Escape Tokyo’s hustle and bustle in the serenity of this Kyoto-style restaurant.
To get an authentic taste of Tokyo, the quintessential shitamachi district (“low city”) of Ueno is a must-see. It’s a place where the working class lived for centuries, rather than aristocrats and rich merchants. The bustling area keeps its history alive with little shops and markets crammed in tiny alleys and spaces, and shopkeepers shout- ing their latest promotions to the crowds that walk by. There’s enough to do in this district to keep you busy for a full day, but after exploring the lively and packed streets, you’ll probably find yourself hungry for a relaxed meal that you can enjoy in peace.
Tuzigahana’s own miniature garden
Real gems are sometimes found in the unlikeliest of places, and a little piece of elegant Kyoto is found here, only minutes by foot from the Ueno Station. Tuzigahana is named after an ancient fabric-dyeing technique that existed only briefly during the Muromachi period. This technique represents the temporal nature of the dishes that are served here—existing only briefly and disappearing with the rotating seasons. Step into the restaurant and suddenly you’ll be transported to a world of aristocratic dining. A kimono-wearing staff member will greet you at the entrance and lead you down a long stone path flanked with big wooden columns. Your own private dining room awaits you behind one of the paper screens.
At Tuzigahana, all parties are treated to their own private space, which fits anywhere from 2 to 30 people. Each room is unique, but all spacious washitsu (Japanese-style) rooms have tatami flooring and other traditional Japanese elements like horigotatsu, which are tables with a cavity underneath them that allow guests to sit comfortably on the floor with their legs relaxed. Sliding open the shoji (rice-paper screen) window gives view to the meticulously kept garden in the middle of the restaurant, maintained by a master gardener and complete with a pond. Listening to the sound of the water and soft shamisen music in the background, you can finally spread out and relax as if you’ve come home.
The food that is served matches the sophistication and authenticity of the restaurant’s interior, with fine washoku or Japanese dishes created by renowned chefs. Order the enkai course for a multi-course presentation of the chef’s recommendations and get a taste of seasonal and quality ingredients used in the traditional Kyoto style—delicately prepared with the natural flavours drawn out and enhanced. Tuzigahana is devoted to composing intricate dishes that balance the taste and appearance of different foods, with close attention to texture, colour and even temperature. Intensely focused on the season, the eight to ten courses are presented thoughtfully with stunning elegance and simplicity, and are as much a visual feast as an edible one.
If you’re a meat lover or are looking for some protein to replenish your strength after a long day on your feet, order the less traditional meat kaiseki course. Tuzigahana prides itself in selecting only the finest meats available and prepares them in traditional and innovative ways. The beautiful presentation and fine dishware will make you feel like you’re indulging in a work of art.
The exquisite food and atmosphere might have you thinking that eating here would be a formal dining experience, but that’s not the case at Tuzigahana. Hidden away with your companions from the rest of the restaurant, you are free to relax and make yourself at home—the only way to truly enjoy a meal as elaborate and sensual as this.
Spend a day exploring the district and check out some of its highlights:
- Ueno Park: Stroll through the wooded pathways of this gigantic park and see historic shrines.
- Tokyo National Museum: One of the country’s oldest and largest museums. You can spend hours here looking at their marvellous collection.
- Ueno Zoo: The oldest and perhaps best-known zoo in Japan, this world-class zoo is the home to animals from all over the world.
- Ameya-Yokocho: The open-air market is where American army surplus goods used to be sold after WWII, but it’s now a great shopping area for everything from knick-knacks to clothes and food.
Located a five-minute walk from JR Ueno Station’s Shinobazu exit. It is one of the four restaurants occupying the Ueno Kuromon Shiobazu-ya Bettei (4th floor) of the Suzuno-ya Building.
Suzuno-ya Bldg. 4th floor, 1-20-11 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Lunch: Sat–Sun 11 am–4 pm
Dinner: Mon–Sat 5 pm–11 pm • Sun & Holidays 5 pm–10 pm