In Tokyo, there are hundreds of places to visit and things to see. Asakusa is always a recommended place to visit. It is an excellent example of modern elements and traditional blending together, from the oldest temple in Tokyo to one of the newest additions to the skyline. There really isn’t a better place to start or end your Japanese dream vacation. There is something for couples, friends, and families.
#1. Sensoji Temple
Photo Credit:Richard, enjoy my life!@flickr
One temple that makes the must-see list is Sensoji temple. There are so many reasons to visit this temple, from its rich history to its numerous shops. The original temple dates back to the 7th century and is regarded as Tokyo’s oldest and most important temple. Although the temple was destroyed during WWII, it was rebuilt shortly after.
Photo Credit:Taichiro Ueki@flickr
One interesting thing to think about is that from the remains of a destroyed tree grew into a new tree and is a symbol of peace and rebirth for the temple. When you approach the temple from the main gates, you are greeted by huge wooden statues, this is the Kaminari-mon or the Thunder Gate. This impressive structure will make the perfect photo opportunity, but don’t be surprised to find like minded individuals doing the same. At this temple, you can pull a paper fortune in multiple languages including Japanese, English and Chinese.
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Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Hours: 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Website: Sensoji Temple
#2. Nakamise Street
One of the best parts of Asakusa is the history and the second best part of Asakusa is the shopping. Nakamise street has its own history of shopping. Walking to Sensoji Temple means go through this street. Dating back to the 18th century, those residing around Sensoji establish shops. Unfortunately, you won’t find any of the original shops there. In the late 18th century, all shop owners were ordered to move out and the place was remodeled, only to be destroyed by the great Kanto earthquake, then rebuilt in 1925 only to be destroyed during WWII.
What’s left is a mixture of post-war Japan and modern souvenir shops. Stretching over a distance of only 250 meters, there is over 80 unique shops. There are freshly made senbei, taiyaki, dango, and more. If you are more interested in shopping, there are a number of different souvenir shops selling things from shirts to Japanese swords.
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Address: 1-36-3 Asakusa, Taito ward, Tokyo
Access: 3 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Website: Nakamise Street
Hanayashiki is Japan’s oldest amusement park, dating back to the mid 19th century. When Commodore Perry first came to Japan on his black ships this was a flower garden. This park was used in movies and there were many animals living in the park. Japan’s first tiger quintuplets were born at this park. Today, the park has amusement park staples like roller coasters and other rides. The haunted house or surprise house dates back to 1949. There are over 20 different attractions and eateries. The food court offers Japanese food like yakisoba and takoyaki.
This amusement park is different from others. This park offers a ninja training experience as well as a kimono and tea ceremony experience. The ninja training teaches swordplay, escape techniques, and throwing stars! There is ninja merchandise at the store. The kimono and tea ceremony experience allows participants to wear full kimonos and enjoy the subtleties of Japanese aesthetics through the famous Japanese tea ceremony.
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Address: 2-28-1 Asakusa, Taito ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
1,000 yen (Adults)
500 yen (Children)
#4. Komakata Dozeu
Photo Credit:ZoAmichi Kai@flickr
This restaurant was established in 1801, they offer food and hospitality from the Edo period. Dozue nabe or pond loach hot pot is the most popular dish at this restaurant. Pond loaches have a unique taste and the bones are hard, by using a special cooking method the bones soften and they become more edible. The pond loaches are cooked in a soy sauce based bonito soup stock with sake, and Japanese leek. Another popular dish is Yanagawa nabe. Yanagawa refers to the earthenware pot that has been used for 400 years. The head and bones are removed from the pond loaches and they are cooking with burdock root, sweetened soy sauce, and topped with eggs.
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Address: 1-7-12 Komagata, Taito ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Hours: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Website: Komakata Dozeu
#5. Jinrikisha (Rickshaw)
The word jinrikisha directly translates to human powered car. English speakers know this as a rickshaw. These rickshaws are a big part of Asakusa. In fact, this form of transportation was invented in Japan during the end of the Tokugawa period. They run along the main streets and stop at all the entrances of Sensoji Temple and even near the station. For those of you who have never experienced a Japanese rickshaw, there is no better place to try it than Asakusa. The ground is flat and it’s easy to see the sight around.
Many rickshaw drivers do cater to tourist so some of them even speak English. If you understand Japanese, you may be treated to a slightly different experience, many rickshaw drivers are first and foremost tour guides so they are well versed in the history of the area. So what you pay for is sort of a guided tour, while drawing the attention of other tourist. Make sure to try and ride one of these the next time you are in the area.
#6. Tokyo Skytree
Ranked as the tallest tower in the world, the Tokyo Skytree is another great destination to check out while you are in or around Asakusa. Even thought its a little bit farther from Asakusa compared to other items on the list, Tokyo Skytree is still with a 20 minute walking distance and you can even take a rickshaw to get there. There is a train from Asakusa Station to Oshiage Station, which is connected directly to the tower.
The tower is connected to a shopping complex known as Soramachi. This mall has many brand name stores and a large food court to satisfy any cravings be it savory or sweet. Of course the highlight would be the view from the top of the tower, but at the same time, the view from Asakusa is just as beautiful. From the top of the Tokyo Skytree you can see almost all of Tokyo and even on clear days, you can make out Mt. Fuji. Much like Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree lights up at night. This hyper modern structure is situated in the background of the traditional architecture found in Asakusa,it creates a wonderful picture. Japan truly does blend modern and traditional perfectly.
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Address: 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida ward, Tokyo
Access: Directly connected to Oshiage Station or Tokyo Skytree Station
Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Admission Fee (Observatories):
3,000 yen (Adults)
1,500 yen (Children)
Website: Tokyo Skytree
#7. Skytree Ten Don
At the restaurant Kamimura, “Tower Don” is a popular dish for people visiting the Skytree. Three large prawns are batter and deep fried then placed in the shape of a tower. There are cell phone straps that look exactly like the tempura bowl. The huge shrimp are crunchy on the outside and soft of the inside, the bowl is served wit rice, pickled veggies, and miso soup.
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Address: 1-18-13 Narihira, Sumida ward, Tokyo
2 minute walk from Tokyo Skytree Station
8 minute walk from Oshiage Station
11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM (Sundays)
#8. Samurai & Ninja Safari Bus Tour
This is a tour combining a bus tour and a street performance. These tours started in 2014 and they have been featured on a few shows overseas. The tour starts like any other, sight-seeing famous spots and the tour guides sing and rap in Japanese and English. Suddenly two costumed individuals appear, a conflict between a ninja and a samurai start. The performance is hilarious and it’s definitely a showdown. Participates can take pictures with the ninja and samurai after the performance.
Samurai & Ninja Safari Bus Tour
Hours: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
*Content is 90 minutes
4,500 yen (Adults)
4,000 yen (Children)
Website: Samurai & Ninja Safari Bus Tour (Japanese)
#9. Fake food
Fake food is a model or replica of food made from plastic or resin. Many restaurants in Japan display fake food. The first item fake food was an omelet with rice and it was made of wax. Restaurants use fake food to attract customers. The plastic fake food manufactures don’t tell anyone how anything is made, the trade has a revenue of close to a billion yen a year. Making fake food has been raised from a craft to an art form.
At the Ganso Shokuhin Sample Showroom, people can learn how to make fake food. Participates can take home the pieces they make which are two pieces of tempura and a head of lettuce. There are kits for sale to make fake food at home.
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Ganso Shokuhin Sample Showroom
Address: 3-7-6 Nishiasakusa, Taito ward, Tokyo
Access: 14 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Website: Ganso Shokuhin Sample
In spring, the cherry blossoms bloom and they last for a week or two. Before the petals fall off, people gather around the trees and have picnics. There is afternoon and night time views. Many people go to the Sumida River for a lunch time picnic.
#11. Wear a Kimono
Anyone can rental a kimono from Koto Re. Men and women can rent a kimono and wonder around Asakusa for a day. All kimonos have to be returned before 5 PM. In the summer there is yukata to rent, yukata is a summer version of a kimono. For girls, usually the hair is tied up, there is a hairstylist at the shop.
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Koto Kimono Rental Shop
Address: Daimoto bldg. 2nd floor 2-18-12 Kaminarimon, Taito ward, Tokyo
Access: 1 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Website: Koto Kimono Rental Shop
#12. Tokyo Cruise
Photo Credit:Danny Choo@flickr
Tokyo Cruise is a water bus tour of Tokyo Bay. The busses service many of the man-made islands such as Odaiba. Many busses travel on the Sumida River there is access to Asakusa and Ryogoku. Come sight-see from the rivers instead of the train.
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Address: 1-1-1 Hanakawado, Taitou ward, Tokyo
Access: 3 minute walk from Asakusa station
Hours: It varies depend on the destination
Website: Tokyo Cruise
#13. Kamiya Bar
Kamiya Bar was the first bar in Japanese history and established in 1880.
Their signature drink is Denki Bran (Electric Brandy) – a sweet blend of wine, gin and brandy. This bar is considered a legend and it is an old-western style bar.
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Address: 1-1-1 Asakusa, Taitou ward, Tokyo
Access: 2 minute walk from Asakusa station
Hours: 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Website: Kamiya Bar (Japanese)
#14. Asakusa Engei Hall
Photo Credit:sodai gomi@flickr
This is the district’s only theater dedicated to Japanese rakugo. You can enjoy a Japanese traditional entertainment show. The story teller is on stage and the only props that can be use are a paper fan and a small cloth. The story teller is sitting in seiza the whole time. The rakugo artist tells a complicated story with two or more characters and the way to differ the characters is by change in pitch, tone, and a slight head turn.
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Asakusa Engei Hall
Address: 1-43-12 Asakusa, Taitou ward, Tokyo
Access: 10 minute walk from Asakusa station
11:40 AM – 4:30 PM (First Performance)
4:40 PM – 9:00 PM (Second Performance)
Website: Asakusa Engei Hall
#15. Don Quijote
Don Quijote is popular discount chain store in Japan. There is over 160 locations in Japan and three stores in Hawaii. There is a large range of products such as electronics, groceries, and clothing. The store is usually open very late at night or 24 hours. The store is packed ceiling to floor in merchandise.
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Address: 2-10 Asakusa, Taitou ward, Tokyo
Access: 8 minute walk from Asakusa station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Website: Don Quijote