Asakusa Guide, Japan

Greasers dancing in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

 Nakamise shopping street leading to Sensoji temple, Asakusa’s biggest attraction. This viewpoint is from the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center’s free eighth floor observatory. The building offers many facilities including a tourist information desk, free wifi connectivity and a café.

Asakusa Attractions

Nakamise dori (street)

Kaminarimon gate, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Kaminarimon, a huge, 1,000 year-old gateway to Nakamise street and ultimately Sensoji Temple.

Kaminarimon, Kaminari Gate is always open.

Entry to Nakamise and all temples or shrines in this area are free of charge.

Sensoji (ji means temple) is open 6.0 am to 5 pm. Asakusa Shrine is always open.

Dempoin Temple, next to Senso-ji is not open to the public.

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center is open daily 9:0 am to 8:0 pm; the observation area until 10:0 pm.

Nakamise street stalls Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Nakamise street has been the main street to Sensoji temple for hundreds of years and  selling temple visitors snacks, drinks and souvenirs for most of that time.

Nakamise street, visitors wearing kimonos, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Nakamise street, visitors wearing kimonos, probably rentals, a recent tradition in Asakusa. The girls may be Japanese, or Chinese, or even westerners renting the easy-wear kimonos, as opposed to the usual kimono that requires knowledge, time and usually an assistant to put the hideously complex garb on.

Processions

A Dragon parade to Sensoji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

A Dragon parade down to Sensoji temple in Asakusa. I just stumbled across it, exactly as I did the previous time I was there, years before. Like Meiji Jingu and Yasukuni shrine, events and celebrations take place frequently so the chance of a tourist seeing some kind of colourful activity on any random day and time is quite good.

Geisha band on a float in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

A Geisha band on a float  following the Dragon procession.

Sensoji temple

Prayer donation at Sensoji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

A small donation being made along – with a prayer  – at this 7th century Buddhist temple, Senso-ji. In the background the second grand gateway leading from Nakamise is visible in the background.

Fortune telling device at Sensoji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

As you can see, this is a fortune telling device found inside Senso-ji. The Japanese appear to use it, seriously or not it’s difficult to say, but it’s traditional, fun, helps support the temple that is – of course – free to enter, so have your fortune read for a mere ¥100! The instructions are a little complicated…

Part of Asakusa Shrine gardens, Tokyo, Japan

A small part of Senso-ji gardens, a beautiful, tranquil area displaying traditional Japanese garden features.

Asakusa Shrine

This Shinto place of worship is also known as Sanja-Sama, Shrine of the Three Gods. It’s dedicated to the three men who built Senso-ji and is only a minute’s walk east of the temple.  Sanja Matsuri, a festival held around the shrine on a weekend in mid-May, is one of Tokyo’s most colourful events definitely worth making an effort to see… Unless you suffer from claustrophobia as the crowds will be immense!

Old Asakusa

Harajuku station, Tokyo, Japan.

Asakusa’s old town is quite well preserved and offers tourists various old Japan experiences from kimono-wearing to drinking tea at traditional ceremonies and riding in jin-rickshaws.

Ninja and jinrickshaw, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

A Ninja (well, a model of one) and rickshaw seen in the old town.

A ninja seen in the streets of Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan.

But wait! There’s a real ninja off to do some spying, sabotage or assassination!

Ninja were stealth warriors from Japan’s 14th and 15th centuries. They used covert techniques to wage warfare and were thus considered dishonourable by the generations that respected the samurai traditions of formal fighting. More on ninjas from Wikipedia

Sumida River Cruise

Sumida river boat and the Golden Turd, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan.

The Sumida River, a river cruise boat and the Golden Turd, about 5 minute’s walk from Kaminarimon.

Actually the golden thing is supposed to be a flame. It was designed by Philippe Starcke, a French designer. Officially it’s called the  Asahi Flame (Flamme d’Or) and represents the ‘burning heart of Asahi beer’.  The building under the flame is the Asahi Super Dry Hall and the tall gold rectangle is the Asahi Beer Hall, known unaffectionately by locals as the Poo Hall. The Golden Turd nickname was also coined by locals. Nothing to do with me!

Running on both sides of the Sumida River is Sumida Park, a fine place for a stroll or cherry blossom viewing in early April or a free, massive fireworks display on the last Saturday of July.

The Tokyo Water Bus company operates downriver sightseeing boats with English commentary every half an hour or hour from Asakusa Pier.

Getting There

• By Subway: Ginza Line, Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Railways.

• By water: Tokyo Water Bus.

• Overground from  Tokyo Station:  JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station, transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa.

• Overground from Shinjuku Station: JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station, transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa.