Introducing Lidabashi & Northwest Tokyo
From gardens to spas, the mixed sights in this large swathe of Tokyo are scattered among smaller districts. Start at Kudanshita and walk through the grand torii of Yasukuni-jinja shrine, a controversial tribute to Japan’s war dead. The history museum on the grounds is well worth an hour or two, especially for its vintage Mitsubishi Zero fighter planes and other armaments.
Next, make your way over the old outer moat for lunch in the Iidabashi and Kagurazaka area; Kururi is an excellent rāmen shop not too far away or you could try Canal Café on the moat itself. Kagurazaka makes for some atmospheric shopping and strolling, though the Koishikawa Kōrakuen gardens to the east are a better place to stretch your legs. You can relax at the grand La Qua spa near Tokyo Dome, or try to catch a baseball game if the Yomiuri Giants are playing.
From here, the subway can take you to farther-flung sights, such as the excellent Chinzan-sō and Rikugi-en gardens, the Takadanobaba student area with its myriad ethnic restaurants, or Ikebukuro’s Namjatown, a theme park devoted in part to Chinese dumplings and ice cream. Don’t bother counting those calories.