The Secret Alleys of Central Tokyo and Where the Locals Eat

During one of my evenings in Tokyo, I just decided to wander off and find myself some nice, traditional style street photography locations.The problem was that I was walking around Marunouchi (pretty much Central Tokyo) where most of the high rises and offices were located. The area was completely dead on weekends for people watching or street photography.

After walking dejectedly around to who knows where, I found myself a Starbucks, in desperate need of some direction to my wandering. Annoyingly my web search resulted in all the usual suggestions: Shibuya Junction, Odaiba, Asakusa, and Ginza. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love each and every one of these locations, but I was looking for some more unique street photography opportunities. And since mid-May is not exactly Cherry Blossom season, not all of even these locations would work for me. It was also getting late and I wanted something close by so that I could go back to the hotel to get some more sleep. After a good amount of searching, I stumbled upon Tokyobling’s blog post about some interesting shops, right underneath the JR flyovers of central Tokyo.

I had noticed this particular area before on a taxi ride through the city, but always figured that places underneath the flyovers were for courageous (or ignorant) wanderers and homeless people. Shame on me for thinking that way because after all this was Tokyo, probably the safest major city on Earth. And what I ended up finding was truly a hidden gem of Tokyo:

The area of note is in between the Yurakucho and Shimbashi train stations and included many ramen noodle shops, small scale restaurants, quirky shops, and dessert bars. Despite it being past 11pm, the place was absolutely packed with locals just coming by to enjoy a meal:

Walking these streets, it was as if I had found a whole new side to Central Tokyo. One which doesn’t involve just people dressed in suits hurrying along to work. Best of all, if you like ramen noodles, I saw no less than fifty shops or restaurants serving the delicacy. I’m sure you won’t leave disappointed.

Reminder to those of you who aren’t vegetarian: always walk on an empty stomach in Tokyo because you will always stumble upon something worth trying.

My favorite from the Yurakucho alleyway or area had to be the space around this vibrant shop full of many lighted signs and art pieces:

Anyway don’t miss out on this hidden treasure in Tokyo while on a photography walk or on a dinner scouting mission. Here is a Google Map with the location just in case. 

There is nothing more satisfying than finding an area of a city, completely separated from the crowds. These treasures end up being in some of the most unexpected places, so don’t walk into any city (especially Tokyo) with any kind of preconceived notions. 


Have you been to Tokyo? What are some other lesser known areas?

Japan Trip Report Index:

United Business Class DFW – IAH 

United Clubs @ DFW & IAH

United Polaris Houston – Tokyo (Narita)

Narita Express (Narita – Tokyo Station)

Focal Point: Tokyo Station

Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo

Focal Point: Tokyo in the Rain

Focal Point: The Secret Alleys of Tokyo