My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: February 13, 2023
This neighborhood from the Edo period (1603-1868) has undergone a modern creative renaissance in recent years. Still managing to preserve the traditional charms of its past, Kiyosumi Shirakawa is home to Japan’s premiere modern art gallery, and a disproportionately high number of trendy coffee shops now occupy the surrounding streets.
For classical Japanese aesthetics, walk through the pristine Kiyosumi Gardens, one of the best traditional gardens in the city. Then, head to nearby Kiba Park, which is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Afterwards, take a break with a cup of coffee at one of the many nearby cafes.
The closest access point is Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station, accessible via the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line and the Toei Oedo Line.
From Haneda Airport: 50 minutes by train.
From Narita Airport: 90 minutes by train.
From Shinjuku Station: Take the Toei Oedo Line for approximately 40 minutes to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station.
From Tokyo Station: Take the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line to Otemachi Station. From there, change to the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line and get off at Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station. The entire trip takes approximately 30 minutes.
Recent years have seen a coffee boom in Kiyosumi Shirakawa, with independent roasters lining the streets of this traditionally working-class neighborhood.
The hip Arise Coffee Roasters is just a 5-minute walk from Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station. American coffee company Blue Bottle has even opened a location here, occupying a large two-story storehouse with large windows and an open-floor plan. Numerous other cafes in the area cater to every style, from ultra-modern espresso bars to laidback classic coffee shops with a more rustic feel.
Select your preference and enjoy a refreshing cup after walking through the nearby Kiyosumi Gardens. This traditional Japanese landscape garden covers an area of about 37,000 square meters, with three big islands and a teahouse on the pond. Cross the pond using the iso-watari stepping stones, and see the carp, turtles, and waterfowls that live here. Take a moment to appreciate the flowers and trees in the different seasons.
Despite Kiyosumi’s Edo period charm, the area is also full of modern art galleries. The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo boasts one of the largest collections in the country, including works by Roy Lichtenstein and Yoko Ono. Enjoy five floors of contemporary art, including collection and special exhibitions. There is also an art library, museum shop, restaurant, café and lounge.
For a more intimate look at up-and-coming artists, go to the nearby Ando Gallery. This tiny, one-room gallery is free to visit, and is conveniently located next to an espresso shop, so you can enjoy a cup of coffee while viewing the art.
Learn more about local history at the Fukagawa Edo Museum, a 3-minute walk from Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station. This life-sized replica of a Tokyo shitamachi neighborhood from around 1840, includes houses, shops, a boathouse and a fire tower. The 11 buildings were constructed using traditional techniques, and the lighting varies depending on the time of day.
If you have time, take a short walk to explore the neighboring Fukagawa Area.