Translated by GonzalezLaura
Small-Town to Downtown: Kuramae to Asakusa
Written by Misaki Tachibana
Right next door to Asakusa's busy streets is a little taste of small town. Let's take a walk from Kuramae to Asakusa!
The area known as "downtown" does not have very clear-cut boundaries. What's known as downtown now, (which includes Sumida ward, Arakawa ward, Daito ward, and Katsushika ward) used to be the towns surrounding the castles the shoguns (Japanese generals) lived in.
There are a lot of renown tourist spots in downtown, but simply going from one tourist spot to the next is, well, a little boring. You came all the way here, might as well walk around and explore a bit.
From Kuramae, Brimming with Locals, to Asakusa
For starters, try walking from Kuramae station, where the Asakusa Line and the Toei Oedo Line meet, towards Asakusa on Edodoori (Edo street).
After exiting the subway and coming out onto the surface, you can already hear ohayashi, which is music often played during Japanese festivals. The locals are walking around carrying the omikoshi, or portable Shinto shrine, on their shoulders. That's not to say that there are non-stop festivals here, but if you're lucky, you might just run into one.
The majority of people walking along the designated route, stretching from Kuramae station to Asakusa, were locals.
Here and there you can spot some shops and office buildings that haven't changed their exterior from days long past.
This store, "Kakimori", specializes in stationary. You can peer into the workshop from the window facing the street. They can make original notebooks with paper and book covers using customized designs. You should check this store out when going to Kuramae station.
If you get away from the main road, the atmosphere is more like a quiet residential area. Edo street is a main street, and therefore has quite a bit of traffic. But, if you dare to veer off into the road not (typically) taken, you might come across some interesting scenery.
Just a Little Bit More, Once You See It
As you're stopping here and there along the way, you can look up and see the "Tokyo Sky Tree" peeking out between the buildings.
Stroll along for about 30 minutes from Kuramae station and you can start to see the "Sky Tree". And once you do, that's proof that you're drawing closer to Asakusa.
There'll be a green bridge, called Umayabashi, to the right off of Edo street.
The Sumida river flows underneath the green Umayabashi bridge. "Yakatabune", or Japanese houseboats, have trafficked and supported this area for however many hundreds of years.
A yakatabune could be seen gently making its way on the river; and on it, there was someone reading, while on the inside, there were even some individuals practicing a staged sword fight. If you keep walking down the road, you'll eventually arrive at Asakusa.
Marching onward along the riverside road, once you go up a set of stairs, you will come out to the Asakusa crossing. You can feel the difference when you compare the Asakusa streets, bustling with men and women of all ages going about, with the relatively quiet streets of Kuramae. Same downtown, but you can start to see the difference in the tastes of the residents and visitors of these two adjacent neighborhoods.
If you're looking for a more natural, relaxed sort of downtown, Kuramae would be the place. On the other hand, if you're looking to enjoy some entertainment, Asakusa's where it's at. Both are within walking distance of each other. So, if you have time to spare, definitely check out both Asakusa and Kuramae, taking in the different shades of this area known as downtown.
Access: Toei Oedo Line and Toei Asakusa Line, Kuramae Station