Nestled cozily at the edge of the Shinjuku ward, Kagurazaka is a site of history and culture within Tokyo. In the early 1950s, a French language institute known as Institut français du Japon opened nearby bringing numerous French expatriates to Japan. The Institut français du Japon still stands in Kagurazaka today just a short walk from Iidabashi Station.
The Institut is home to a serene courtyard, a library with 24,000 French books, and the restaurant La Brasserie. Like much of Kagurazaka, it is also the site of numerous film and photography locations. However, some people visit the Institute just to dine at the restaurant.
The large amount of expatriates that ended up living in the area also led to an explosion of French eateries. As a result, Kagurazaka is the largest concentration of French food and desserts. You can find the desserts in patisseries, a type of French bakery that specializes in sweets.
The main street of Kagurazaka is essentially a slope, arriving from Iidabashi Station puts you at the bottom of the main street called Waseda Dori. From most of the French restaurants can be found by weaving in and out of the alleyways away from Waseda Dori.
Places of Interest:
A bakery with daily fresh baked bread and antique French furnishings. They also have a myriad of sweets such as eclairs and purport a “100 different items every day”. If you’re in the mood for some light French fair, they also have sandwiches and special pastries, like croissants, using ingredients imported directly from France.
The first creperie shop in all of Japan, Le Bretange specializes in crepes from Brittany, a peninsula of France. These savory crepes, called galettes, fold in on themselves and are made of buckwheat. Le Bretange makes an alcoholic apple cider, another Brittany product, which is a sweet and refreshing compliment to their galettes.
Not French, but offers a unique European flair. Canal Cafe is an Italian cafe right on the canal with a picturesque view of the water and the train tracks. It offers Italian foods like formaggio and gelato as well as espresso drinks. You can also rent a rowboat to take out on the water.