Kanda

In the Edokko neighborhood of Kanda, you can also take a historical stroll as well as do some specialty shopping.

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Kanda is the town for Edokko who live that stylish life while treasuring both the old and new. The Kanda Festival celebrates the area.
Address
Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

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Kanda, the town for Edokko

Kanda has often been called the neighborhood for the genuine Edokko. The term “Edokko” refers to that urbane person born and raised in Tokyo (the former Edo) who has that plain-spoken and generous personality, but with the residents of Kanda who have plenty of that town culture of Edo, that temperament has continued to be passed down. Although treasuring the value of the old, they also have a fondness for the new. Indeed, this has energetically bubbled over into the identity of the “Edo-Tokyo” person. There are areas in Kanda which possess various types of scenery such as historical buildings, new office towers and a university, a bookstore street, a musical instrument street and a sporting goods area where the images of the neighborhood change greatly. However, it is only with Kanda that their co-existence isn’t anything out of the ordinary. The Kanda Festival held every May is an important one for the Edokko residents in Kanda. It is one of the Three Great Festivals of Edo that has continued on since the Edo Era and is even considered to be one of the Three Great Festivals of Japan, something that residents are proud of. The town truly comes alive then.

Every area with their own dominant character

Even mentioning the word “Kanda” leads to a wide range of meaning. Close to Akihabara, there is an area where you can enjoy a walk through historic sites such as Kanda Myojin Shrine and Yushima Seido Temple, an area of cuisine from the good old days where soba shops and hot pot restaurants are located in old pre-war buildings around Awajicho, and a famous academic area of universities and musical instrument shops which also includes the beautiful Holy Resurrection Cathedral (an Important Cultural Property), a historic structure of Russian-style design that is located in the Ochanomizu neighborhood. In addition, there is an area around Jimbocho that is Japan’s leading district for old books and technical books which also has buildings with shops specializing in sporting goods. In this way, Kanda brings together the old and the new, and is famous as a shopping area responding to the needs of people with particular interests as well as a place to enjoy for tourism.

This is the place to search for those old Japanese books

Bookstores Street is an area along Yasukuni Avenue in Jimbocho which has many book shops lined up. The bookstores that are not only along the main street but also on the side streets are mainly places specializing in old books, many of which also deal in antique tomes from the Edo Era. There are also old specialty stores which bring together ukiyo-e, woodblock prints, ancient maps as well as books on medicine, martial arts and science. It’s good to consult with the shop owners about the books that you are looking for, but it’s also fun to go treasure hunting for that desired book from that pile of old tomes. In the fall, there is the Kanda Old Book Festival in which 100 shops line up over a million old books. Attracting numerous book lovers from all over the nation, they immerse themselves into the search for books for the entire day. Nearby there are some modestly well-hidden cafes which are fun to find and enter. While enjoying coffee in those tiny places, opening up that just-bought book and resting those tired legs is a recommended “Kanda-esque” way to spend the time.

Old bookstores that have an English homepage:

Edo Era bookstore: Ohya Shobo

Ukiyo-e, art books: Yamada Shoten

Ukiyo-e specialty shop: Toshusai

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Access

From Shinjuku Station to Kanda Station:
Take the Chuo Line direct to Kanda Station (12 minutes, ¥170)

From Tokyo Station to Kanda Station:
Take the Chuo Line direct to Kanda Station (2 minutes, ¥140)

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Reviews

5 years ago
Is there anything to do here?
If you're in Tokyo for a holiday, you're looking for fun right? You want to experience Japanese culture right? Kanda has very little of either of these things. Do you know anyone who says amazing things about Kanda? Probably not. Upon exiting the JR station you will greeted with pretty much nothing that cannot be found outside or around any JR station. I have wandered the area looking for some semblance of fun, but have yet to find it. Perhaps maybe I need to wander further, though perhaps there are just more exciting places in Tokyo to be explored. Kanda is not awful by any means. Be I have found nothing enjoyable here. The station is alright though.
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5 years ago
Good if you want to buy some books
Jinbōchō is named after Nagaharu Jinbō, a samurai who used to live here back in the days; although they took his name, there is little to no information about him on the signs here. Perhaps I can find something about him in one of the many history books on sale here today. At Book Town, one side of the street is exclusively used book shops. Little lanterns line the length of the street, and outside the usual shops, a massive corridor of small bookcases stretches the length of the event. On a normal day of book shopping, you would be spoilt for choice, but today, at the 55th Kanda Used Book Festival, the amount of used books in one area is more than anywhere else in the world. There is a shop specialising in only fashion books, another selling just manga comics, and another selling rare history books; they even have one book for sale for ¥350000. There is something I find calming about walking the aisles of a bookshop. Nobody is here trying to tout me into their shop, nobody asks me to enter when I am already inside, and nobody inside is speaking. The squeaking sound of my wet shoes the only thing disturbing the silence. The bookshops actually never end, and I easily get lost for a few hours in a world of words.
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