Visiting Asakusa 浅草

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  • One of the most popular places to visit in Tokyo is Asakusa, step into a different time with the historic Sensoji temple and enjoy traditional sweets and food on Nakamise Shopping Street.

    children in front of Hōzōmon gate - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    As we are getting close to the end of the Tokyo Travel Series, we’ll cover Asakusa in this post.  We actually shared our family’s visit to Asakusa a few years ago and it’s about time for an update.  If you are interested in the rest of our Tokyo series, the link to the travel guides are below.

    1. Shinjuku 新宿
    2. Meiji Jingu 明治神宮
    3. Harajuku and Omotesando 原宿・表参道
    4. Shibuya 渋谷
    5. Roppongi 六本木ヒルズ
    6. Tokyo Tower (update) 東京タワー
    7. Ginza 銀座
    8. Imperial East Garden 皇居東御苑
    9. Akihabara 秋葉原
    10. Ueno 上野
    11. Kappabshi かっぱ橋道具街
    12. Tokyo Dome City 東京ドームシティー
    13. Asakusa (update) 浅草
    14. Tokyo Sky Tree (update) 東京スカイツリー
    15. Odaiba お台場

    How to Get to Asakusa?

    Asakusa is located in the northeast corner of Tokyo and you can get to Asakusa Station via both the Ginza line and Asakusa line.  Once you get there, it’s just a short walk to Nakamise Shopping Street and Sensoji, the oldest temple in Tokyo.

    Google Maps Asakusa
    Click to enlarge map.
    map of Asakusa - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Map of Asakusa

    Exploring Asakusa 浅草

    Asakusa is one of the most popular places for visitors to Tokyo with over 30 million visitors a year.  Images of Kaminarimon Gate (雷門) appears frequently in media and tv shows about Japan and Tokyo.  For this posts, we’ll cover the shopping streets and restaurants in Asakusa area, Nakamise Shopping Street (仲見世商店街), Sensoji Temple (浅草寺), and fun activities for the entire family to do nearby.

    If you’re not sure where you go, you can stop by the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center (浅草文化観光センター).  There’s an observation deck on the top floor where you can take in the view of the area.

    Asakusa cultural tourist information center - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Asakusa cultural tourist information center - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Rickshaw waiting for customers - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Rickshaw rides waiting for customers.

    When you pass Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center and cross Kaminarimon Street, you’ll see Kaminarimon Gate (雷門).  Don’t go through just yet, head to the left and you’ll discover many restaurants and shops.

    Kaminarimon Gate - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Kaminarimon Gate 雷門
    child at Kaminarimon Gate - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Our daughter in 2014.

    As you explore the street and shops just west of Kaminarimon Gate, there a variety of famous shops there that sells Japanese pastries like taiyaki and melon pan, and some unique souvenirs.

    Naruto Taiyaki Shop - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Naruto Taiyaki Honpo Asakusa

    sign outside Naruto Taiyaki Shop explaining what's Taiyaki - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    samurai sword shaped umbrella - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Samurai sword-shaped umbrella.

    shopping street in Asakusa with Tokyo Skytree in the background - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    child in front of popular melon pan shop - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Melon pan shop.

    Besides shops and snack stalls, there are plenty of restaurant choices to explore as well.

    children in small shopping street in Asakusa - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Masaru ten-don restaurant - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Masaru Ten-don restaurant.

    Head back towards Kaminarimon Gate (雷門) and Nakamise Shopping Street (仲見世商店街) when you’re done browsing.

    Nakamise Shopping Street (仲見世商店街)

    Nakamise Shopping Street or Nakamise Dori is the main approach to Sensoji Temple, there are about 90 shops sell traditional Japanese snacks and souvenirs.  Just a word of caution, it could get really crowded so be careful if you have little ones.

    Nakamise Dori - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Nakamise Shopping Street

    vendors selling souvenir on Nakamise Dori - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Traditional Japanese Food on Nakamise Dori

    As you walk along Nakamise Dori, you will notice many shops sell traditional Japanese sweets and snacks and some of them are made right there.  The sweets include dango (団子), ningyoyaki (人形焼), yokan (ようかん), and candies.

    odango shop on Nakamise Dori - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Odango shop.
    lady making odango dipped in kinako on Nakamise Dori - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Odango dipped in kinako (soy bean flour)

    On Nakamise Shopping Street and nearby area, you will find many shops that sell Ningyo yaki (人形焼).  It’s a sweet cake with red bean inside and comes in many different shapes.  On the street, there are a few shops where artisans are making the cakes right there in the shop by hand.  It’s quite fun to watch.  Other shops had machines that made them and it’s similarly entertaining to see each of the red bean cakes being formed and packaged.

    pastry artisans making Ningyōyaki - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Ningyo yaki being made the traditional way by hand.

    man making Ningyōyaki by hand - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Ningyōyaki machine - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Ningyo yaki being made by machines.

    Ningyōyaki machine - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    traditional Japanese sweets on Nakamise Dori - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Yokan shop.

    Besides the sweets, there are shops that sell traditional rice crackers – Senbei (煎餅).

    vendors selling food on Nakamise Dori - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Each year on July 9 and 10th, Asakusa hosts Hozuki Ichi – Japanese lantern flower market.  We happened to be there at the time and many vendors selling hozuki flower (Japanese lantern).  Hozuki are used to guide the souls of the deceased family members during obon (お盆).

    Hozuki Flower - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    vendors selling Hozuki Flower - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Sensoji 浅草寺

    After you pass through Nakamise-dōri, you see the red gate, Hozomon (宝蔵門).  Here, you can walk up to the burning incense and wave the smoke towards the part of your body you want to be blessed.

    Hōzōmon gate - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Hozomon (宝蔵門)
    Sensō-ji temple - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Senso-ji temple 浅草寺

    Before entering the main temple, make sure to rinse (or “purify”) your hands and mouth first.  The proper way is

    1. Hold the ladle with your right hand and rinse your left hand
    2. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse the right hand
    3. Hand the ladle back to your right hand one more time and pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth (do not drink from the ladle).
    4. Hold the ladle straight up, let the rest of water run down the wooden handle to purify, and put it back.

    sign explaining how to clean hands at omizuya near Sensoji - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    child cleaning hands at omizuya near Sensoji - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Don’t cleanse inside the fountain.

    Kannondo Hall (観音堂)

    As you arrive in the main hall, Kannondo Hall (観音堂), the god Kannon sits at the center surrounded by other gods.  After you are done praying, you can get a Omikuji (おみくじ), and read your fortune.  In the Japanese tradition, if you get a bad fortune (凶), roll up the paper and tie it up on the rack nearby.  Pray to the bad fortune and hope the gods will protect you from harm.  Looking back at the entrance from the main hall, you’ll see the grand five story pagoda (五重塔) easily spotted from nearby areas.

    Kannon altar inside Sensoji temple - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

     

    Sensō-ji Pagoda - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Senso-ji Pagoda 浅草寺 五重塔

    During the summer, Japan has many festivals and there were many festival food vendors serving various Japanese street food nearby the temple.

    summer festival food stall vendor selling takoyaki - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Takoyaki stand
    summer festival food stall vendor selling jiaga potatoes - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Jagabata (potato and butter) stand
    summer festival food stall vendor selling meat skewers - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Meat skewers stand.

    summer festival food stall vendor selling meat skewers - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Asakusa Nishi-Sando Shopping Street

    When you’re done visiting the temple, head to the west and you’ll find Asakusa Nishi-Sandō Shopping Street.  If you have little ones, there are some traditional games they can play there including dart and catching gold fish.

    Asakusa Nishi-sandō Shopping Street - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Asakusa Kagetudo shop - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Kagetsudo food shop.
    Asakusa Kagetudo dart game shop - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Dart game store.

    At the catching goldfish store, you’re given a net made of paper and the goal is to catch as many goldfish as possible before the paper breaks.  You can either take the goldfish home or exchange them for prizes.

    Asakusa Kagetudo gold fish game shop - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Catching goldfish store.

    Asakusa Kagetudo gold fish game shop - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Asakusa Kagetudo gold fish game shop - Tokyo Asakusa Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    It was a really hot day when we visited Asakusa but our family still had a fun time.  We actually went to Tokyo Skytree to eat some delicious sushi during the middle of our visit.  More on that in the next post and we’ll share the Tokyo Cruise ride to Odaiba soon.

    As always, thank you for reading the Asakusa travel guide and we hope you find it helpful.  If you are interested our other Tokyo adventures, check out the posts below.  See you soon at Tokyo Skytree.

    1. Shinjuku 新宿
    2. Meiji Jingu 明治神宮
    3. Harajuku and Omotesando 原宿・表参道
    4. Shibuya 渋谷
    5. Roppongi 六本木ヒルズ
    6. Tokyo Tower (update) 東京タワー
    7. Ginza 銀座
    8. Imperial East Garden 皇居東御苑
    9. Akihabara 秋葉原
    10. Ueno 上野
    11. Kappabshi かっぱ橋道具街
    12. Tokyo Dome City 東京ドームシティー
    13. Asakusa (update) 浅草
    14. Tokyo Sky Tree (update) 東京スカイツリー
    15. Odaiba お台場

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