Guest writer: IIvan#0001
Not many cities can claim to have as many different activities and sights to see as Tokyo can. While we’ve already covered Akihabara and Shinjuku, which are both similar in regards to the types of sights to see, Asakusa offers something completely different. Take a step back through time and explore historical buildings, ancient traditions, and how Asakusa blends this with the modern day.
Asakusa is a district within the Taitō ward of Tokyo that is most well known for the Buddhist Temple, Sensō-ji, that was built in the 7th century. During the Edo Period (1603-1867), Asakusa began to grow in popularity as wealthy nearby merchants began to invest in different forms of entertainment. At the time, this mostly meant theaters and red light districts but over time began to include movie theaters and a variety of shops. While the area continued to flourish through the early 1900’s, large parts of it were destroyed in the air raids from World War Two. Though it has been rebuilt, many of the entertainment districts did not return and instead the area now serves as a glimpse into the past.
Getting to Asakusa is fairly simple. Asakusa station is on Tokyo Metro’s Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line and Tobu Skytree line. From Tokyo Station, you can expect the trip to take around 20 minutes (Take the JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station then transfer to the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line for Asakusa). Once you’ve arrived, you can easily walk around Asakusa but there are some alternatives, such as a guided tour on a “rickshaw”, that costs around 9000 Yen (83 USD). While it may not be exactly part of Asakusa, the Tokyo Skytree is just a 20 minute walk across the Sumida River so if you haven’t yet been there, Asakusa makes for a great pass-through point!
Places Of Interest
This long street has both amazing street food and awesome souvenirs for you to explore. Keep in mind that this location is very popular and the street is only around 12 feet across so it can become a little claustrophobic. While some of the food has taken on a modern twist, many of the street vendors make sweets such as dango just like how they were made in the Edo Period. Even just watching these shops craft their sweets can be very entertaining! While the street is always open, the shops themselves are generally available between 10am and 7pm.
This Buddhist Temple, the oldest in Tokyo, is the main attraction at Asakusa. Not only can you enjoy the architecture, but you can also have your fortune read (only 100 Yen). This single temple isn’t the only one in the vicinity. If you continue walking around it, you’ll find several more shrines as well as places where you can heal your spirit. If you’re lucky enough to arrive on the Buddha’s birthday, you’ll be greeted with a flower festival that’ll certainly leave a mark on your trip!
Have you ever been on an outdoor shopping street that’s covered in wooden flooring? Well, now’s your chance! This unique shopping center offers great food, kimonos, and other fun shops for you to explore! While the shopping center is only around 100m long, there are a total of 40 stores which help make for a busy environment. This location is only around 10 minutes away from Asakusa Station and is open from 8am to 6pm.
This park is situated right next to the river and while there isn’t much green space to sit on, there are plenty of benches for you to relax on and enjoy views of passing riverboats and the Tokyo Skytree. During cherry blossom season, this park is one of the best places to go as these trees line its entire length.
Asahi Beer Headquarters
This building is hard to miss with the giant golden flame on top of it (Though it looks more like a mustache). Even if you aren’t yet able to drink, you can travel to the top of the building (22nd floor) and enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. This building is open from 11:30am to 10pm every day of the week!
This amusement park is the oldest one in Japan and it only costs 1000 Yen to enter. While the rides themselves do cost extra (another 1000 for around 3 rides), there is plenty to see within the park itself. While the park can get very busy on the weekends, during the week it is fairly empty so try and go then if you can. This park is open from 10am to 6pm.
Have you ever wanted to eat amazing food while also experiencing beautiful views of Tokyo? Well now you can with the riverboats available in Asakusa. There are a variety of meal plans for you to choose from (some of which include all you can eat) so you should be able to find something that you will enjoy. You will have to make a reservation to ride this boat and specify what type of meal plan you want in that reservation. You can expect to spend anywhere between 7000 and 10000 Yen (65-100 USD).
Asakusa is definitely a place that you should take the time to explore. While it might be difficult to make this a full day trip, it’s proximity to many other popular places within Tokyo makes it a great spot to travel through. The beautiful views of the city, the peek into Japan’s past, and the traditional foods are sure to make this a memorable experience.