Visiting Asakusa Tokyo is Like Stepping Into Another Time Zone. It’s Tokyo’s Geisha district where Ancient Japanese culture comes to life in front of your eyes.
The area has a very traditional feel to it.
Things to Do In Asakusa
In Tokyo, very few buildings have survived the earthquakes and bombings of the last 80 years. The ones that did survive are here – in Asakusa.
So the atmosphere here is all about Japan pre-war-
Traditional shops, traditional Japanese houses, Ancient shrines, and Geisha joints.
A great way to explore Asakusa is with a tour guide who can take you through all the major attractions and help you make the most of a short trip.
See The Geisha In Kannonura Street
Kannonura Street is one of the few streets in Tokyo where you can still see Geisha in Kimonos and traditional white make-up. Geishas are traditional entertainers. If you’d like to see the Geishas perform the Japanese dance, singing, and music they were trained for, the tea-houses in Asakusa still have 45 actively working geisha (In Kyoto Geishas are more common). An evening like that costs around 20,000 yen per customer.
In any case, the Geisha area has a lovely traditional Japanese feel to it, so take a walk down Kannonura Street.
Visit The Kaminari-mon Gate
You will recognize it by the large red lantern. Kaminarimon is the first of two large entrance gates leading to Sensoji Temple. It was first built more than 1000 years ago. The original gate was destroyed in the air raids of 1945, so this is a reconstruction built in 1960.
The Tourist Information Centre (opposite Kaminarimon gate) with lots of maps and info. Opening hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm daily.
(right in front of the shrine). The custom is to tie a fortune paper to a wooden stand, which will apparently blow away the bad luck.
Sensoji Temple dates back to 645, but with the original destroyed in the air raids in 1945, today’s building is a reconstruction. At the top of the steps, it’s a ritual to clap your hands twice and bow your head. It’s also a custom to make a gift to the gods by throwing coins into the wooden box.
Asakusa Shrine is the only temple that survived the II world war bombings. The shrine’s festival, the Sanja Matsuri is the largest and most popular in Tokyo.
Hanzomon Gate marks the end of the street.
See More: Sanja Matsuri and other Tokyo Festivals
Shopping In Asakusa
Nakamise Street – A pedestrian street leading to Senso-ji Temple from the Kaminari-mon gate. The street is lined with souvenir shops and traditional Japanese food stalls. A great place to stock up on souvenirs for your friends and family.
Shin-Nakamise Shopping Street is a shopping arcade lined with shops and restaurants. Lots of shops here sell restaurant products, so it’s a good opportunity to stock up on Japanese cups and plates before going home.
Kappabashi Shopping Street has domestic kitchenware stores. Here you can buy the plastic models of traditional Japanese foods that Tokyo restaurants put in their windows.
Recommended Restaurants In Asakusa
Chinya – (left of Kaminarimon Gate) An old establishment from 1880 in a new building, serving excellent sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, and set lunches or dinners. An English-language menu is available. A good choice.
Jidaiya – (On Misuji Dori) You’ll have to bend to enter through the Edo-style front door and you’ll feel transported to Ancient Japan. The English-language menu offers kaiseki, tempura, sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, tempura and nabe. They accept credit cards.
Mugitoro – (2-2-4 Kaminarimon st, From Sensoji Temple, walk to Komagata-Bashi Bridge. Mugitoro is beside the bridge on Edo Dori st., next to a tiny temple). This restaurant specializes in tororo-imo (yam) kaiseki which is included in almost all the dishes. The lunch buffet is offered until 1 pm, includes fish or beef, yam in some form, vegetables, miso soup, and rice, and costs only ¥1,000.
- Ginza Subway Line
- Toei Asakusa Subway Line
- Tsukuba Express Line
Sumida River Cruise sightseeing ships operate every 30 to 60 minutes from the wharf – and just a five-minute walk from the temple.
They go through Hama-Rikyu Japanese Garden to Hinode Pier, where you can transfer to a ship to Odaiba.
See Also: Tokyo Subway and Subway Map