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Sakura in Tokyo

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6744 Miles to Yanaka

In partnership with our friends from Bonsai, we have travelled 6,744.56 miles from New York to Yanaka to explore our roots and celebrate Sakura. Here's an overview of our favorite spots in case you decide to follow our wheels all the way to Japan. We hope you enjoy reading about it as much as we enjoyed riding through it.


tokyobike Rentals Yanaka
There is no better way to discover a new city than by bicycle —you get to cover so many more grounds, the smells are different and your senses are much more aware. We visited our Yanaka rental shop and grabbed bicycles to explore the neighborhood we call home. You can also get a delicious coffee, Japanese tea, beer or sake at our full service bar.

Yanaka (谷中)
One of the few districts in Tokyo where the shitamachi atmosphere, an old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo from past decades, still survives. Throughout the district, there is an air of nostalgia and a rustic charm. It is within walking distance of Ueno Park, and offers a different perspetive from the metropolitan city feel of other parts of Tokyo.

Sakura
Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of Spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. During the blossom period, families and friends gather together to celebrate —this is called Hanami and literally means “watching blossoms”, a tradition that can be traced back at least a thousand years. 

International Library of Children's Literature
A library dedicated to the collection and exhibition of children's literature, this building was first created in 1906. It was renovated by renowned architect Tadao Ando in 2002, who created the perfect interplay between modern architecture and history. No need to say we are big fans!

Yanaka Temples
There are more than 60 Buddhist temples surrounding the Yanaka Cemetery —an area of over 100 thousand square meters that hosts about 7 thousand graves. No other Temple Towns in Tokyo have the same scale as Yanaka, as this was one of the only regions to escape bombing during the Second World War.

Café Bach
Probably one of the best pour overs we have ever had, all the beans are roasted on the premises of this dedicated coffee specialist.

Nui. Hostel & Bar Lounge
Looking for a place to stay? This cute hostel comes equipped with tokyobikes and some of the best Japanese beers on tap.

Kamachiku
Inside a century-old redbrick kura (storehouse) and adjacent to a stunning Kengo Kuma building, this Udon restaurant is definitely worth a visit. If you don't mind waiting, ask for a table in the old storehouse but make sure to wear socks as your shoes will be left by the door.

Syuro
Syuro's atelier and shop is located at Torigoe - an area filled with classic typesetters, canning factories, cloth wholesalers, and hardware stores. Artisans and their arts, cultivated over many years, remain alive in this neighborhood. Luckily, you can get a little taste of Syuro from our online store here.

Kajiwara
Language has no barrier when food is involved. This 10-seat sushi bar is one of our favorites in Tokyo, even though the chef doesn't speak English. That should definitely not put you off, it is worth trusting his choices and enjoying the Omakase menu. And if you are a fan of Saba (makerel), it is always fresh and to die for.

SCAI THE BATHHOUSE
Opened in 1993 with the completion of the renovation of Kashiwayu, a venerable public bath with a 200-year history. The outside of the bathhouse possesses an elegant atmosphere, with its tiled roof and towering chimney. Take one step inside and you find yourself in a very unique exhibition area. Located in Yanaka, a stones throw from tokyobike, this gallery lies in middle of an art zone, conveniently close to Ueno where many museums and art universities can be found.

Cycling in Tokyo
The Japanese have a very strong communal culture and when it comes to bikes in cities, there’s a self-fulfilling cycle of tolerance that occurs: as more people ride bikes, more people become sensitive to the needs of bike riders. So it’s not uncommon to find bikes left unlocked on the streets in Tokyo, riders on the sidewalk (a regular habit in the city) and very little bike lanes.

Cafe de l'ambre
Cafe de l’ambre first opened its doors in 1948. It moved locations in the ’70s, but has always called Ginza home. The owner is 100 and is still roasting beans and we were lucky enough to meet him that day.

Ginza
Known for its upscale shopping, Ginza is home to some of the most beautiful modern buildings in Tokyo. Our favorite - Maison Hérmes, constructed between 1998 and 2001 and designed by Renzo Piano.

Milonga Nueva
Hidden in a small alley in Jimbocho, this wonderfully retro cafe plays old tango tunes on the sound system and serves up blends, such as Kilimanjaro coffee, as well as a selection of beers from around the world.

Komiyama Bookstore
Heaven of vintage books, photography and contemporary art, this 4-story book store in the incredible neighborhood of Jimbocho is a must. If you’re in the market for a pricey birthday gift, the ¥216,000 original copy of Daido Moriyama’s Farewell Photography will do nicely.

Postalco
Another tokyobike favorite, we had the pleasure to visit Postalco's shop in Shibuya and cross paths with Mike Abelson, co-founder of the brand with his wife Yuri. No need to go all the way to Shibuya, even though we totally recommend you to, but you can grab a Postalco or two right here.

Tatemichiya
This punk-rock izakaya restaurant in Daikanyama couldn't be more fun if it tried. Even famed artist Yoshitomo Nara is a fan — head for the tables towards the back of the main floor to check the illustrations that he left.

Ivy Place
Located in Daikanyama, one of our favorite neighborhoods, they serve the best pancakes in town —a nation-wide favorite food. Head into Tsutaya Books afterwards for a selection of magazines, music and more. Tip: If you have to work while in Tokyo, they have the most peaceful and productive cafe on the second floor - Anjin.

Ganchan
Looking for a delicious Yakitori (Japanese skewered chicken)? Head to Roppongi  for this traditional joint and their great selection of beer, sake, and of course, incredibly flavorful chicken.

Nakameguro
Home to one of our 3 tokyobike shops in Tokyo, Nakameguro is popular for its unique boutique cafes and stores. It becomes incredibly vibrant and active along the Meguro River during the Cherry Blossoms festival, which we were lucky to experience.

Meiji Shrine
Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū) is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly thereafter. The Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city, also home of one of the biggest Sakura celebrations in Tokyo.


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We couldn't have explored Tokyo as in depth as we did without a very special group of people -

A big thank you to our tokyobike Japan family for hosting us in Yanaka and lending us bicycles to cruise around. An even bigger thank you to our founder, Ichiro Kanai, for taking his time and leading us through this amazing neighborhood. You can follow tokyobike Japan at @tokyobike_jp and tokyobike Rentals at @tokyobike_rentals.

Thank you also, to our good friend Curtis Christophersen, for taking taking us to his favorite book stores, coffee shops and restaurants. You can follow more of his local explorations at @crtzmo.

Last but not least, the great talent of Stefaan du Pont and Sarah Murphy from Miles & Miles who stopped half way through an incredible itinerary to join us in Tokyo and capture the beautiful imagery you see here.

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