Kagurazaka: A Unique Blend of Japanese and French Cultures in Tokyo

Discover the charm of 神楽坂 Kagurazaka, a district in Tokyo where traditional Japanese culture meets a distinct French influence. Although Kyoto is often associated with geisha, Kagurazaka is a lesser-known Tokyo gem that was once a lively geisha district and still houses a few geisha establishments. Today, this captivating area offers a diverse experience, from culinary delights and picturesque streets to temples and shrines steeped in history. In Kagurazaka, you’ll experience a fusion of Japanese and French-inspired establishments, with traditional shops and modern boutiques lining the charming cobblestone alleyways.


Kagurazaka Station.

Kagurazaka is easily accessible via the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line and the Toei Oedo Line. The nearest station is Kagurazaka Station (T05, E05), which is approximately 15 minutes from Tokyo Station. From the station, many of Kagurazaka’s main attractions are within walking distance.

Food and Drink

Japanese cuisine: This main street is lined with traditional Japanese shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering a delightful culinary experience. Here, visitors can sample a variety of Japanese dishes, from sushi to tempura, and immerse themselves in local flavors.

Shrimp for lunch in a Kagurazaka Japanese restaurant.

French cuisine: Thanks to its proximity to L’Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo and the French International School, Kagurazaka boasts numerous French restaurants, patisseries, and cafes where visitors can indulge in French cuisine, coffee, and pastries. The area has become a hub for French expatriates and Francophiles, creating a unique blend of cultures that sets Kagurazaka apart from other Tokyo neighborhoods.

Both kimonos and French flags are common sights in Kagurazaka.


While Kagurazaka is not specifically known for shopping, the district offers a variety of shops that sell traditional crafts, clothing, and souvenirs. Visitors will enjoy strolling through the charming streets, and exploring the boutique stores and artisan shops. The area is particularly known for its antique shops, where visitors can find unique treasures and vintage items that make for memorable souvenirs.

神楽坂通り Kagurazaka-dori street is the bustling heart of the neighborhood, offering numerous shopping opportunities.

Sightseeing and Activities

Backstreets and alleys: The labyrinth of Kagurazaka’s narrow alleys and backstreets recall the area’s past as an entertainment district. As you wander through these picturesque cobblestoned lanes, there are charming hidden shops and restaurants, many of which open only in the evening. If you visit after dusk, you may even catch a glimpse of a geisha entering one. (If you do, don’t take photos without permission.)

One of the cobblestoned alleys of Kagurazaka.

善國寺 Zenkoku-ji Temple: Established in 1595, this beautiful temple is dedicated to Bishamonten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, and offers blessings of business success, luck in competitions, warding off evil and bringing in good fortune. It’s at the heart of all traditional festivals in the neighborhood.

Zenkoku-ji temple is one of Kagurazaka’s landmarks.

Kagurazaka also has festivals offering a glimpse into the vibrant local culture, such as:

Kagurazaka Awa Odori dance festival: Held in August, this festival features lively dancers and musicians filling the streets.

Dancers in colorful costumes perform during the Kagurazaka Awa Odori dance festival.

Kagurazaka Bakeneko Festival: In October, a unique celebration featuring a parade of participants dressed as supernatural cats is held. Why cats? Kagurazaka is where Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki once lived, and his most famous novel was I Am a Cat.

Cooking Classes: Kagurazaka is home to many cooking schools where you can learn to cook Japanese cuisine. Take a class and learn to make sushi, tempura, or other Japanese dishes under the guidance of experienced chefs.

A cooking class where foreign visitors are learning to make sushi. [Photo for illustration purposes only]


Kagurazaka offers a truly unique experience, combining the rich history of its geisha past with the delightful French influences found throughout the district. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for a captivating area to explore in Tokyo, Kagurazaka will leave a lasting impression on your visit to Japan. As you stroll through the enchanting streets and delve into the diverse range of cultural offerings, you’ll soon discover why Kagurazaka is a hidden gem that showcases the rich tapestry of Japanese culture.