With giant red lantern, rickshaws and ladies dress in kimono, visiting Asakusa is like dwelling into the old Tokyo’s past. A lovely town which somehow preserves the ambiance of the good old times, maybe for tourism purpose or just the fact that the neighborhood somehow agreed to continue the tradition instead of trying to be another fast-paced district in Tokyo.
Though it is a bit crowded during weekends, Asakusa is one of the easiest district to explore. Right outside the station, there is a Tourist Information bureau that will provide you a free map in the area and explain to you the places to visit. The area can be easily explored by foot but if you want to feel like a total tourist, a Rickshaw ride is an option. But mind you, the rickshaw here is a bit pricey compare to those in India so my suggestion is go for it only if you are exploring with kids. From the entrance itself (Kaminarimon Gate), it will definitely feel like you are on for one satisfying afternoon and an impression of similarity with the other South East Asian nation will cross your mind.
If you are planning to buy souvenir items, the 250m walk Nakamise shopping street from the gate to the Sensoji Temple will give you plenty of options. From magnetic fridge display, key chains, Japanese dolls, traditional slippers, cute kimonos for kids and variety of sweets- everything you need to give away back home is here and I think they are fairly priced. I saw a group of people lining up to one of the food stalls, I assume that whatever they are selling is something special. So, I decided to try and to my delight it is really tasty. I don’t know what its called, made up of rice cake rolled into a small circle (like bilo bilo) and dip into a mixture of peanut. It cost 300 yen for four sticks and a fresh cold green tea for 100 yen is a good complement. Seems like it’s quite popular as the stalls is decorated by photos of Japan’s TV personality who purposely visit the area to try this sweet delicacy.
At the end of the shopping street is one of Japan’s famous and oldest Buddhist temple- Sensoji Temple. With another giant red lantern welcoming you, visitors are welcome to take as many photos they like without paying any entrance fee but obviously expected to behave accordingly. I don’t know much about this religion and the exact terms on the practices they are doing (apologies for that) but you will find the usual- people washing their faces using a bucket from the fountain, standing in front of what appear to be a burning charcoal and fanning the smoke towards them and reading their fortune from Omuji. Within the area, you can visit the Asakusa Shrine, Dempoin Temple and Pagoda. Walk a bit farther then you will be in the Cosplayer paradise of Hanayashiki Street. If you dare, you can try the Space Shot ride at the mini amusement park and for more cultural learning, you can visit the Shitamachi Museum for traditional arts and crafts of Edo Period.
If food is your thing- whether you love to eat or cook then you are in the right town. Asakusa in general offers a wide range of mouth-watering snacks and food compare to other district. If you are planning to open a restaurant business or maybe just buy a few kitchen utensils, go to Kappabashi Street and you have a kilometer long of options. It is easy to find the street, just look for that building with a structure of a Chef on top of it then you are on the right track. What I like most are the shops selling fake food display of sushi, bento, ramen and beer. They look so real and yummy.
Few blocks away from Kaminamon is the Sumida Park. Here, you can see the Asahi Beer Tower with its whimsical Flamme d’Or signature style building and what appears to be the next world tallest tower – Tokyo Sky Tree, somehow conveniently aligned together to make a perfect one frame shot.