There are two places in Tokyo named after valleys favored by the melodious uguisu (Japanese bush warbler): Uguisudani Station on the Yamanote Line, and Uguisudanicho, a small neighborhood wedged between Daikanyama, Ebisu and Shibuya. On a day of early winter blue skies, I wing off to explore the latter.

I land briefly at Yamadaya Manju Gen, a purveyor of delicate bean-paste treats originating from Ehime Prefecture. Shop manager Masahiro Norimatsu, 39, tells me that Yamadaya Manju's diminutive buns have kept the company in business since 1867.

"The ingredients are quite simple, just sugar, beans and wheat," Norimatsu says, "But we use a large-crystal sugar, a melt-in-your-mouth smooth koshian bean paste and a covering that is exceptionally thin."