Kagurazaka

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For other uses, see Kagurazaka (disambiguation).
Lower portion of Kagurazaka street.
Akagi Shrine complex, designed by Kengo Kuma.
July 2007 Awa Odori in Kagurazaka.

Kagurazaka (神楽坂?) is a neighbourhood in Tokyo, near Iidabashi Station. It has a shopping street at its center, lined by numerous cafés and restaurants. It is served by Tokyo Metro Tozai Line and Toei Oedo Line.

History[edit]

The main road of Kagurazaka was once at the outer edge of Edo Castle, opposite the Ushigome bridge over the castle moat, and has always been busy because of this privileged location.[1] In the early 20th century, the area was renowned for its numerous geisha houses, of which several remain today. Currently, Kagurazaka is experiencing a popularity boom due to its traditional, sophisticated atmosphere on the edge of modern Shinjuku ward and proximity to Waseda University. The area is also home to a number of publishing houses.

View of Kagurazaka and Ushigome bridge to Edo Castle (牛込神楽坂の図) by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1840.
Kagurazaka in 1908.
An old backstreet in Kagurazaka.

While it retains a traditional Japanese atmosphere, Kagurazaka now boasts a significant French presence with many French expatriates living in the area due to the proximity of l'Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo and the Lycée franco-japonais de Tokyo's primary section. Kagurazaka also boasts Tokyo's largest concentration of French eateries, bakeries and cheese shops. l'Institut Franco-Japonais holds a lively program of cultural events, food tastings, and film screenings.

Kagurazaka is also widely regarded as an important center of Japanese cuisine within the Kanto region. Several old and famous "ryōtei" are to be found in the winding back streets, often accessible only by foot. These ryotei provide expensive "kaiseki" cuisine, which is generally regarded as the pinnacle of Japanese food. Ryotei also allow diners to invite geisha to provide entertainment during the course of the evening. Many shops in the area cater to this culture, especially selling kimono, Japanese sweets, and tea.

Miscellaneous[edit]

The Kagurazaka Awa Odori (Japanese: 阿波踊り) festival is held the fourth Friday and Saturday each July. Awa Odori is the famous festival from Tokushima. The Kagurazaka connection to the dance goes back to the Edo era, when the Tokugawa daimyo donated the Ushigome Mitsuke. This is the fortified gate at at the bottom of the Kagurazaka hill, on the opposite side of the canal. Today, only its foundations remain, and can be found just to the south of JR Iidabashi station.

Akagi Shrine (Akagi Jinja/赤城神社) was formerly found at the top end of Kagurazaka. It was recently redeveloped with a new shrine and apartment complex, designed by world renown architect Kengo Kuma, and opened to the public in September 2010.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°42′05″N 139°44′25″E / 35.70139°N 139.74028°E / 35.70139; 139.74028