Tokyo’s Asakusa has a beautiful, traditional townscape that evokes an authentic atmosphere of how the city, then called Edo, looked hundreds of years ago. Simply by walking around the narrow, scenic streets, you’ll be able to dive deep into the world of Japanese history. Of course, there’s a lot more to do in Asakusa than just taking a walk. There are numerous fun ways to experience Japanese culture and lifestyle, both modern and traditional. We’ve found the area’s most representative and exciting spots to try on kimono, explore Asakusa like the Japanese of old, and try your hand at making Japan’s iconic fake food!
Japan Culture Experience Tour Yumenoya: Be a Geisha or Samurai for a Day!
Samurai, geisha, and fabulous kabuki actors are often the first images that come to mind when thinking about Japan. What about taking on one of these representative, traditional roles for yourself for a day? Japan Culture Experience Tours Yumenoya makes this possible!
The studio offers a variety of “only in Japan” experiences. Dress up in hakama and enjoy a samurai training session, slip into the beautiful garbs on a geisha and get your own photo shoot, or rent a kimono and stroll Asakusa like people did hundreds of years ago. Yumenoya is produced by a traditional Japanese dance company that boasts a history of almost 100 years, so you can be sure that the outfits and experiences are as authentic as they come.
Our special recommendation is the kabuki makeover. Experts will apply kumadori, the traditional kabuki makeup known for its chalk-white face and distinctive red markings, transforming you into an enigmatic being from Japan’s ancient world of theater.
The best way of experiencing Tokyo’s most traditional area certainly is by transforming into a piece of history for yourself. No matter whether it’s your first time in Asakusa or you’re a regular, seeing the town through the eyes of a samurai, geisha, or kabuki actor will make for unforgettable memories. There’s no need to be shy, by the way – Yumenoya welcomes as many Japanese tourists as people from abroad, so you won’t be the odd one out if you strut through the town dressed like a warrior.
For full sightseeing pleasure, why not make use of Yumenoya’s rickshaw service? Get dressed up for the occasion and take a rather unconventional tour through the traditional district!
Studio Nanairo: Japan’s Way of Taking Holiday Photos!
Another spot that offers an astonishingly beautiful first-hand experience with Japan’s traditional culture is Studio Nanairo. This almost enigmatic photo studio is just a three-minute walk away from Asakusa Station. As soon as you enter, you’ll think like you’ve fallen through a crack in time and suddenly stepped right into the Edo period. The professional make-up artists at Studio Nanairo will help to make this fantasy even more vivid as they transform you into a geisha, oiran, maiko, or samurai. There are over 200 costumes to choose from, so no matter what your style and aesthetics are, the studio is sure to have something that is right up your alley!
Readily dressed, you’ll get to enjoy Studio Nanairo’s professional photoshoot, utilizing three different and very unique studios to underline your personality and preferences. English and Chinese language support is readily available as well, so if you’re looking for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday memento, head over to Studio Nanairo.
Kamata Hakensha: Find Out How Sharp Japanese Knives Really Are!
The excellence of Japan’s knives and blades is revered all around the globe. Founded in Asakusa in 1923, Kamata Hakensha is one of the traditional shops responsible for this very reputation. The traditional techniques of blade grinding have been passed down for four generations. More than 800 individual knives fill the atmospheric shop, every single one of them a handmade masterpiece by the skilled craftsmen.
And every blade is for sale. If you choose to buy a knife sure to become a kitchen companion for life, Kamata Hakensha’s staff offers to carve your name in the blade for free, making it the only one of its kind in the entire world. The shop also sharpens the blades they sold for free, so whenever you feel like your Japanese kitchen knife is becoming dull, don’t hesitate to take it back to the store. With the proper care, your unique blade will last you a lifetime – and likely even longer.
Kurumaya: An Asakusa Rickshaw Tour Like no Other!
Sightseeing in Asakusa is a must on basically every tourist’s to-do list. No matter how informed you try to be, however, there are always more nooks and crannies to discover – and at some point, your feet will start to hurt. Why not ride a rickshaw instead?
Invented in Japan around 1869, rickshaws, or “jinrikisha,” are still a common sight all around Japan, especially in historical townscapes and around tourist hot spots. In Asakusa, they are one of the best ways to experience the city! The rickshaw shop Kurumaya doesn’t only offer the fun, traditional ride but a tour guide and photographer along with it. The drivers pulling the rickshaw are extremely knowledgeable about the area, will bring you to all the must-see spots and entertain you with background knowledge and trivia, and even take excellent snapshots of you and your rickshaw tour with your own camera or smartphone.
Choose from various courses – if you just want to get a feeling for what it’s like to ride a rickshaw, hop on the 20-minute course and explore Asakusa’s most prominent spots! For a full immersion in this wonderfully authentic experience, enjoy an 80-minute ride filled with Asakusa’s sights and secrets. Sunshade in summer, blankets in winter – no matter the season or weather, sightseeing in Asakusa by rickshaw will always make for an amazing memory!
Plus Nico: Traditional Japanese Design on Modern, Fun Umbrellas!
Japan is known for its unique, beautiful fusion between tradition and modernity. A shop called Plus Nico has taken this wonderful concept and transformed into something special! With hand- and custom-made parasols, umbrellas, and raincoats from traditional Japanese kimono fabric, you’ll be looking forward to every rainy day of the year! Every single piece is carefully made by masters of their craft, so your new umbrella friend is sure to keep you dry for years to come. Plus Nico even offers classes that let you try your hand at making your very own umbrella – a one-of-a-kind souvenir!
Next to authentically Japanese designs, choose from a variety of fabric from designers around the world. Needless to say, they are all waterproof, water-repelling, and offer UV protection!
Here’s one of the best things about Nico Plus: you can custom-order a raincoat for your dog so the two of you can sport a fancy partner look during your walks on rainy days. So take your time and browse the store to find your favorite design!
Hac Drug Asakusa Rox 3G Shop: Everything You Need for Sightseeing
While drug stores usually aren’t part of a sightseeing and experience lineup, they are nonetheless indispensable for any traveler. Hac Drug, right next Asakusa Station, offers everything you might suddenly need during your Asakusa trip. Blistering plasters for your feet, snacks, and drinks as quick and inexpensive provisions, or pain killers to combat a sudden headache – there’s no need to bring all these things with you when they’re so readily available.
On top of that, Hac Drug also offers a nice selection of cosmetics and daily necessities, so you might even be able to find a souvenir or two.
Especially the cosmetics section at this Hac Drug is richly stocked with both Japanese and international brands. Knowledgeable staff will gladly answer all your questions or give advice on which products might suit your style or type of skin best. A lot of the products can be had at discount prices, too.
The staff is able to speak Chinese and every payment can be made with Alipay.
Tsukiji Hitachiya: Explore the World of Japanese Cooking!
Tsukiji Hitachiya is a shop specializing in cooking utensils and accessories, everything handmade in Japan. As the name suggests, it was founded in 1956 in Tsukiji but also has a store in Asakusa. It can be found on the second floor of the shopping complex “Marugoto Nippon,” just a short walk away from Senso-ji Temple. Hitachiya’s selection ranges from goods and tools for professionals to fun and elegant items for personal use – and, as previously mentioned, everything handmade by Japan’s finest craftsmen.
If you’re looking to step up your cooking game, proper tools and utensils are key. Grinding sesame in a mortar, grating fresh ginger – these are the little, simple that make your cooking experience so much more satisfying. Even better if they’re both durable and visually pleasing!
Ganso Sample: Make Your Own Sample Food as a Souvenir!
While Japan has a plethora of traditional charms to offer, it can be wonderfully whacky sometimes as well. One of the country’s most fun, famous peculiarities is the food samples in front of every restaurant and eatery. It’s not a stretch to say that Japan cultivates its own food sample culture – and it is surprisingly fascinating. Ganso Sample is a shop that lets you make a first-hand experience with the artistically crafted fake food that has become so famous all around the globe!
Ganso Sample has a store in Tokyo Skytree Town “Solamachi,” so it’s a great spot to stop by after exploring Asakusa. The history of the shop’ sample food goes back an astonishing 85 years, evident in how elaborate and realistic the different dishes look despite being entirely inedible. Shop for a very unique, gourmet-tasic souvenir or even try making Japan’s famous sample food for yourself! Sometimes, the shop holds demonstrations in the process of creating certain dishes as well, in case you prefer to watch instead of getting active yourself. In any case, Japan’s sample food culture is something that you shouldn’t ignore – and why not get a little bowl of ramen as a phone strap?
Other Recommended Spots to Visit
Asakusa is filled with fun things to do and discover, both modern and traditional. Make once-in-a-lifetime experiences and snap beautiful photo mementos while riding a rickshaw, prancing around in a kimono, or making your own plate of fake food!
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