Tokyo is a huge metropolis with many different neighborhoods. Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s famous old downtown “shitamachi” areas located on the east side of the city. This is a good place to experience Japanese culture and cuisine. There is also a good variety of accommodation in the area, including hotels, hostels, and Japanese-style Ryokan. And also hundreds of restaurants, Japanese-style izakaya bars, cafés, and sweets shops.
Asakusa is the district around Asakusa Shrine and Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple. You have probably seen pictures of its iconic red Kaminarimon Gate with its big lantern. It is one of the most photographed places in Japan. The Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center is located in front of Kaminarimon Gate. From the top you have a very good view of Senso-ji Temple, Sumida River, the golden Asahi Breweries Headquarters building, and Tokyo Skytree. The staff here can help you with local recommendations and travel tips.
The Asakusa district itself is quite compact. You can explore the area on foot or take a rickshaw ride. This is the only place in Tokyo that has rickshaws and the rickshaw drivers are wonderful guides. You can also take a boat from Asakusa and go on a cruise on Sumida River and Tokyo Bay. There are sightseeing boats as well as leisurely Yakatabune cruises that offer a traditional Japanese meal while you are out on the water.
Asakusa is conveniently located for exploring many places in Tokyo and airport access for both Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport is easy, both by train and limousine shuttle bus.
Sights nearby. Tokyo Skytree is just one station away on the Tobu Skytree Line (3 min.). Take pictures of Tokyo’s landmark from Sumida Park in Asakusa and visit the top of the tower for the best view of the sprawling city. Ueno, home to some of the best museums in Japan including the Tokyo National Museum, is just 5 minutes away on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line. The Tsukuba Express train from Asakusa to Akihabara (5 min.) takes you to the area famous for electronic stores and otaku goods. And to shop for Japanese crafts, browse the many small shops in Asakusa and walk over to Kappabashi Street, Tokyo’s Kitchen Town where you can buy every kind of utensil, kitchen tool, and tableware.
For a side trip from Tokyo, go to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen. Nikko has World Heritage shrines and temples, beautiful scenery, and excellent hiking in its National Park. You can take the train to Nikko directly from the Asakusa Tobu Station. Tobu Railway offers special tickets for excursions to Nikko and at the station there is an information center that will help you with planning and reservations.