The sleet was lashing down, the wind whipping off Tokyo Bay as we trudged the streets of Ningyocho, eastern Nihonbashi, in search of dinner. Appalling conditions, certainly, but worth braving for the down-home charms of an evening at Yoshiume.

Just arriving there was enough to lift the spirits. Turning off the busy main drag, you find yourself in a tranquil, traffic-free alley lined on either side by low wooden buildings lit by the welcoming glow of traditional lanterns. You could almost be in the old back streets of Kyoto or Kanazawa.

This is the historic heart of a neighborhood that is arguably Tokyo's most atmospheric and most deeply imbued with the ethos of old-time shitamachi, the working-class heart of the lower city.