Yanaka, Tokyo
Yanaka is one of Tokyo's hidden gems and possibly it's most charming neighborhood.
By Linda Lombardi

Tokyo has a reputation as a city that’s all about speed and newness. Everyone’s in a hurry, buildings are constantly being torn down and rebuilt, and in most of the city, nothing’s older than the last World War. But there’s a part of the old shitamachi downtown area that escaped destruction by earthquake and war in the twentieth century, where you can experience what’s left of an older version of the city. It’s called Yanesen, from the initials of the three neighborhoods Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi. It’s the place to go if you love winding alleys, small shops, and appreciate the appeal of a place that’s a bit shabby and worn around the edges.

Yanesen is off the beaten tourist path, east of Ueno Park and its zoo and museums,which is as far east as most visitors end up going. What’s even more interesting is that if you know people who live in Tokyo, chances are that they are completely unfamiliar with this part of town as well. Learn just a little and, like I did, you can impress Tokyo natives with a tour even if you’ve only spent a few weeks total in the city in your whole life.

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Incredible airplane bungalow with a wrap around porch and clinker brick. This is one of seven houses built on this block, built before WW1 for a subdivision to be called Bungalow Fairyland. The Homes were built right before the US entered the war. Business slowed during and for a few years after the war, very few homes were built. During the twenties the soldiers that had returned from Europe were more interested in a English Cottage and Storybook style homes. These bungalows that were influenced by the Japanese at the Chicago World Columbian Exposition in 1893 seemed odd and dated. See five of the remaining homes in Laurelhurst, Portland, OR.

近所 vs 近辺

Both mean “neighborhood” but have slightly different meanings.

近所 【きんじょ】This is used when talking the area in which you live, the actual area around your house/apartment

近辺 【きんぺん】This is used to talk about the general surrounding area of where you are. This “neighborhood” is more so the, “Hey I was in neighborhood so I thought I’d stop by and see you at work.” kind of meaning