“Tokyo-ness” Uncovered: Exploring Stores with Centuries-Old Heritage from the Edo Period

Tokyo, once known as “Edo,” thrived during the Edo period (1603-1868), a time of peace that nurtured an array of businesses within the castle town. Remarkably, over 150 years later, some establishments are still in business, preserving ancient traditions. These stores offer products that embody Japan’s unique culture and Tokyo’s distinct character, making them alluring destinations for those seeking a taste of old Japan. In this article, we visited three longstanding shops that have withstood the test of time.

Toshimaya: A Sake Brewery Loved for Over 400 Years

Toshimaya stands as Tokyo’s oldest sake brewery, with its roots tracing back to 1596 when founder Juemon established a sake shop and tavern in Kanda, Tokyo. During the expansion of Edo Castle, stones and lumber required for construction were sourced from Kamakura and unloaded near the store. In this bustling hub, “Toshimaya” became a beloved restaurant, offering affordable drinks and snacks. Astonishingly, more than 400 years later, it continues to thrive. Sake, a delightful gift choice, can be procured from “Toshimaya.” Why not pay a visit?

An illustration of “Toshimaya” drawn about 200 years ago. The picture shows people buying sweet rice liqueur called shirozake (lit. white sake) brewed by Juemon for the Hinamatsuri (Japan’s girls’ festival).

Toshimaya Sake Shop for a casual sake & small dishes experience

For a casual sake and small dishes experience, explore the “Toshimaya Sake Shop” in KANDA SQUARE. This standing bar, operating under the concept of “Edo Tokyo Modern,” caters to both novice and seasoned sake enthusiasts. The menu ranges from traditional flavors cherished by sake aficionados to innovative concoctions popular among younger patrons. An English menu is available, and we highly recommend the “Sake Comparison Set.”

An English menu is also available! If you are unsure, try one of the “Sake comparison sets”.
(top left) “Tofu Dengaku” topped with miso and goat cream cheese (top right) “Toshimaya Butter” with butter and dried fruits (bottom left) “Amanatto” mascarpone (bottom right) Tuna sashimi
Toshimaya Honten

Address: 1-5-1 Kanda Sarugakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://maps.app.goo.gl/ea3MM1WNF7eJy3E87

Toshimaya Sake Shop

Address: 1F KANDA SQUARE, 2-2-1 Kanda-nishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://maps.app.goo.gl/gAAzB3cwJ5eCsmxi6

Yoshinoya Shoten: Crafting Lanterns Illuminating Tokyo’s Streets

Yoshinoya Shoten, founded in 1854, specializes in crafting various types of lanterns (chochin) that illuminate Tokyo’s streets. “Festival lanterns” preserve the traditions of the Kanda Festival, “large lanterns” enliven the Kobikicho Plaza of the Kabuki-za Theater, and “votive lanterns” cast a warm glow upon the grounds of the Tokyo Grand Shrine, providing a serene atmosphere. Each of these lanterns is meticulously handmade by Yoshinoya Shoten.

Yoshinoya Shoten’s showroom in Akihabara

Yoshinoya Shoten primarily manufactures lanterns for stores and shrines but also offers them for private sale. Owning a lantern handcrafted by an artisan on an Edo lantern is a unique and cherished experience.

If the timing is right, you can observe a craftsman writing with a brush directly on the lanterns!
Yoshinoya Shoten

Address: 2-13 Kanda-Sakumacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/L8jkkvQNYYsWuSb38

Amanoya: Warm Up with Traditional Sweetness and Amazake near Kanda Myojin

Amanoya, established in 1846, is a time-honored establishment renowned for its traditional amazake, crafted solely from rice and malt, without any added sugar. Nestled next to the shop where amazake and natto (fermented soybeans) are sold, the café invites you to cozy up while savoring warm amazake, infused with the gentle aroma of natural sweetness.

Try a set of amazake with intact rice grains (served with pickled daikon radish) for a special experience.
We recommend trying the countryside soup stock as a winter treat that will warm your senses.
Take a moment to appreciate the store’s charming decor adorned with a delightful collection of retro sundries!

After your visit to Kanda Myojin, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the comforting ambiance of Amanoya!


2-18-15 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
GoogleMaps: https://maps.app.goo.gl/UZxpr4NJ8VxrTZ8dA