Nippori is an overlooked area of Tokyo. Most people who do venture to this area will more than likely pass straight through it. It can be considered a focal gateway to Saitama, a residential city to the north of Tokyo. There really isn’t much for the regular tourist, but there area a couple of interesting things to see and do that could warrant a visit. The first would be the Fabric Town, and the other would be the Yanaka Cemetery. The other main reason to visit Nippori is to head to Narita Airport. It’s a popular transfer point for those on the west side of Tokyo who want to save some money by taking the Keisei Skyliner instead of the Narita Express.
The first thing to do in Nippori, would depend on your purpose. If you want to see the cemetery, I’d recommend heading there first. It’s a large area with a long history. If you head to the southern exit, you will be near the central entrance of the cemetery. From here, it’s a short walk up the hill to reach Tennoji Temple. This is a nice little temple with a seated Buddha inside. It’s actually a bit of a surprise as the outside appears somewhat modern and inside is a quaint little Buddhist Temple. It’s a nice place to go and relax for a few minutes, but the temple itself is pretty small. From there, you can head straight into the centre of the cemetery. The entire cemetery is lined with cherry trees. It is very beautiful in the spring as the entire area is bathed in pink from the cherry blossoms. In the autumn, it’s the same, but with colourful leaves. Yanaka Cemetery is also one of the most famous cemeteries in Japan with various writers, poets, politicians, and scholars.
Fabric town is located on the opposite side of Nippori Station. It’s a short walk from the station, and a little difficult to find. Look around the main entrance of the station, where all the taxis park, and you’ll find a few signs pointing you in the general direction. You have to walk past a major street before you enter Fabric Town. While it is called Fabric Town, it’s more or less of a street. There are very few shops located off the street that sell fabric, so don’t worry about venturing off the main street. Here, if you love to buy fabric of any type, this is the place to be. You can find various patterns, colours, thread, accessories, and so on. The fabric can come in silk, polyester, cotton, and even leather. If you love arts and crafts, enjoy sewing, or just looking for a good costume idea, this is a great place to get started. Metres of fabric can start at 100 yen each. Often, there are spools of fabric just sitting in bins in front of each shop inviting you to enter. Once inside, you’ll have to decide what you want, how much you are willing to spend, and how to bring it home. Husbands beware, if your wife loves sewing and crafts, you might want to drop her off and head over to Ueno for a little shopping, or even Akihabara to look at more electronics.
Other than that, there really isn’t much to see or do around the station. There are a few shops to visit, some izakayas and restaurants, but other than that, it’s a pretty boring place. The only interesting shop would be the Edwin store. They have a large shop located in front of the station where you can buy all of their latest jeans. Edwin is a Japanese jean maker whose headquarters are located at the end of Fabric Town. It is akin to Evisu jeans, although Edwin is not as big, nor as popular as Evisu. Either way, happy shopping.
Nippori (An article about an area that I barely visited in Nippori): http://www.nihonsun.com/2009/06/01/nippori-shopping-street-a-shotengai-worth-a-visit/
Yanaka Cemetery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanaka_Cemetery
Fabric Town Blog Post: http://www.askingfortrouble.org/crafts/2007/11/02/tokyo-shopping-guide-tomato/
Edwin Jeans: http://www.edwin.co.jp/index.html