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In tourists brochures, the Hebi Dori is added mostly as an afterthought, and locals try to promote it to attract more tourists.
But the tiny street has an amazingly rich folk history. The name — Hebi Dori, or Snake Road, is a popular relatively recent nick name for a tiny unassuming street in Yanaka. It is named for its peculiar shape, the road as it is laid out wriggles back and forth like a snake, twisting its way between the houses.
It sounds far more exciting than it is. When I first walked here there was barely a couple of newly opened cafes along the route, but recently there are more businesses and shops along the road.
I took these photos last winter, and as you can see there really is not much to the naked eye. The story behind the road is all the more interesting though. Many centuries ago, this part of Tokyo was a deep inlet of Tokyo Bay, connecting it to the Pacific Ocean. As the land around Tokyo Bay was gradually reclaimed for housing and business, the deep inlet became a peninsula, and finally in the 19th century the two inlets had been reduced to two very slow moving rivers, which merged at this point to become the Aizengawa.
There are two stories behind the reason for this name, the first, official story, was that it got its name from the many indigo dyeing workshops located by the river.