Kagurazaka, Tokyo's Original Geisha District

Kagurazaka at night | © mrhayata/Flickr
Kagurazaka at night | © mrhayata/Flickr
Photo of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer11 April 2017

Built on what was once the approach to Edo Castle, Kagurazaka was historically a bustling geisha district and a center of commerce. Today, the historic district has quieted down somewhat, but it still gives visitors a glimpse of Old Edo.

Kagurazaka’s main shopping street is lined with family-owned shops selling wagashi (Japanese sweets) and snacks, handicrafts and kimono, many of them with long histories and ties to the area. The district is also renowned for its many traditional high-end restaurants tucked away in the back alleys, where geisha still entertain clients over kaiseki dinners in the evening.

The main shopping street at Kagurazaka | © Guilhem Vellut/Flickr
Goods for sale along Waseda Dori, Kagurazaka | © Guilhem Vellut/Flickr

The district has been becoming increasingly popular in recent years, and its population boom is in part due to an influx of expats. It has a reputation for its French cultural influence, including cuisine, and is one of the few places in Tokyo where European charm and traditional Japanese culture can seamlessly mingle.

Another side of Kagurazaka is its European influence | © Daderot/WikiCommons

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The winding back alleys of Kagurazaka, with their cobbled streets, antique architecture and discreet ryōtei (high-end restaurants, the kind where geisha ply their trade) are one of the district’s most appealing features. Getting lost in the narrow lanes, it’s easy to forget you’re actually just on the edge of Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku Ward.

A hotel in Kagurazaka | © Kabacchi/WikiCommons
Cobbled backstreets of Kagurazaka | © Kabacchi/Flickr
Kagurazaka alleyways | © Kabacchi/Flickr
Kagurazaka's unique architecture | © mrhayata/Flickr

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