Visiting Asakusa in Tokyo

Nakamisedori, Asakusa Tokyo

Guide to Asakusa

If you are one of those lucky people visiting Tokyo, chances are that you want to spend some time exploring Asakusa, “lower town” of Tokyo. Located in Tai To District along the Sumida River, Asakusa is easily accessible by taking Asakusa or Ginza Subway Line.

Asakusa is home to Sensoji, the oldest temple in Tokyo as well as crafts and shops that have an Edo era nostalgia. The area was a settled by craftsman and working class families who added charm and vitality to Asakusa with old traditions and unpretentious food.

Wearing Kimonos in Asakusa

Enjoy rickshaw ride, river cruise dinner or rent a kimono and stroll around the temple. This is also a great place to shop for gifts for friends and family before you head back home. There is an energy to Asakusa that you can not experience elsewhere in Japan.

Day visit to Asakusa is included in our Art and Culture Tour to Japan (Spring of 2019) as well as in upcoming Textile Tour (coming soon).

River Cruise Boat in Tokyo

Asakusa Highlights

Asakusa Temple (浅草寺)
It is believed to be the oldest temple in Tokyo it was built in 628 and features a Gojyuto “five- story tower”, Kaminarimon “thunder gate” and Nakamisedori, “beautiful approach to the temple”. Make sure to apply incense smoke to your body as it is said to cure illness.

Nakamisedori (仲見世通り)
Nakamisedori is a 250 meter walk from the Kaminari Gate to the temple. There are over 90 shops lines the approach selling Asakusa speciality such as Ningyo Yaki (doll-shaped pound cake stuffed with red beans, cooked in front of you) and other treats and souvenirs. Kimuraya Shop is the oldest store selling Ningyo Yaki since 1868.

Ekimise (駅店)
A department store located above the Asakusa Station. The basement is filled with shops selling regional foods. delicacies, sake and beer. They also carry electronics, clothing, stationery and books. A great place to wander around before you ending your journey to Japan.

Asakusa Cultural Tourism Center (浅草文化ツーリズムセンター)
Conveniently located across the street from Kaminari Gate. This tourism center should be able to help you with any questions you might have around Asakusa. From the viewing deck on the 8th floor, you be able to see the Tokyo Skytree as well as Namamisedori.

Taiyaki

Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)
Asakusa is known for casual everyday food and Okonomiyaki is not to be missed when visiting Asakusa. At restaurants specializing in these “as you like” savory cabbage pancakes you’ll be able to make your own on a hot griddle at your table.. You can also enjoy this delicious street food at home. Here is the recipe from your food blog.

Kappabashi (かっぱ橋)
Located between Asakusa and Ueno is Kappabashi or “Kitchen Town”. This entire district features over 170 shops selling cooking supplies, knives, dishes and almost everything you need for starting and operating a food business. Kappabashi is only 10 minutes walk from Asakusa and totally worth a visit.

Visiting Tsukiji Fish Market

The last week of October, I spent about three days in Tokyo meeting restaurant owners, going to cooking schools  and checking out ramen shops. I spent the last day of my trip  hanging out at Tsukiji – the world’s largest fish market. The day I visited Tsukiji, it was unusually warm, pleasant and sunny.  I found myself relaxed and carefree as I strolled through the market admiring the shops and soaking up the spirit of the market.

 

Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market

On Monday, Tsukiji was bustling with energy, and everyone was preoccupied with their day’s business and driving their turret trucks at full speed. Tourists are everywhere.  The coolers at food stalls were filled with catches of the season such as snow crab, pike fish, squid, salmon, mackerel and shelves with green tea, seaweed, bonito flakes, miso, pickled vegetables, wasabi roots and much more.  As a matter of a fact, “Food Town” is a word used in Japanese to describe Tsukiji as one can find nearly everything you need for making  traditional Japanese food.  This is also where world class seafood auctions take place surrounded by a maze of retail shops and all kinds of restaurants.

Food at Tsukiji
Food at Tsukiji

I had a morning meeting with Mr. Noguchi who assisted me with planning a sushi workshop at near by restaurant for our guests during our tour.  I was in luck that day as Mr. Noguchi treated me to a  private, behind-the-scenes  tour of the market.  As you might know, due to its  years of heavy use and also to make way for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, Tsukiji’s inner market is moving this summer to Toyosu, a man-made island near by (if you sign up with us for our April and June trips, you might still be able to see the inner market as a group).

Fish for Sale at Tsukiji
Fish for Sale at Tsukiji

One of the must to do thing at Tsukiji is to shop and eat at one of the many restaurants serving the freshest sushi you can buy. After my meeting with Mr. Noguchi, I squeezed myself into a counter seat at very busy sushi restaurant and indulged on some of my favorites at the market; charred fally tuna, sea urchin, sardine, mackerel and salmon.

Store at Tsukiji
Store at Tsukiji

Hope to see you in Japan.

Happy Travels!

Tanpopo Studio