explore yanesen

Yoshida – Old sake in old Tokyo

Yoshida old sake store (旧吉田屋酒店) is a free museum in Ueno Sakuragi, right on the border with Yanaka. It is one of the locations to drop by when visiting the area. It is right across the street from Kayaba coffee. This building was originally built in 1910 and partly reconstructed in 1930, but the history of the store itself goes way back to the Edo period. The shop closed in 1986. This truly beautiful old building was donated to the Taito ward and turned into a museum, it now is an annex of the Shitamachi museum in Ueno park.

While the building is remarkable, it is a little bit sad to see it standing all alone. I could imagine this building in a busy shopping street next to other similar shops. Now, it is a little sad and life-less. This building was actually moved from another place, its original location was in Yanaka 6-chome, the block to the west. Inside of the building, you can see a couple of old photos from the store as it used to be, with the staff lined up in front, one taken in 1876 and one in 1910.

The interior of the building.

Inside of this building, the items from the old sake shop are rather packed. Most impressive are the original wooden interior, with many closets and of course the sake bottles and barrels. On the floor you can find the original scales that they used to weigh back in the day. The old beer and sake posters on the wall are also cool to look at.

Old posters to sell booze

On the right hand side (separate entrance) there is a small exhibition of small paintings of temples, sights and landmarks in the area. These small artworks with an an impressionistic character are worth taking a look at.

Please be warned that you cannot actually buy sake here anymore, but you can have your picture taking with a traditional hanten jacket, that says in big characters 下町 (shitamachi).

All in all, a nice little place, with in particular the building being the main selling point, in particular the sign on top is pretty impressive. I would not include it in my first itinerary of the area, but if you have some time to spare, please stop by!

In practice

2-10-6 Ueno Sakuragi, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Closest station:
Nippori Station – 10 minutes walk (Yamanote line, Joban Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Keisei main line and Nippori-Toneri Liner).
Nezu or Sendagi Station – 10 minutes walk (Chiyoda line)
Ueno station (main station) – 10 minutes walk from Park exit (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line and Hibiya Line, Utsunomiya Line, Takasaki Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Yamanote Line, Joban Line and various Shinkansen lines)

Opening hours: 9:30-16:30 (last entrance 16:00). Closed on Monday and national holidasy (als when the national holiday was during the weekend). Closed also 29 December – 3 January.

Entrance fee: free

Web: http://www.taitocity.net/zaidan/shitamachi/shitamachi_annex/ (in Japanese)

When to best visit? All year round

Why visit? A traditional merchant house out in the open.

Places to visit or things to do in the area? Right in the Yanesen area, at the other side of the street is Kayaba coffee. Ueno Sakuragi Atari is also extremely close.