Taito has three of the most famous old downtown “shitamachi” areas in Tokyo: Asakusa, Ueno, and Yanaka. Some of Old Tokyo has managed to survive here. There are historic and traditional places, including a large number of shrines and temples. Visit Japanese shopping streets and old specialty shops. Some of them have a delightful retro feel. This is an excellent area of Tokyo to experience Japanese culture. Try traditional foods, and have fun at local festivals.
Asakusa is the district around Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine. Many streets here are Japanese “shotengai”, shopping streets with lots of small shops. Asakusa has always attracted many visitors, who come not only to visit temples and shrines but also to see performances such as “kabuki” theater, “manzai” comedy, and “rakugo” storytelling. It gets crowded during the Sanja Matsuri, the Sumida River Fireworks, and the Asakusa Samba Carnival. Make sure to check the calendar for the many local festivals and events taking place each year. You can explore on foot, take a rickshaw ride, or watch the city from a boat on Sumida River. Restaurants, bars, and cafés offer a great variety of Japanese food.
At the heart of the Ueno district is Ueno Park. During the cherry blossom season this is the most popular spot in Tokyo for a “hanami” picnic. Anytime of year Ueno Park is an excellent place for cultural activities. You can visit some of Japan’s finest museums here, including the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, and the National Museum of Western Art. Exhibits include many National Treasures of Japan. Ueno Zoo was the first zoo to open in Japan. Near Ueno station you have a lot of options for shopping, eating, and drinking. Busy Ameyoko street market is located between Ueno and Okachimachi station and further along the train tracks is the 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan shopping street. Taking a Shinkansen train from Ueno you can easily add a side trip to other regions of Japan to your trip.
A visit to Yanaka is a trip back in time. This is one of the few old areas in Tokyo that have not been destroyed by fire, earthquakes, or development. Many Japanese visitors come for the atmosphere here with its retro feel. Visit small craft shops, galleries, and local museums. Try some old-fashioned snacks in the Yanaka Ginza shopping street and have a coffee or meal in one of the old houses. Explore the narrow streets. Besides shops and restaurants, a great number of local temples and shrines can be found here. Yanaka Cemetery is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom time in spring. It is located next to Nippori station on the JR Yamanote line.