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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogKagurazaka and More: Five Best Retro Tokyo Neighborhoods!

Kagurazaka and More: Five Best Retro Tokyo Neighborhoods!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
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June 06, 2024
The Awaodori Festival in Kagurazaka, Tokyo.

Beyond modern Tokyo’s hustling and bustling atmosphere, there are still traces of vintage scenes and exclusive cultural intersections. From retro alleys to thrift stores and quality Asian-European fusion eateries, all promise to bring a nostalgic feeling to locals and visitors alike. Follow us to Kagurazaka and four more fantastic retro neighborhoods in Tokyo!


Kagurazaka is a lovely neighborhood located near Iidabashi Station. Once on the edge of Edo Castle, it’s now a trendy area blending traditional Japanese and modern French styles. The main street of Kagurazaka is bustling with French bakeries, cozy cafes, and gourmet restaurants, making it a delightful place to explore. The district also features traditional shops selling kimono fabrics, handmade ceramics, and Japanese sweets, offering a perfect blend of old and new.

Kagurazaka, a retro neighborhood in Tokyo.
Kagurazaka has a lot of French-themed restaurants. Image via Shutterstock

Historically, Kagurazaka was an entertainment district during the Edo Period (1603-1868), famous for its geisha houses and fancy restaurants. While many historic elements remain, including the stone-paved alleys, Kagurazaka has embraced a contemporary vibe. Today, it’s affectionately called “Little Paris” due to its significant French presence.

One of the highlights of Kagurazaka is the Akagi Shrine, an Edo-period shrine beautifully renovated by renowned architect Kengo Kuma. In addition, Kagurazaka’s streets become especially vibrant during festivals, such as the Kagurazaka Awa Odori Festival in July. This lively event fills the streets with numerous performers, attracting crowds to enjoy traditional Japanese music and dance.


Jimbocho is a book lover’s paradise in Tokyo. Indeed, the district boasts around 200 bookstores, many specializing in second-hand books. The roots of Jimbocho as a literary haven date back to the 1880s, when law schools in the area led to the opening of bookstores for students. This tradition grew into a lively neighborhood where bibliophiles can find everything from classic literature to rare antique books.

The district also accommodates many publishing company headquarters, including the popular Shueisha, known for its Shonen Jump manga magazines. Plus, retro cafes like Ladrio, which started in 1949, provide a comfy spot for readers to sip Viennese coffee and dive into their latest finds. 

A retro bookstore in Jimbocho.
Jimbocho is the capital of secondhand bookstores! Image via Shutterstock

Jimbocho is a cultural hub with various attractions. The area features traditional and modern shops, selling everything from stationery to calligraphy supplies. For those interested in Japanese art, stores like Ohya Shobo offer Edo-period woodblock prints and illustrated books.

This town will have an excellent blend of old buildings and new skyscrapers. More extraordinary, the murals at Jimbocho Station even look like bookshelves, giving you a taste of the area’s bookish vibe. Additionally, the district also hosts festivals celebrating literature and culture

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Shibamata is a delightful neighborhood on Tokyo’s eastern edge, near the Edogawa River, which forms the border with Chiba Prefecture. This charming town is a step back in time, filled with the nostalgic vibe of old Tokyo. 

One of Shibamata’s main attractions is the picturesque Taishakuten Sando shopping street. This quaint street is lined with traditional shops and eateries that sell local treats such as dango (sweet rice dumplings) and Japanese crackers. The street takes you straight to the grand gate of the Taishakuten Temple, known for its intricate wooden carvings. Visitors can also enjoy the peaceful garden from a sheltered walkway inside the temple.

Taishakuten, a Buddhist temple in Shibamata.
Taishakuten is Shibamata’s main tourist spot. Image via Shutterstock

Not far from the temple, Yamamoto-tei shows more of Shibamata’s past. This old house of a merchant combines Japanese and Western styles and has a beautiful Japanese garden. People can enjoy tea while admiring the garden, making it a perfect relaxing spot.

For those looking to explore more, a walk along the Edogawa River offers scenic views and a chance to take a traditional boat ride. The town also hosts fireworks over the river during summer, creating a magical atmosphere.


Tsukishima, also called “Moon Island,” is a friendly neighborhood in Chūō, situated near the Sumida River. This island, made by people more than 100 years ago using dirt from Tokyo Bay, holds a rich history and lots of fun things to do for everyone. 

A restaurant in Tsukishima, a retro neighborhood similar to Kagurazaka.
There are plenty of good places to eat in Tsukishima. Image via Shutterstock

Originally, Tsukishima was a small fishing community, starting in the early 1600s when migrants from Osaka settled here. Over time, it turned into a busy industrial area. Nowadays, Tsukishima is beloved for its culinary scene, particularly its signature dish, monjayaki. Nishinaka Street of this town has plenty of restaurants serving this savory dish. 

Furthermore, remnants of traditional Tokyo can still be found in the small streets here, though many tall buildings currently decorate the skyline. Tsukuda Park, with its historic lighthouse and stunning river views, will provide a peaceful scene.


Shimo-Kitazawa, or “Shimokita”, is a fashionable neighborhood in Setagaya. It’s often described as eclectic and creative, attracting imaginative souls with its vintage clothing stores, unique cafes, and live music hubs.

Shimo-Kitazawa at night.
Shimo-Kitazawa is a premier hipster neighborhood in Tokyo. Image via Shutterstock

Since Shimokita used to be a farming area, it’s kept its chill vibe despite being close to Tokyo’s busiest location. This place is well-known for its abundance of thrift stores and retro boutiques. Flamingo and Chicago are great stores for finding cool stuff that might match your style. 

Coffee lovers will also find plenty to enjoy in Shimokitazawa. The area boasts some of Tokyo’s best coffee shops, namely Bear Pond Espresso and Moldive. Moreover, music enthusiasts won’t want to miss Shimokitazawa’s vibrant live music scene. With various venues such as Shimokitazawa THREE, Era, and Club 251 showcasing famous bands and new ones, there’s always something exciting happening in this trendy neighborhood.

Why should I visit retro neighborhoods like Kagurazaka?

You should visit these areas because they offer a unique blend of old-world charm and modern flair, and Kagurazaka is no exception. Whether you’re in the mood for exploring traditional shops filled with kimono fabrics or relaxing in nice cafes serving up artisanal coffees and pastries, this neighborhood has it all.

Also, if you’re a vintage fashion buff, drop by Shimo-Kitazawa. And there are still many more awesome retro destinations in Tokyo for you to check out! So, which town are you most excited to discover? Share your thoughts below!

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