Last Updated on 24/02/2024 by secretmoona
There are many things to do in Asakusa, a vibrant neighbourhood located in Tokyo, Japan. The area is a must-visit for travellers who want to immerse themselves in Japanese culture and tradition. Asakusa offers a unique blend of modern and old-fashioned charm, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
Asakusa is a great place to experience traditional Japanese culture. The most famous attraction in the area is the Senso-ji Temple, which is one of the oldest in Tokyo. One of the things that make the temple unique is the Kaminarimon Lantern. However, there are many other interesting attractions in Asakusa, such as the Asahi Beer Museum, Nakamise Shopping Street with its food stands, and the Tokyo Skytree. There are plenty of things to discover in this district of Tokyo. Here are some classic things you shouldn’t miss while in Asakusa!
Things to Do in Asakusa
Visit the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
As soon as you arrive in Asakusa, you should definitely make your way to the stunning Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. This impressive building offers a tourist information desk to help you plan your visit and a lovely cafe where you can relax and enjoy a drink or a snack.
However, what really makes this spot worth a visit is the breathtaking views you can enjoy from the observation deck. Located directly across from the temple, the deck offers panoramic views of Asakusa, Senso-Ji and the Nakamise Shopping Street. You’ll be able to take in the sweeping vistas of the surrounding area and appreciate the beauty of the city from a whole new perspective.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Kaminarimon 2-18-9
As you make your way towards the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, the first thing that catches your eye is the majestic Kaminarimon gate. It is a beautiful structure that has been around for over a millennium and is considered to be the symbol of the traditional Asakusa district. The gate is one of two large entrance gates that welcome visitors to the temple complex.
The Kaminarimon gate is characterised by its large hanging red lanterns, which are impossible to miss even from a distance. These lanterns are adorned with intricate Chinese characters for lightning (雷) and gate (門), adding to the gate’s beauty and significance. Additionally, the gate features statues of the Shinto gods of wind and thunder, which stand tall and imposing on either side of the entrance.
As you approach the Kaminarimon gate, you’ll notice a long queue of tourists waiting to take their pictures under the gates. With its sheer size and striking red colour, the gate is a popular spot for photography and a great way to take in the beauty of Asakusa.
After taking in the splendour of Kaminarimon, you should head towards the Nakamise shopping street, which leads to the Senso-ji temple grounds. The street is lined with colourful shops selling a range of items, including traditional souvenirs and delicious street food. It is a bustling and vibrant place that is sure to add to your Asakusa experience.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-3-1
Wander in Nakamise Shopping Street
Once you pass through the Kaminarimon gate, you’ll find yourself in the bustling Nakamise Shopping Street. The street is a historic landmark and is around 250 meters in length, dotted with numerous shops selling traditional items and local specialities.
The shops along Nakamise Shopping Street offer a wide range of Japanese gift ideas, including traditional items such as yukatas and souvenirs, as well as local specialities like senbei crackers and age-manju. You can find many unique and authentic Japanese crafts and souvenirs here, such as folding fans, calligraphy sets, traditional confectionery, and much more.
Traditional Japanese sweets are among the most popular things to buy on Nakamise Shopping Street. Among them, ningyoyaki is a classic sweet that you should definitely try. It’s a soft and fluffy sponge cake filled with sweet red bean paste, and it comes in various shapes, such as doves, pagodas, paper lanterns, and thunder gods. You can also find other popular traditional sweets like senbei rice crackers, mochi rice cakes, and manju buns filled with sweet bean paste or other fillings.
Nakamise tends to get very crowded, especially during the day and weekends. If you prefer a less crowded experience, it would be best to visit early in the morning or in the evening. There are numerous small shops selling various kinds of sweets, so it would be worth your while to spend some time exploring them.
Offer your prayers at Senso-ji Temple
Once you have indulged in some scrumptious sweet treats, collected a few souvenirs and passed through the towering Hozomon Gate, you’ll be greeted by the grand and magnificent Senso-ji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. This ancient temple dates back to the 7th century and is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, Japan.
As you step into the temple grounds, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of worshippers and curious tourists, some of whom are dressed in colorful and elegant yukatas or kimonos. The temple boasts a rich history and culture, and there are plenty of things to do and see here.
One of the most popular activities is to purchase and light an incense stick at the large incense burner (joukoro) located in the centre of the temple grounds. The sweet scent of incense fills the air, creating a calming and peaceful atmosphere.
Another must-do activity is to get an omikuji, a fortune slip that predicts your future, at the entrance of the main hall. By throwing a coin into the offering box, you can make a wish and receive a fortune slip with a message that can range from very good luck to bad luck. It’s a fun and exciting experience that visitors of all ages can enjoy.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the temple’s ambiance, I recommend visiting during the day and evening when the shops at Nakamise have closed. This way, you can witness how the temple transforms at different times of the day. The atmosphere is serene and tranquil, providing a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Enjoy Asakusa’s street food
Asakusa is a neighbourhood in Tokyo that is a must-visit for food lovers. The place is full of small restaurants, street food vendors, and sweets shops that make it a mini foodie haven. From the traditional Japanese cuisine to international delicacies, Asakusa has something for everyone.
However, one thing that you may find different in Japan is that eating while walking is considered rude. This is why you will find people always looking for a bench or a place to sit and eat. So, when in Asakusa, make sure to find a comfortable spot to enjoy your food. When it comes to food, Nakamise Street is a must-visit. It is a bustling street full of shops selling traditional souvenirs, snacks, and street food. It can be overwhelming for food lovers with so many options available. But, if you are looking for a unique snack, try taiyaki. It is a delicious cake filled with sweet red bean paste made in a fish-shaped mould.
One place that you shouldn’t miss in Asakusa is Taiyaki Kobo Guraku. Here, you can make your own taiyaki, instead of buying ready-made ones. They offer a variety of fillings, including custard and matcha, and toppings of your choice. To make your taiyaki, you need to pour the pancake-like batter into the mould, add the filling quickly, and after two minutes, your taiyaki is ready to enjoy.
Asakusa from a different angle with Sumida Cruise
Sumida Park is a beautiful riverside park that runs along both sides of the Sumida River. It’s a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing during springtime, but it’s also a peaceful and quiet area perfect for taking relaxing walks or running.
If you’re looking to enjoy a boat ride, you can visit the Asakusa Pier and hop on a Tokyo Water Cruise. The cruise will take you from Asakusa, passing through the Hama Rikyu Garden and eventually reaching Hinode Pier, where you can transfer to Odaiba. You’ll have the option to choose from various boats, from traditional to futuristic.
Get the perfect view from Tokyo Skytree
The district of Asakusa offers a fascinating blend of old and new, with Senso-ji temple, one of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks, on one side and the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in Tokyo, on the other. The contrast between the traditional architecture of the temple and the sleek, modern design of the Skytree is truly remarkable. The Tokyo Skytree, which is just a few minutes walk from the temple, offers an unparalleled panoramic view of the city. On a clear day, you can see as far as Mt. Fuji, which is over 100 kilometres away! The observation decks, located at 350 meters and 450 meters, offer a breathtaking vista of Tokyo’s skyline, with all its towering skyscrapers and bustling streets. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Tokyo or a seasoned traveller, a visit to Asakusa and the Tokyo Skytree is an absolute must.
Address: Tokyo, Asakusa, Sumida 1-1-2
Shop at Don. Quijote
Don Quijote is a popular souvenir shop in Japan that sells a wide range of products, including beauty products, kitchen appliances, electronics, sweets, and more. However, the store aisles can be difficult to navigate since the items are not displayed in a coherent manner. Although the products sold there might be a little pricey for their quality, visiting the store can still be a unique and interesting experience.
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-10-14
Ride a rickshaw, also known as Jinrikisha
As you walk along the narrow streets, you’ll notice young men pulling a cart using only the strength of their bodies. This traditional method of transportation is called jinrikisha and was commonly used in the olden days. Nowadays, it has become a popular tourist attraction enjoyed by visitors wearing yukatas. The men pulling the carts are also dressed in traditional attire, including jika-tabi (shoes with a separation between the big toe and the other toes) and a cone-shaped hat.
Riding a jinrikisha is one of the best ways to explore the district and learn about its history. Most of the drivers are either locals or have extensive knowledge of Asakusa, making it easier for them to show you the area’s hidden gems.
A 30-minute ride costs around 9000 yen for two people. Shorter or longer rides are also available.
Wander the backstreets and alleys of Asakusa
If you step off the main streets, you’ll find yourself in a different world. Small alleys decorated with colourful flowers and plants are home to unique restaurants and bars. Walking through these alleys, you can strike up a conversation with people, learn a bit about your table neighbours, and get a feel for the local culture.
Just off Senso-ji Temple is a street called “Hoppy Dori”, where people enjoy drinks and snacks. If you’re interested in food tours, you can join the Asakusa Bar Hopping Food Tour. The Asakusa Cultural & Street Food Walking Tour, also by Magical Trip, is an excellent way to discover the many establishments with a local guide.
Since these shops are located in narrow alleyways, you might not notice them unless you’re looking for them.
Kappabashi Shopping Street
Kappabashi Street is situated between Asakusa and Ueno. As you approach the street, you first notice the towering statue of a chef. The street is home to various shops that sell traditional kitchenware. While these shops primarily cater to restaurant businesses, you can find a wide range of kitchen utensils, traditional bento boxes, ceramic and lacquerware, Japanese chefs’ knives, and even plastic sample food. This is an excellent location to find unique and useful souvenirs for your friends and family.
How to get to Asakusa
Asakusa is a convenient location to stay, as it can be easily accessed by underground and JR stations. Additionally, it provides direct access to both Narita and Haneda airports. Asakusa Station is served by the Asakusa and Ginza lines, as well as the Tsukuba Express and Tobu Railways. You can also reach Asakusa via the Tokyo Water Bus from Odaiba. Moreover, Asakusa is an ideal location to start your day trips to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Nikko or Kawagoe.
Where to stay in Asakusa
Asakusa is a popular tourist destination with a wide range of hotels available, from capsule hotels to luxury accommodations.
Hostels and capsule hotels
- MyCUBE by MyStays Asakusa – modern & stylish hotel. Perfect for a solo traveller
- Sakura Hotel – popular chain with friendly staff and activities for guests
- Nui. Hostel & Bar Lounge – clean and stylish hostel
- Wired Hotel Asakusa -Kuramae – cool designer hotel
- APA Hotel Asakusa-Kuramae – good hotel with views over Skytree
- Hotel MYStays Asakusa – very comfortable hotel with a kitchenette
- Ryokan Mikawaya Asakusa Honten – Experience Japanese ryokan with full Japanese hospitality and tatami rooms.
There are countless attractions to explore in Asakusa, and the ones mentioned here are just a few of them. If you have any queries or recommendations, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. I hope you found this guide helpful.
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Travel Tips and Resources
Here are some of my favourite travel tips and resources.
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- Tours and Experiences: Visiting a new place also means getting to experience and do many things. I usually book tours via GetYourGuide or TripAdvisor. If you like doing things solo, WeGoTrip offers audio tours and excursions.
- Travel Insurance: Travelling without proper travel insurance is not recommended. I always travel with one. Use VisitorsCoverage to compare and get the best travel insurance policy for you.