Tokyo consists of many interlocking areas, each with its own essence and identity while contributing to an extraordinary bigger picture. While the buzzing neon-lit behemoths like Shinjuku and Shibuya, or the luxurious Ginza, are certainly attention-grabbing and fun, most Tokyoites would usually choose quieter, more local Tokyo neighborhoods to live in and Monzen-nakacho ranks high on their wishlists. It’s lively enough with its myriad of izakaya and shopping streets, and equal parts tranquil as the home to shrines and traditional structures.
Monzen-nakacho is an oasis of residential charm located centrally in Tokyo, making for a minimal commute and authentic daily experiences. It’s within a 15-minute train ride or cycle from Tokyo Station and the business districts of Marunouchi and Otemachi and it’s within walking distance of other up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Kabutocho and Kiyosumi.
Local places to eat and seasonal events are yours to discover, especially if you decide to move to the area. And if you are interested in living in Monzen-nakacho then we give you the lowdown on the best company to deal with when thinking about accommodation, Weave Place. To start you off, however, we highlight the top five things to do in this constantly vibrant district.
1. Buy a Coffee
The Tokyo coffee scene is growing and bursting with specialty coffee shops and many can be found in Monzen-nakacho and the neighboring Kiyosumi area. We suggest you try Monnaka Coffee, a store named after Monzen-nakacho’s popular nickname.
Monnaka Coffee is built with comfort and specialty coffee in mind. You can sip excellent lattes made with the coffee beans of your choice, in the cozy wooden interior or on the sun-speckled terrace. There’s also a selection of pastries, such as the “circro” round croissant dough that was invented by this particular store. In the evenings, Monnaka Coffee also serves craft beer and natural wine.
2. Eat Traditional Japanese Desserts
Monzen-nakacho’s nickname is also reminiscent of monaka, the traditional Japanese wafer snack filled with sweet red anko beans. So why not try monaka while in Mon-naka? And don’t stop at monaka, the thin wafer is not that filling so you’ll have space to try dorayaki, anmitsu, mitarashi dango and other Japanese snacks.
One recommendation is Fukagawa Iseya Honten. It’s a century-old manufacturer known for its delectable sweets including the anko beans-filled monaka wafer, as well as a rotating cast of seasonal delicacies such as sakuramochi in spring. Its flagship store in Monzen-nakacho is located in the shopping arcade, right next to a subway exit and close to Tomioka Hachiman Shrine.
3. Check Out the Shopping Arcades
A mix of everyday goods, Japanese food chains and small authentic mom-and-pop shops can be found in the covered shopping streets in Monzen-nakacho. Laid-back and unpretentious, the local shopping streets are fun to explore and convenient for residents. You can have lunch or dinner, purchase clothes or traditional wagashi (Japanese sweets) and rice crackers, for example. Venturing further in the smaller alleys behind the large shopping streets sometimes yields hidden bars and restaurants too, amongst residential houses.
4. Visit Tomioka Hachiman Shrine
This Shinto shrine is Tokyo’s largest Hachiman shrine (devoted to the god Hachiman) and it was chosen as one of the Tokyo Ten Shrines by the Meiji government over a century ago. Though the building was destroyed during the bombing of Tokyo in WWII, it was rebuilt later on the same foundations, so its history is considered to be just a few years shy of 400 years.
Tomioka Hachiman Shrine boasts even more superlatives, namely the biggest mikoshi (portable shrines) palanquins decorated with diamonds. Mikoshi are only brought out during traditional festivals, namely the mid-August Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri. The festival takes place every three years, the latest iteration being in 2023. The brilliant red shrine and its torii gates are wonderful to visit any other time too. On most weekends (excluding the third weekend of the month) you can also check out the antique fair held on the shrine’s grounds.
5. Have a Nightcap in Tatsumi Shindo, the Izakaya Street
Nostalgic for some, charmingly retro for others, Tatsumi Shindo, an alley with over 30 tiny bars, is keeping Showa period (1926-1989) aesthetics very much alive.
Built after the war, Tatsumi Shindo is similar, in some ways, to Shinjuku Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho. Each izakaya seats a small number of people, usually at the counter, where you are served various small bites and drinks. Moreover, you will often be handed a microphone at a Tatsumi Shindo establishment. Unlike modern private karaoke rooms, performing in front of your fellow izakaya-goers was the norm in Showa times, so you’ll hear singing and laughter spilling out from the various micro bars here. Thankfully, the small size of the izakaya guarantees a small audience too.
Living in Monzen-nakacho
The convenient location and rich local culture make Monzen-nakacho an ideal place to live. For those looking to rent a home in Tokyo, look no further than Weave Place. Weave Place is a part of Weave Living, the leading lifestyle rental accommodation brand within the Asia-Pacific area. Weave Living understands modern city dwellers’ needs and offers superior rental options in the Monzen-nakacho and Waseda areas. These are neighborhoods that pulsate with authentic local culture, and Monzen-nakacho is particularly exciting as it’s rich in tradition and history intertwined with new openings and modern comforts.
Weave Living promises a hassle-free rental experience, a rare find in Tokyo. In addition to language barriers, unfavorable lease conditions and prohibitive upfront costs are often major issues for prospective expat renters in Japan’s capital.
To combat that, Weave Living offers a comprehensive website in English with easy online booking and English-language support, with an all-inclusive rate that means no guarantor or key money are required plus utilities and Wi-Fi are all inclusive. The Weave Place units are fully self-contained with flexible short-term or long-term rental options, furnished or unfurnished — whatever suits your lifestyle best. Monthly rent starts from ¥201,000.
Find out more about Weave Living on the official website.