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Asakusa is the traditional downtown area of Tokyo and home to many internationally-known sightseeing places. From visiting ancient temples to river cruises or souvenir shopping to Michelin-starred eats, here's what you shouldn't miss out in Asakusa!
Asakusa is one of the most popular sightseeing areas in Tokyo. Despite suffering extensive damage during the Tokyo bombings that took place during the Second World War, the area was rebuilt and the preserved historical shitamachi (downtown area) of Asakusa is now one of the most visited tourist spots in the city.
Here you will find the famed Sensoji Temple and the great paper lantern of Kaminarimon, but there are dozens, if not hundreds, of incredible things to both see and do here, many of which you won't find in most guidebooks. Here are 20 classic things to do in Asakusa.
1. Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Dori - Explore Tokyo's Oldest Temple
2. Hanayashiki - Enjoy Japan's Oldest Amusement Park
3. Nishi Sando Shopping Street - A Place Like an Ukiyo-e Painting
4. Asakusa Tourist Culture Information Center - Enjoy the View!
5. Tokyo Skytree - Get the Perfect Photo of Japan's Tallest Tower
6. Sumida River Cruise - Discover Asakusa from a Different Angle
7. Improve Your Japanese Cooking with Local Classes
8. Take a Rickshaw Ride and Get to Know Asakusa More Deeply
9. Asakusa Shrine - A Shrine Beside a Temple?
10. Asakusa's Underground Shopping Center - Check Out Retro Asakusa
11. Souvenir Hunting in Asakusa - So Many Options
12. Eat Healthy and Flavorful Vegan Food
13. Munch on Michelin-Starred Rice Balls
14. Explore Kappabashi, Japan's Kitchen Town
15. Shichifukujin Pilgrimage - Set Out to Improve Your Luck
16. Asahi Super Dry Hall - Figure Out What the Golden Flame Is!
17. Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center: See Exhibits and Demonstrations of Artisan Crafts
18. Matsuchiyama Shoden - A Temple Decorated with Daikon Radishes?
19. Asakusa Barhopping Tour - Discover Nightlife
20. Oku Asakusa - Explore a Less-Crowded, Quaint Neighborhood
Picture from Sensoji Temple in Asakusa- A Complete Guide
Sensoji Temple is one of the most famous temples in Japan. It looks back on a 1,300 year-long history and is also famous for its entrance gate called Kaminarimon which stands out through its large red lantern.
Sensoji itself is not the only reason why you should visit the area. The oldest shopping street in Japan, called Nakamise Dori is located beyond Kaminarimon and leads to the temple's main hall. On Nakamise Dori you can buy traditional Japanese craft items as well as delicious snacks such as fried mochi (glutinous rice cakes).
Taking a tour of Sensoji Temple and its surroundings is very helpful in understanding and enjoying the area. Click on this link to learn details about a local tour where you can explore deep into Asakusa.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-3-1
Picture from Hanayashiki - Enjoy Asakusa's Retro Amusement Park!
Hanayashiki was founded in 1853 and is one of Japan's oldest amusement parks. It is located near Sensoji Temple and hosts about twenty-five attractions suitable for visitors of all ages.
Here, you can enjoy all the beloved amusement park attractions such as roller coasters, a merry-go-round, and a haunted house. This park surely has some old school flair and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-28-1
Take a left and a short walk from Sensoji Temple to find the picturesque Nishi Sando Shopping Street. This covered shopping street looks like something you would find in an Edo period ukiyo-e painting and is the ideal place for relaxed exploration and photos.
The floor of this market is covered in natural Japanese cypress flooring and is filled with tiny shops! Browse through everything, from souvenirs, regional ramen, to samurai swords and pick up a souvenir or treat for yourself. This is the perfect place to go if you want to do a little shopping and get a sense of Japanese history.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-7-13
While you might think that you have your route all sorted out when visiting Asakusa, you might want to reconsider your options and visit the Asakusa Tourist Culture Information Center first. This eight-story center stands right across from Kaminarimon, the entrance to Sensoji Temple, and is the place to go if you need Wi-Fi, want to see limited-time exhibits related to the area, grab a bite to eat, or get guidance and support while sightseeing in Asakusa.
The center also has an observatory on the eighth floor that is available to access for free. Although the eighth floor might not sound like much when compared to other observation decks in the city, this is the only place you can take in a clear and full sweeping view of Sensoji Temple, Kaminarimon, and Tokyo Skytree all at once. Be sure to make the visit here and experience this view for yourself.
Asakusa Tourist Culture Information Center
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Kaminarimon 2-18-9
While it goes without saying that you should definitely check out Tokyo Skytree and all its related attractions in nearby Oshiage, there is one thing that you can do to enjoy Japan's tallest tower while in Asakusa: photograph it!
There are plenty of places to take pictures of Skytree in Asakusa, and depending on what sort of shot you'd like, there are even different poses you can take on to get a selfie with the tower too. Why not get creative and see what sort of photos you can get of Skytree?
Address: Tokyo, Asakusa, Sumida 1-1-2
Sumida River flows through Asakusa, so why not take the opportunity to explore Asakusa by ship? It's a great occasion to see this historical part of Tokyo from a different angle.
Water cruises on the popular Suijo Bus between Asakusa and other areas of Tokyo such as Odaiba are very enjoyable. You can get off the ship in Hamarikyu and enjoy its beautiful gardens or at Hinode Pier, which is a popular boat trip location in Japan. Or how about going all the way to the Odaiba Seaside Park?
Picture from Adorable Vegan Sushi In Tsukiji! Cooking Local On airKitchen
Another way to heighten your Asakusa experience is through a workshop––what better of an activity to try than cooking? airKitchen offers classes in Asakusa where you can learn how to make classic Japanese from residents, from onigiri (rice balls) to sushi, ramen, and traditional sweets. Many classes support vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and Halal dietary needs, and all instructors can offer support in English.
Browse these fun and easy cooking classes to add an in-depth and delicious activity to your itinerary in Asakusa. Click below for details and make your reservation online:
Maybe you want to see all of Asakusa without having to walk too much, or perhaps you want a private guided tour of the area? Whatever your reasoning, one great and convenient option to learn all about the Asakusa area is by rickshaw.
Booking a Rickshaw Tour makes it simple to explore Japan via this traditional form of transportation when you are in Asakusa. You can choose from 30-minute, 1-hour, and two-hour tours to fit your schedule and budget. Guides can speak English.
Jidaiya, is another recommended rickshaw tour company in Asakusa. You can choose from a variety of plans for one to three people, all of which last for different lengths of time and are available in Japanese, English, and Chinese. Although it can get pricey, this is the ideal option for those who want to see it all, but don't have enough time to wander about the city.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Sumida 2-3-5
Picture from Sensoji Temple's Next Door Neighbor: Asakusa Shrine
Off to the right of Sensoji Temple, you will notice a tall torii shrine gate and long pathway - this is the entranceway to Sensoji's neighbor, Asakusa Shrine. While it might seem hard fathom at first, the relationship between Japan's native religion, Shinto, and the imported Buddhism, is very syncretic, so having these two structures side by side just seems to make sense.
Asakusa Shrine is where the two men who founded Sensoji Temple are enshrined, and is yet another peaceful spot in the complex that is said to offer blessings regarding safe travels, familial happiness, and in whatever your heart desires. Plus, here you can find an unusual, all-black omamori charm, meant to remind you that everything will be alright.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-3-1
Have you ever wondered what life was like in Japan during the postwar period? If you have, then you might want to head to Asakusa's Underground Shopping Center, easily reached from EKIMISE, a shopping center and the Tobu Asakusa Line's Asakusa Station.
This shopping center is not very well known even to the Japanese, despite having been open since 1955, but there are many great and cheap Japanese restaurants, bars, and shops catering to the busy working person here. Not only that, but the majority of them have been in business since the shopping center first opened. If you want to see a retro slice of life in Tokyo, then this is the place to go.
Underground Shopping Center
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 1-1-12
Picture from Your Go-To Asakusa Souvenir Shopping Guide!
One thing that everyone does in Asakusa is shop for souvenirs. Here, there are literally hundreds of stores selling thousands of items; everything from simple postcards to green tea snacks all the way to antique kimono and authentic samurai swords or original Japanese handicrafts can be easily found at this very station.
That being said, knowing just where to find what you are looking for can be quite the challenge. Nakamise Dori - the street in front of Sensoji Temple, EKIMISE, Rox, and of course Asakusa's Don Quijote are great places to start the search for the perfect souvenir and are sightseeing spots in their own right as well.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-10-14
Picture from THE FARM CAFE, Asakusa - Delicious And Healthy Vegan Dishes For All
THE FARM CAFE is a picturesque cafe close to Sensoji Temple, serving an entirely plant-based menu of dishes like tempura, fried soy meat, and colorful plates with lots of vegetables and whole grains. Since the cafe is small, it is best suited for small parties; if you have a larger group, try to come early or past the lunch rush.
Everything served here is handmade and filled with flavor, making it a great spot for lunch or teatime for anyone craving something nutritious and delicious. We especially recommend the soy meat rice bowl (pictured above), topped with fresh salad and drizzled in a savory sauce.
Picture from Featured In The MICHELIN Guide Tokyo 2019! Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku
Located north of Sensoji is Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku, a restaurant specializing in onigiri, or rice balls. Onigiri is one of the oldest foods in Japan and is a quintessential lunchtime food for many. Appearing in the Michelin Guide for Tokyo in 2019 and 2020, it is a highly-recommended place that anyone wanting to try simple, delicious Japanese cuisine shouldn't pass up.
Please be aware that the restaurant is small and very popular. Once ingredients run out, the restaurant closes. Try arriving as early as possible; you won't regret it!
Photo by Pixta
Kappabashi, a neighborhood in the greater Asakusa area, is known for its many vendors selling high-quality, fair-priced kitchen supplies of all types. From Japanese knives to chopsticks and dishes, there is much to see and shop for. Those looking for something practical to bring home, try the cooking and baking supplies at Mamijiya. They even have Mt. Fuji-shaped cake molds!
Another highlight of the neighborhood is the fake food replicas created in great detail. When in the area, be sure to head to Ganso Sample, a shop with hundreds of detailed dishes, ranging from ramen to sushi, to elaborate ice cream parfaits. The to-scale size of the replicas are used in restaurants in Japan--it may be more convenient for travelers to take home a smaller version of Japan's famous dishes, however.
The term Shichifukujin, or Seven Lucky Gods, refers to seven deities named Daikokuten, Ebisu, Bishamonten, Fukurokuju, Hotei, Jurojin, and Benzaiten that grant good fortune in different fields such as business, health, creativity, etc. Unfortunately, there aren’t many shrines where they are all enshrined together, so in many cases, if you want to pray for luck in several different areas, you will need to visit many different temples or shrines.
Still, it is believed that he or she who visits all seven shrines and temples where these gods dwell in the right order, will be bestowed with great fortune! This trip is often called the Shichifukujin Pilgrimage. In this photo you can see Yoshiwara Shrine, where the goddess of the arts and intelligence, Benzaiten, is enshrined. She is the only goddess among the Shichifukujin, and as a result, is also said to grant blessings regarding love and fertility.
Picture from Guide To The Asahi Building And Golden Flame In Asakusa - Tips And Access
When you come out of Asakusa Station and look towards the Sumida River and Tokyo Skytree, you may notice this strange, gold figure on top of a glittering black building.
This is the Asahi Super Dry Hall, one of the offices of the Asahi Beer Company, and a landmark in the Asakusa area. You'll likely see scores of people taking photos of this strange gold object, wondering what it actually is.
If you want to know just what it's meant to represent, take a look at this article or head to the Asahi Super Dry Hall to find out for yourself!
Asahi Super Dry Hall
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Azumabashi 1-23-1
The Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center is a facility dedicated to the artisanal crafts that flourished in Japan since the Edo period (1603-1868). The entrance is free.
Various types of crafts are displayed on two floors: from traditional kitchenware and handmade furniture to decorative objects, accessories, and daily use objects. Traditional craft items made by artisans who are currently active all around Japan are available for sale at the reception.
On weekends, local craftsmen hold demonstrations and workshops. It's a great chance to learn more about Japan's traditional crafts, including how to appreciate authentic items.
Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-22-13
Matsuchiyama Shoden is a less well known and slightly hidden Buddhist temple in Asakusa, which is said to be a temple of thanksgiving, and one that grants blessings on fulfillment in love, family harmony, business prosperity and others to its worshipers.
And, with the daikon radish as its distinctive but unusual symbol, you will be able to find daikon radish designs throughout the grounds too. Although this temple is a little bit harder to find than others in the Asakusa area, the charming pond with carp fish swimming in it and Edo period clay wall, as well as the neighborhood itself more than make it up for the hunt.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 7-4-1
Photo courtesy of Magical Trip
Many people wouldn’t think of nightlife when talking about Asakusa but a bar-hopping tour can show you just how lively this place can be after the sun goes down.
Magical Trip offers a bar-hopping tour through three little-known bars in Asakusa where you can enjoy unique local drinks and try your hand at making monjayaki, the most popular izakaya food in Asakusa. Taste Asakusa nightlife in every way possible!
Picture from Deep Asakusa - Exploring Behind Sensoji Temple
Located just north of Sensoji Temple, Oku Asakusa, or deep Asakusa, is known for its charming traditional townscape, shopping streets, and a laidback atmosphere. It is lesser-known and therefore less crowded than other places nearby. It is the ideal place for photography, finding homestyle meals, and taking a peaceful walk.
As you stroll down the streets here, look for the machiya-style shops, with long, narrow rooms that go into the back of the store, allowing owners to see when customers enter through the front door. There are also seasonal events and festivals held, like the Oiran Dochu Procession where in-period costumes are worn by parade participants. Tori no Ichi is another exciting event. Tori-no-Ichi, where local businesses gather at Otori Shrine in hopes of more
There are so many things to see, do, eat and buy in Asakusa that it might make your head spin, but if you want to get the absolute most out of a trip to this historic downtown hot spot, then consider this article to be your guide to the best that Tokyo's old shitamachi has to offer!
Main image by Pixta