January 18

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Cat Map

Here’s something I definitely couldn’t do in San Francisco: the cat-petting tour of Sendagi! This handy map details all the local feline fiefdoms. It’s posted outside a store specializing in all-kitty merchandise.

This neighborhood is where I spent a lot of time researching Nightshade, the first book in my mystery series. Yumi Hata and Kenji Nakamura live right near this cat shop!

Wandering around the neighborhood near Sendagi station, you’ll chance upon a whole range of quirky stores like this. There’s the calligraphy brush maker, a store specializing in Taisho era (jazz age) kimonos, the seaweed tea shop, shops supplying raw pigments for the local art school students, and the chiyogami store, which sells prints with Edo Era designs.

Detail from a piece of paper I bought at the chiyogami store

Neighborhood food is traditional, inexpensive, and great. Here’s a dish I inhaled last summer on the way to the Nezu Shrine:

Chilled noodles with grated ginger, radish, green onions, and a squeeze of sudachi lime

The Nezu shrine, which is between Sendagi station and Nezu station, is my favorite shrine in Tokyo because of the torii gate tunnel.

If you’d like to visit the Nezu area the next time you’re in Tokyo, maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with two strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more