Tokyo sightseeing - 2 hours in Asakusa



2019.09.12 (Thu)

A quick visit of the highlights of this old Tokyo district

By David, long-term Tokyo resident & food-loving traveler

Start your Asakusa visit at the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center located opposite Senso-ji Temple’s famous Kaminarimon Gate. At the information desk in the lobby you can get advise for your visit to make the most of your time. Then take the elevator up to the observation deck and cafe on the top floor for some of the best and free views in the area. From here you have a great view of Senso-ji Temple and Sumida River. Across the river you can see the golden Asahi Breweries headquarters and Tokyo Skytree.

Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine are the heart of Asakusa. Begin your visit at Kaminarimon Gate and then walk through Nakamise Street. As you approach the Hozomon Gate and Main Hall, check out the many local sweets and snacks offered by the shops that line the street. As you walk you can get a taste of Asakusa - try fresh Ningyoyaki cakes shaped like the huge lantern of Kaminarimon Gate, steamed Agemanju cakes in crispy tempura batter, or freshly made Kaminari-okoshi rice crips. Keep your eyes open, there are a lot more tasty sweets and snacks on offer here.

In front of Senso-ji Temple’s Main Hall you can draw an Omikuji fortune. If it is a good luck one, take it with you. If it is a bad luck one, fold it into a thin strip and tie it to the racks next to the drawers with the Omikuji slips. This way the bad luck will not follow you. Then visit the Main Hall of Senso-ji Temple. Next visit Asakusa Shrine located on the right side of the Main Hall. If you are lucky you could see a couple getting married in a traditional Shinto ceremony here. As a souvenir from Asakusa, you can buy an Omamori charm from the temple or the shrine. There are different types for good luck in general, good health, or success at school or work.

Walk back past the bell of Senso-ji Temple and keep going through the small street in front of it that runs parallel to Nakamise Street. There are several interesting shops here that sell crafts and textiles. You will get back to Kaminarimon-dori, the street in front of Kaminarimon Gate and the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center. From here, you can take a rickshaw ride.

In Tokyo, rickshaw rides are only available in Asakusa. Tours start from a short 15 minutes to longer drives. Ask the drivers about the different routes they suggest. You can then continue sightseeing while you sit in a comfortable rickshaw seat. The drivers can show you a little bit more about Asakusa. Rickshaw drivers do not only pull you, they are knowledgeable guides. Ask them for recommendations, let them know what interests you, and enjoy the ride. The drivers can stop and take your picture, too. If you have a little bit of time left in your itinerary, let the driver drop you off near a restaurant or bar and try some Japanese dishes before you leave.

Still have a little bit more time? Have a drink at one of the popular bars in Hoppy Dori street, take a coffee break at one of the many old-fashioned Kissaten coffee stores, or shop for foods and drinks from all over Japan at Marugoto Nippon. If you also want to pick up Japanese knives, cooking utensils, or tableware, Tokyo's "Kitchen Town" Kappabashi is only 5 minutes by taxi. If your schedule allows, you can also go sightseeing in Asakusa in a kimono. Many shops that rent kimono are located near Senso-ji Temple. Allow for about 30 minutes to get dressed.

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