Formerly a bathhouse (the building is over 200 years old), this high-ceilinged space in a charming neighbourhood near Ueno Park features contemporary Japanese artists (Tatsuo Miyajima) and international practitioners (Lee Bul, Julian Opie). Like many of the Yanaka district's art galleries, the fact that it is situated in an antiquated building gives it a minimalist aspect that is at once both traditional and extremely fashionable. Worth a visit for the building alone.
Yanaka is cool, but in an unassuming way. Visitors are often captivated by its bohemian old Tokyo atmosphere, but in recent years, a new creative energy has been breathing new life into its streets and buildings without altering its old world architectural makeup. Artisan workshops and modern art galleries co-exist with elegant temples and shrines – you’ll also find some of the best food here. Even though it’s right next to the ferentic tourist hub of Ueno, Yanaka remains very tranquil and is comfortable with its introspective nature, reserving its charms only to those in the know.
In commemoration of Time Out's 50th anniversary, Yanaka has been chosen as one of the 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the World with a top ten spot at No 8, ahead of other trendy areas in Los Angeles, Melbourne, London, New York and more. Here's a guide to help you explore the best things to do, restaurants and bars in this neighbourhood (as well as a few highlights from the adjoining Nezu and Sendagi areas).