Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?

Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?



Kagurazaka: A Finest Gourmet District in Tokyo

Kagurazaka is not a bustling commercial district lined with large shopping buildings like Ginza. Instead, it is known as a gourmet district, with many small shops densely packed in a shopping street, despite being a residential area. As of the end of May 2024, Kagurazaka has 23 Michelin Guide-listed restaurants, accounting for 4.4% of Tokyo's total and 53.5% of Shinjuku Ward's total.
Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?
We investigated the nighttime dining price range (price per person) for restaurants within an 800-meter radius of each major station using Tabelog. In the Kagurazaka Station area, 54% of the restaurants fall into the low-price range of ¥5,000 or less. This percentage is significantly lower than Tokyo Station (72%), Shibuya Station (81%), Shinjuku Station (85%), and Ikebukuro Station (89%). Ginza Station is at 51%, indicating that the Kagurazaka Station area has many high-priced restaurants comparable to Ginza Station.

Nighttime Dining Price Range per Person at Major Stations in Tokyo

Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?
Source: Tabelog

Historical Roots of Kagurazaka's Gourmet Excellence

But why does Kagurazaka have so many high-priced restaurants comparable to Ginza? Why is Kagurazaka one of Tokyo's finest gourmet districts? One major reason Kagurazaka is renowned as a gourmet district is the historical presence of geisha districts dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). Numerous ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurants) where geisha could be invited were concentrated here, attracting VIPs from the political and business worlds. This entertainment culture undoubtedly raised the standards of the ryotei and surrounding restaurants. 
Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?

How Kagurazaka's Political History Shaped Its Gourmet Legacy

Former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka (1918-1993) and other top Japanese politicians frequented Kagurazaka. The largest ryotei in Kagurazaka, Matsugae, was managed by the mistress of Bukichi Miki (1884-1956), a key figure in the founding of the Liberal Democratic Party (the party that has been the ruling party of Japan for many years). This ryotei was the stage for the formation of the Liberal Democratic Party. It is no exaggeration to say that post-war Japanese politics were driven in Kagurazaka. Kagurazaka was also the stage for various negotiations among top corporate executives.
Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?

Cultural Influence and Literary Presence in Kagurazaka

Moreover, Kagurazaka has long been a cultural center, contributing to its gourmet culture. Many literary figures, such as Soseki Natsume and Koyo Ozaki, resided here, making Kagurazaka known as the birthplace of modern Japanese literature. 

Even today, renowned figures like film director Yoji Yamada wrote scripts for "Tora-san" at the Wakana inn, and writers like Akiyuki Nosaka and Shizuka Ijuin wrote books here. Rakugo masters like Ensho Sanyutei and Shinchou Kokontei also lived in Kagurazaka.

Currently, Living National Treasure Wakasanojo Tsuruga (Shinnai Joruri reciter) and architect Kengo Kuma reside here. These cultural figures undoubtedly contributed to Kagurazaka's gourmet status. The presence of significant political, business, and cultural figures also led to the development of a bar culture. Even now, there are over 70 bars in Kagurazaka.

Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?

The French Spice Elevated Kagurazaka's Gourmet District

Additionally, French culture has been added to Kagurazaka's mix since the founding of the Institut français du Japon - Tokyo in 1952. With many French residents, authentic French restaurants line the streets. Eventually, Kagurazaka became known as "Petit Paris" or "Japan's Montmartre." 

These intertwined elements of geisha districts, prominent political and business figures, cultural icons, and French influences have made Kagurazaka one of Tokyo's top gourmet districts.

Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?

The Depth of Kagurazaka's Charm: Affordable Dining Options in a Student District

Meanwhile, Kagurazaka is also a student district. Tokyo University of Science and Hosei University is located in Kagurazaka, and Waseda University is a bit further away. Therefore, there are many relatively low-priced restaurants. As the earlier data shows, 54% of the restaurants around Kagurazaka Station are priced at ¥5,000 or less. It is not just high-end restaurants. 
Why is Kagurazaka One of Tokyo's Finest Gourmet Districts?

Don't Miss Kagurazaka - A Finest Gourmet District and Hidden Gem for Foreign Tourists

In this way, Kagurazaka is a city that can meet a wide range of gourmet needs and is a city of diversity. However, while Kagurazaka is relatively well-known among Japanese, it is not well-known to foreign tourists, except for residents. This is evident because you rarely see foreign tourists in Kagurazaka.

It is a shame not to know the luxury of experiencing real Japanese life in the shopping street during the day and savoring gourmet delights at night in one of Japan's top gourmet districts. We hope foreign tourists will visit Kagurazaka. They will regret not coming to Kagurazaka sooner and will likely become repeat visitors, keeping Kagurazaka as their secret hideaway.

Next time, we will introduce the 23 restaurants in Kagurazaka listed in the Michelin Guide.

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Kagurazaka Walking Tour

How to Access Kagurazaka

The Kagurazaka area is conveniently located within 30 minutes from any major station in Tokyo. This is because Kagurazaka is situated in the heart of Tokyo, at the center of the Yamanote Line. Please come and visit this convenient and charming Kagurazaka.
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