VIDEO: Exploring Japan: Hop into pop culture in Tokyo’s Asakusa

Sensoji Temple, photos by Takahira Takiguchi
Sensoji Temple, photos by Takahira Takiguchi

VIDEO: Exploring Japan: Hop into pop culture in Tokyo’s Asakusa

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Spend the day strolling around one of old Tokyo’s tourist spots, Asakusa. This area is on the left bank of Sumida River and has plenty to see so don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!

Let’s begin our pleasant Asakusa strolling at Kaminarimon, Sensoji Temple’s thunder gate. The gate is the entrance to the long, narrow Nakamise-dori, brimming with food and souvenir shops. Stop by Kimura-ya, one of the avenue’s oldest shops, for a tasty Ningyoyaki doll-shaped cake. Many of the shops here including Kimura-ya, have been run by the same families for over 150 years.

Continue your walk through Hozomon, a wooden gate known as the treasure gate, before entering the main temple grounds. You’ll notice the elaborately detailed main hall up ahead and a five-story pagoda to the left.

At the center of the walk, a huge bronze incense burner to bathe us in smoke, ward off illness and misfortune is there to make us smarter and healthier.

After making a wish at Kannon (statue of Bodhisattva of Mercy) in the main hall, pick omikuji, fortune slip, at the temple shop to test your luck. To do this, pick up a bamboo stick from a wooden container nearby and give it to a young lady in white kimono and red pants. Be sure to ask her for English-written slip, which will tell you the current condition of luck.

If you’re hungry or thirsty, the surrounding area has many izakaya bars, teahouses and restaurants you’ll definitely want to try. Keep an eye out for the various street performers, so you’ll get a meal and a show while you rest a while.

Nearby, the Azuma Bridge and Sumida Park have many cherry blossom trees which are great for hanami season. The park is also a good spot for a photo with the towering 2115-foot-high Tokyo Skytree in the background.

The 15-mile long Sumida River runs in the eastern part of Tokyo, through Asakusa flows into Tokyo Bay and it has been a symbol of unique traditional culture of Tokyo and Edo (old name of Tokyo) throughout the ages. 

From the park, we can walk through a stone-paved sidewalk, called “Sumida River Terrace” after enjoying the center town of Asakusa.

Asakusa offers a taste of Tokyo old and new. Make plans to spend the day exploring and eating your way around one of the busiest, must-see spots in Tokyo.


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