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Nakamise Shopping Street: 200 years old and still vibrant!



2022.06.23 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

Come with us today as we explore Nakamise Shopping Street in Asakusa, one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan, and famous even overseas as a tourist destination! Nakamise is one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan, and has been rebuilt and repaired several times due to political change, natural disasters, and war.

First established in the Edo period, it continues to enjoy popularity even today. Now, 89 shops decorate the 250 meter approach to Sensoji Temple in Taito City, Tokyo, many of which are operated by 3rd and 4th generation families, and even one by the 9th generation! After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and its collapse, it was transformed into the current red-painted shopping street.

Visitors can explore shops selling snacks to be eaten on the spot or taken home to enjoy later, as well as shops selling small items that can be used as souvenirs.

Bean lovers will enjoy Bairindo, a traditional bean confectionery shop making sweets from sweet red bean paste. Experience the nostalgic tastes at Azuma as you enjoy small kibi dango, a simple sweet made by forming soft mochi into flat round cakes.
Note: Walking while eating is considered taboo in the Nakamise Street area, (so please be cautious and courteous.)

As for souvenirs, ukiyo-e style postcards can be found at Sakai Kokodo Yamafuji. These are great as decorations or gifts. You can find traditional Japanese umbrellas with motifs such as flowers, cherry blossoms, ukiyo-e, landscapes, animals, and even youkai, or supernatural entities and spirits from Japanese folklore at Nishijima Shoten, which has been selling fashionable and beautiful umbrellas since 1918!

Visitors will find other goods that are both decorative and practical, such as charming chopsticks at Yuzen Morita, and fantastic folding fans at Arai Bunsendo!

And to enjoy another hidden charm of Nakamise Street, visit when the shops are closed, such as on your way to an early morning visit to Sensoji Temple, you can enjoy colorful artwork on the shops’ closed shutters!

Nakamise Street is easily accessible. It’s only a short, 3-minute walk from Asakusa Station. In addition to Sensoji Temple, visitors can also enjoy TOKYO SKYTREE which is only a 3-minute train ride from Asakusa Station.

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