Takemura, a traditional style cafe.
Do you know what is "Edokko"(*)?

"Edokko" means the people who are born and brought up in Edo (present Tokyo). More precisely, however, Edokko are defined to be those who "use tap water and see golden dolphins on the Edo palace, and are born in Shiba and brought up in Kanda". Tamagawa waterworks were already built in the 17th century and the residents in Edo were very proud that they could drink tap water. The Edo palace was where Shoguns resided and ruled over Japan peacefully for 270 years. The two place names, Shiba and Kanda, represent the areas in Edo where middle or lower class tradesmen and artisans lived and worked. In particular, Kanda was the heart of the lowbrow Edo and was starkly contrasted with the Yamanote where samurais lived or Nihonbashi where big merchants originated in Kansai region had their shops (**). Edokko were in reality poor urban workers who came from countryside. They had nothing to boast except that they were living in Edo. The motto of Edokko, having no money overnight, simply reflected the fact that they didn't have money to save. Anyhow, Edokko were featured in dramas, Rakugo(***) tales and so on.

Kanda is, as I mentioned above, the heart of Edo and the Mecca of Edokko, in other words the essence of the Edo culture.

After the Maiji restoration, Kanda, in particular the Sudacho area was developed and enjoyed prosperity so long as Manseibashi station (now Transportation Museum : see the map below) was the main station in Tokyo. From the end of the 19th century Manseibashi became the center of the downtown in Tokyo. Then, the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred in 1923 and destroyed everything.

The reconstruction rapidly took place and many of the traditional buildings which we can see now were constructed in the period.
However, the central shopping area of Tokyo shifted to Nihonbashi and Ginza when the Second World War was approaching.

Then, the air-raids in 1944 and 1945 burnt down almost everything on the surface of Tokyo. In Kanda ward 18,650 houses were destroyed by the air-raids from November 29, 1944 till April 13, 1945, and only 3,000 houses, mostly in the Sudacho area, were left at the end of the war.

Many of those old houses were thereafter torn down and replaced by modern and tasteless buildings. However, the Sudacho area is still very interesting to stroll and stop by.
Click the names to see the photos.
This is the "golden triangle" in the midst of the lousy Tokyo business area.

There are several famous restaurants in the area. Though I cannot necessarily recommend them because of their taste, it would not reduce the value of experiencing the atmosphere.

The easiest place to visit might be Takemura, a Japanese style cafe. You can take a rest after lunch by tasting their deep fried dumplings. Then, the most popular restaurant in this area might be Matsuya, a soba restaurant. I think that Matsuya is also famous among foreigners, since I often see also some expats there during lunch time. The other soba restaurant, Kanda Yabu, boasts of its tradition and most expensive price lists :-(

There are also another interesting places. Botan is a restaurant specialized in chicken pot.
Isegen, established in 1830, offers anglerfish pot. Both restaurants keep traditional style and really worth visiting. There are another old restaurants in the area. But, most of them have reconstructed their houses and replaced the traditional buildings with the modern concrete ones.

Anyhow, there are few places in and around Tokyo which retain the old atmosphere due to the air-raids during the War and the development which took place in the last decades. So, the Sudacho area is a very precious place for us, especially because it is located in the midst of the busiest areas of Tokyo and easily accessible. It is only 5 minutes walk from Akihabara, 10 minutes walk from bookstores of Kanda.