Asakusa, Tokyo 浅草
Kaminari Gate, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo
Asakusa is also one place in Tokyo where you can take a traditional rickshaw ride. Rickshaws are available in front of the temple, where you are pleasantly trundled around the neighborhood in an antique-looking, huge-wheeled vehicle by a young, muscular, bare-legged Japanese man wearing traditional shorts, happi coat and headband. Prices start at 3,000 yen each in the case of a couple (4,000 yen for just one passenger) for a 20-minute ride.
The Asakusa district retains something of the shitamachi ("downtown," i.e. lower class) atmosphere of old Edo and is popular with foreign backpackers, who stay in the many budget hostels located in the area.
Asakusa has a large number of theaters, cinemas, amusement arcades, pachinko parlors, bars and restaurants, which attract both Tokyoites and people commuting in to the capital on the Tobu Isesaki Line from Gunma, Saitama and Tochigi Prefectures.
Asakusa's biggest festival is the Sanja Masturi, which takes place in the third weekend in May, and includes over 100 mikoshi portable shrines, which are paraded through the local streets accompanied by geisha, lion dancers and lots of yakuza - Japanese gangsters - who are reported to control 70% of the mikoshi.
Pagoda and Main Hall of Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo
Asakusa's chief tourist draw is Sensoji Temple (popularly known as Asakusa Kannon Temple). It is the headquarters of the Sho-Kannon sect and is reputedly one of Tokyo's oldest temples, having been founded in 628.
Asakusa Guide continues below.
Further west from the Drum Museum is Kappabashi-dogu-gai, (Kappabashi Homeware Street) which among a cornucopia of Japanese kitchenware also sells plastic food replicas of the same type you see outside Japanese restaurants.
Other Asakusa attractions
Other places of interest in the area are the Hanayashiki Amusement Park, the Rock-za strip show, the Asakusa Kannon Onsen - a traditional shitamachi bath-house or sento - just north of the pagoda and the Drum Museum, which is on the fourth floor of Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten - an historic shop that sells traditional Japanese instruments and all you would ever need for a Japanese festival: mikoshi (portable shrines), happi coats, flutes and masks.
Rox Department Store at the end of Shin Nakamise has a 24 hour supermarket in the basement while the upper floors sell mainly wonen's and children's clothing.
Asakusa is busy all day every day, so to beat the crowds consider a night visit, as the temples are illuminated, though the shops are closed.
An historic place for a drink is Kamiya Bar, possibly Tokyo's oldest pub, a 3 story bar located just outside exit 3 of the Ginza Subway Line. There are plenty of other alternatives to eat and drink in the area in the side streets radiating off the temple grounds.
Asakusa can be reached on the Ginza and Toei Asakusa Subway Lines as well as the Tobu Isesaki Line. Asakusa can also be reached by the Tokyo Cruise Company's Water Bus service from Odaiba or Hamarikyu.
Visitors can take the Water Bus from Hamarikyu-teien and Hinode Pier and dock at the Azuma Bridge in Asakusa across the river from Philippe Starck's Asahi Building, in Ryogoku, with its famous "golden flame" on the roof.
Asakusa Cultural Sightseeing Center
Tobu Sightseeing Service Center
Book Hotel Accommodation in Tokyo Near Asakusa