explore ningyocho

5 places to visit on Amazake-Yokocho in Ningyocho

Amazake-Yokocho is a famous old shopping street, called shotengai, in the Nimhonbashi-Ningyocho area in Tokyo. I have visited before the Yanaka Ginza, which is probably a more pleasant street for a stroll on a lazy afternoon. Amazake-Yokocho is a regular road, rather wide, with busy traffic. However, when exploring the Ningyocho area, it is definitely worth some time to pass by and sample the excellent food they have on offer.

The street runs for about 400 meters from the A1 exit of Ningyocho station to the Meiji-za Theater. The highlights for me were Morinoen (for the hojicha tea) and Futaba Tofu (for the sheer variety of tofu products) as the specific merchandise you can find here is unique in Tokyo. If you are haven’t tried yet a real original taiyaki, then Yanagiya is also a must stop-by.

The five stores below are by no means the only ones on the street. Don’t forget that very close to this street you can also sample Ningyo-yaki.

1. Morinoen

Morinoen is a century-old tea shop where they roast their tea in the studio above the store. The smell will guide you right to this shop as soon as you enter Amazake-Yokocho street. What makes this tea store special is their focus on houjicha, a type of Japanese green tea that is made by roasting the tealeaves in a porcelain pot over charcoal, as opposed to other Japanese teas, which are steamed. You can buy all kinds of types and grades of this hojicha tea here (one of my favourite types of green tea). What makes it even better is the second floor, where they have a small cafe with various types of hojicha (and other) ice cream parfaits! At the side of the building the also have a window where they sell houjicha soft cream.

The selection of tea in Morinoen.

2-4-9 Ninombashi-Ningyocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
(see the map at the bottom of this article)

Opening hours:
Shop (ground floor): weekdays: 9:00-19:00, weekends and holidays: 11:00-18:00
Cafe (second floor): weekdays: 12:00-18:00, weekends and holidays 11:00-17:30 (last order at 17:00)

Web: http://morinoen.jp/ (in Japanese)

The product to try here: Hojicha, Japanese roasted green tea. A small pack will cost around JPY 500. The ice cream on the second floor costs between JPY 800 and 1200. The soft cream from the window from the side of the building from JPY 300.

Name in Japanese: 森乃園


2. Tofu no Futaba

In this shop, established in 1949, they are making tofu in the traditional way. The owner who established the shop already started business in 1907, but it took until after the war to open a dedicated shop in Ningyocho. They specialize in everything tofu and soy, from soft cream to tofu donuts to veggie ganmo (tofu stuffed with veggies and then fried). The tofu part might sound healthy, but I am afraid the “fried” component of many of these goodies might not be the best idea. At this store, you can also taste the beverage for which this street is known: amazake, a traditional sweet, low-alcohol Japanese drink made from fermented rice.

The shop front of Tofu no Futaba.

2-4-9 Nihonbashi-ningyocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
(see the map at the bottom of this article)

Opening hours:
Shop: Mon-Sat: 7:00-19:00, Sun: 10:00-18:00
Second floor: Lunch 11:30-14:00 (last order 13:45), dinner 17:00-22:30 (last order 21:30)

Web: http://www.tofunofutaba.com/ (in Japanese)

The product to try here: Tofu donut (3 for JPY 310), Yasai Ganmo (8 for JPY 500). Lunch (on the second floor) costs around JPY 1000, dinner JPY 3000.

Name in Japanese: とうふの双葉


3. Yanagiya

This shop was established in 1916 and they use the single mold to create a crisp and tasty taiyaki. Taiyaki is a Japanese cake in the form of a sea bream filled with sweetened azuki beans. Be prepared for a very long line on weekends. Interested in more taiyaki? Read my full feature on taiyaki.

The shop front of Yanagiya, be prepared for a long queue on Saturdays.

2-11-3 Nihonbashi-ningyocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
(see the map at the bottom of this article)

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11:00-18:00. Closed on Sundays.

The product to try here: One taiyaki for JPY 140.

Name in Japanese: 柳屋


4. Shinodazushi Sohonten

This store looks very new, but actually this is one of the oldest stores on the street. Shinodazushi Sohonten began selling take-out sushi in 1877 on this street for people who went to the nearby Meiji-za Theater. Their speciality is Inari-zushi (稲荷寿司), a pouch of fried tofu typically filled with sushi rice alone. They also have several other interesting types of sushi, such as Chakin-zushi (茶巾寿司), which is sushi wrapped in a thin omelet-like skin.

2-10-10 Ninombashi-Ningyocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
(see the map at the bottom of this article)

Opening hours: 9:00-19:00

web: http://www.shinodazushi.co.jp/ (in Japanese)

The product to try here: inari-zushi (a box for 6 close to JPY 600)

Name in Japanese: 志乃多寿司總本店


5. Soba Toshimaya

This is a lesser known restaurant in Ningyocho, but attracted my attention due to the beautiful store front. The restaurant has been in the family for over 100 years. The simple and delicious soba they serve here perfectly matches the traditional atmosphere of the Amazake-Yokocho street. If you know some Japanese, the characters on the noren (the cloth hanging in the door opening) when you enter the store do not make any sense to you, that is perfectly normal as it is written in old characters. The characters in the circle say kisoba (生蕎麦), which means they are making their own soba.

The shop front of Soba Toshimaya

2-4-9 Ninombashi-Ningyocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
(see the map at the bottom of this article)

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11:45-16:00, 18:00-21:30. Closed on Sunday.

The product to try here: Tanuki-soba for JPY 600

Name in Japanese: そば東嶋屋