazz clubs in the area. There are also a number of sporting goods stores scattered throughout the area. From climbing to skiing and snowboarding, you'll find a large range at very competitive prices. For example, the streets leading to Yasukuni Jinja sell winter sports gear. Drop in for a bargain before you hit the slopes.