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With its privileged location looking down on the outer moat of Tokyo Imperial Palace, Kagurazaka was home to, and pleasure quarter for, the powerful and affluent for much of the Edo period. It is said at one point to have boasted over 160 geisha houses where over 600 geisha learnt their trade.

Restaurants hidden in the backstreets

The area was re-designed after the war, and it became a playground for politicians and tycoons who would dine in Kagurazaka’s traditional Japanese-style restaurants called ryotei. In more recent times it has witnessed another transformation into a small French community with relaxing cafes and a quaint atmosphere. But remnants of its former life can still be found in the side streets that split off from Waseda Dori: the geisha houses may have vanished but the ryotei certainly remain. Best to visit on a weekend. Turn left out of Kagurazaka Station and stroll down to Iidabashi Station at the bottom of the hill.

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