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Asakusa Must-See Spots! Top 10 Things to Do in Asakusa

Asakusa Must-See Spots! Top 10 Things to Do in Asakusa

Date published: 27 May 2020
Last updated: 11 July 2020

Home to many tourist attractions, the historical area of Asakusa is a must-see place in Tokyo that's always hustling and bustling with activity.

When it comes to sightseeing in Asakusa, most people would think of the Asakusa Sensōji Temple first, but there are actually lots of other attractions and experiences you can enjoy!

Here, we will introduce 10 things to do in Asakusa you should be sure to put on your Tokyo bucket list!

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Visit the famous Sensōji Temple Early in the Morning
  2. 2. Enjoy the Specialty Sweets Sold at Nakamise Shopping Street
  3. 3. Go Around Asakusa in a Traditional Japanese Kimono
  4. 4. Try the Richest Matcha Gelato in the World at “Suzukien x Nanaya”
  5. 5. Try Your Hand at This Traditional Japanese Technique! Make Your Own Fake Food at “Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya”
  6. 6. Explore the Streets of Asakusa on a Rickshaw!
  7. 7. Experience Local Downtown Culture at Historically Rich Festivals
  8. 8. Shop for Astro Boy Souvenirs at the “Tezuka Osamu Shop & Café”
  9. 9. Enjoy A Spectacular View of Asakusa at the “Asakusa Cultural Tourist Information Center Observation Deck”
  10. 10. Go a Little Further to Visit Tokyo Skytree

1. Visit the famous Sensōji Temple Early in the Morning

1. Visit the famous Sensōji Temple Early in the Morning
The Kaminarimon Gate of Sensōji Temple in the morning

First, we start at the iconic Sensōji Temple. Six to seven in the morning is when neither Sensōji nor the Kaminarimon Gate of the temple is crowded yet, so if you visit then, you will be able to take photographs without anyone in the background. Since you do not have to spend time waiting to get a good shot, the time saved will allow you to spend more time visiting other locations!

Nakamise Shopping Street in the morning

Established in the year 628, Sensōji Temple is visited by approximately 30 million people every year. In the morning, Nakamise Shopping Street, within the grounds of Sensōji Temple, is relatively empty so you will be able to take in the view of the street, complete with the beautiful, intricate details of Japanese architecture.

Tour Sensōji at your own pace

While you will get to tour the compounds of Sensōji Temple at your own pace in the morning, finding other tourist attractions to visit after that might be a challenge since not many places are open that early in the morning. If this is your first time heading to the Asakusa area, it may be a good idea to join a private guided tour. A local guide will show you around the best locations in Asakusa.

  • Senso-ji Temple
    • Address 2-3-1, Asakusa, Taitou-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Asakusa Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Toei Asakusa Line / Tobu Isesaki Line (Tobu Sky Tree Line) / Tsukuba Express)
      5 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3842-0181

2. Enjoy the Specialty Sweets Sold at Nakamise Shopping Street

2. Enjoy the Specialty Sweets Sold at Nakamise Shopping Street
Kimura-ya Honten, a ningyoyaki shop founded in the Edo period with over 150 years of history

Multiple shops selling various goods and delicacies line Nakamise Shopping Street, which connects the main hall of Sensōji Temple with the Kaminarimon Gate. A highly recommended shop is Kimura-ya Honten, which sells ningyoyaki, a soft cake filled with sweet red bean paste. As the key specialty of Asakusa, the ningyoyaki is sold by many different shops in the area, but Kimura-ya is considered to be the pioneer of ningyoyaki, which reflects it old origins that go all the way back to the Edo period.

The ningyoyaki souvenir set from Kimura-ya Honten

The best-selling item from the shop is the souvenir set, comprising of a lovely box that contains four kinds of ningyoyaki modelled after Asakusa’s most well-known symbols. The ningyoyaki are made using just a few simple ingredients – wheat flour, eggs, sugar and honey. The soft and fluffy texture of the cake makes a perfect match with the moist and mildly sweet red bean paste!

Ningyoyaki filled with smooth red bean paste. The “Matcha Dainagon Ningyoyaki,” which consists of matcha-flavored cake filled with matcha-flavored bean paste, is also available

3. Go Around Asakusa in a Traditional Japanese Kimono

3. Go Around Asakusa in a Traditional Japanese Kimono
Stroll around Asakusa and Sensōji Temple in a kimono

There are many tourists who visit Japan so they can explore Tokyo while dressed in the kimono, which is Japan’s traditional costume. If you wish to do the same, you can choose from the many kimono rental shops in Asakusa.

Pick a kimono you like from among the great variety in the different shops

There is a wide range of kimono rental shops, from those that provide rental services for around 3,000 yen to those that carry more than 800 kinds of branded kimono. Among these shops, there are many that cater to foreign customers and are able to provide their services in foreign languages such as English and Mandarin Chinese, so there is no need to worry about the language barrier at all!

Customers can get their hair done at many of these shops too

Shop staff will help you to put on the kimono, but depending on the shop, the kimono rental package may also be inclusive of hairstyling or professional photography services. With so many shops available, you will be able to find a shop that provides the services you need!

4. Try the Richest Matcha Gelato in the World at “Suzukien x Nanaya”

4. Try the Richest Matcha Gelato in the World at “Suzukien x Nanaya”
You can now enjoy popular matcha gelato at this long-established tea wholesaler Suzukien through its collaboration with Nanaya

The truth is that Asakusa has been the talk of the town in recent years for its ice cream. If you walk along the side roads of Sensōji Temple for slightly more than 10 minutes, you will reach “Suzukien,” a long-established tea wholesaler shop set up along Kototoi-dōri Street. Here at Suzukien, you can try the popular matcha gelato produced in collaboration with “Shizuoka Matcha Sweets Factory Nanaya.”

Many kinds of amazing ice-cream lined up in the display showcase

There are more than 13 types of gelato offered here, with the matcha gelato available in seven levels of richness. As a tea wholesaler, the shop also offers other flavors of gelato like hōjicha (roasted green tea) and kōcha (black tea).

“Matcha Premium NO.7,” known as “the world’s richest” matcha gelato

The most popular flavor here is the “Matcha Premium NO.7,” made using the maximum amount of matcha that can be added into the gelato machine. This is “the world’s richest” matcha gelato.

  • Suzukien x Nanaya Collaboration Shop
    壽々喜園×ななやコラボショップ
    • Address Suzukien Asakusa Honten-nai, 3-4-3 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to, 111-0032
    • Nearest Station 10-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tōei Asakusa Line, Tobu Isesaki Line (Tokyo Skytree Line) and Tsukuba Express
    • Phone Number 03-3873-0311
    • Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (with the exception of New Year holidays)
      Closed: No fixed days

5. Try Your Hand at This Traditional Japanese Technique! Make Your Own Fake Food at “Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya”

5. Try Your Hand at This Traditional Japanese Technique! Make Your Own Fake Food at “Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya”
“Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya” in Kappabashi is where you can make your own food samples

With their uncanny resemblance to actual food, Japan’s food samples in the display showcases of restaurants have always wowed foreigners. If these food samples fascinate you, this is an experience you would not want to miss.

In the process of making two tempura prawns and a head of lettuce

“Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya Kappabashi-ten” holds regular sessions for visitors to try their hand at making tempura and lettuce samples. Here, you will rely on traditional techniques to create your own food samples using wax.

The completed food samples

In general, the hands-on session will be conducted in Japanese, but English sessions are also available for bookings when English-speaking staff are on duty. Because the making of food samples involves working with hot water and melted wax, all participants have to be briefed before starting the activity. As such, interested participants should join a tour with a guide by signing up at the link below, or go with someone who is able to translate.

6. Explore the Streets of Asakusa on a Rickshaw!

6. Explore the Streets of Asakusa on a Rickshaw!
These popular rickshaws can be spotted around Asakusa

Have you ever seen pulled rickshaws gallantly maneuvering the streets of Asakusa? Although this mode of transport has a long history starting from the Meiji period, it is now a popular attraction for tourists. Simply join a tour at its designated timeslot to enjoy the sights of Asakusa on a pulled rickshaw.

Visit interesting attractions in Asakusa on a rickshaw

You will be surprised at how pleasant of a ride it is – so comfortable you will not feel the bumpiness of the road. Plus, sitting in the rickshaw and riding next to the traffic feels all so surreal! During the journey, the rickshaw puller will share about Asakusa’s streets and famous attractions with you, which will make your time more fulfilling than ever.

7. Experience Local Downtown Culture at Historically Rich Festivals

7. Experience Local Downtown Culture at Historically Rich Festivals
Sanja Matsuri (Photo Credits: Taitō Ward)

Traditional events are also part of Asakusa’s appeal. There are lots of exciting events and festivals all year round, including the famous Sanja Matsuri and the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. In particular, the Sanja Matsuri, which is held on the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May every year, is known to be one of the three biggest festivals of Edo as well as one of Japan’s most famous festivals. It is said to be the liveliest festival among all in the Asakusa area and is also considered to be a defining feature of the start of summer in Asakusa. Don’t miss the “Daigyōretsu” parade, featuring people clad in Edo period costumes, as well as the mikoshi (portable Shinto shrine) procession, involving around 100 mikoshi from the neighborhoods of Asakusa.

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival (Photo Credits: Taitō Ward)

Held every year on the last Saturday of July, the “Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival,” one of the most famous firework festivals in the Tokyo area, is attended by approximately a million people annually. The event venue is divided into two areas, where an estimated combined total of 20,000 fireworks will be set off.

Asakusa Samba Carnival Parade Contest (Photo Credits: Asakusa Samba Carnival Executive Committee)

The “Asakusa Samba Carnival Parade Contest” is another popular event held in late August. Just like the original Rio de Janeiro Carnival, dancers decked in colorful costumes parade down the street to the beat of samba.

8. Shop for Astro Boy Souvenirs at the “Tezuka Osamu Shop & Café”

8. Shop for Astro Boy Souvenirs at the “Tezuka Osamu Shop & Café”
Official merchandise inspired from the works of Tezuka Osamu, a renowned Japanese manga artist often considered to be the ‘godfather’ of Japanese manga

In recent years, Asakusa has seen a rise in the number of official character merchandise shops, featuring characters from various anime and manga. The “Tezuka Osamu Shop & Café” is one of them and has been garnering much interest due to the popularity of the manga artist Tezuka Osamu’s most famous work, Astro Boy, even among overseas fans.

The shop includes a Japanese-style character cafe

The first floor is packed with lots of official goods from Mr. Tezuka’s works, including Astro Boy, Black Jack and Princess Knight.

A gallery of Tezuka Osamu’s works

On the second floor is a Japanese-style character café, which boasts a menu with various food and drinks featuring characters created by Mr. Tezuka. In addition, the third floor is a gallery where visitors can look back on Tezuka Osamu’s works and enjoy his original artwork.

  • Atom do honpo
    アトム堂本舗
    • Address 2-7-13, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station 6-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tobu Isesaki Line or Toei Asakusa Line (4-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express)
    • Phone Number 03-5246-4891
    • Opening Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 pm. (last order at the café at 5:30 p.m.)
      Closed: Thursdays

Besides this shop, there are many other character merchandise shops around featuring Hello Kitty, Miffy, Monchhichi, Moomin, Studio Ghibli characters and more. The goods make great souvenirs so do check these shops out!

9. Enjoy A Spectacular View of Asakusa at the “Asakusa Cultural Tourist Information Center Observation Deck”

9. Enjoy A Spectacular View of Asakusa at the “Asakusa Cultural Tourist Information Center Observation Deck”
The “Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center,” a new tourist attraction located opposite the Kaminarimon Gate

The next recommendation we would like to introduce is a location where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Asakusa. On the eighth floor of the “Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center,” situated opposite the Kaminarimon Gate, is an observation deck. Here, you can look out onto the streets of Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree and bask in the superb view for free!

Enjoy free admission to this terrace, where you can even see Tokyo Skytree

Upon entering the observation deck, one is greeted with the sight of Tokyo Skytree in the distance. With benches available in the area, visitors can relax and rest their feet while taking in the spectacular view.

The view from the observation deck

By matching the scenery before you with the information board available, you will be pick out the locations of the various tourist attractions while enjoying a bird’s eye view of Asakusa!

10. Go a Little Further to Visit Tokyo Skytree

10. Go a Little Further to Visit Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree

A 15-minute walk from Asakusa will take you to “Tokyo Skytree,” a new landmark in Japan. Standing at 634m, much taller than the Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Skytree functions as a stand-alone communications tower and comes complete with restaurants, souvenir shops and an observation deck, also known as the Tembo Deck, that grants you a panoramic view of Tokyo.

The Tembo Galleria, encircled by glass panels, stands at 450m above ground. Walking along the corridor feels almost like walking in the sky

The Tembo Deck is 350m above ground, whereas the Tembo Galleria is higher up at 450m. Depending on the weather, you can see out as far as 75km away from the Tembo Galleria on a good day and even get a view of Mount Fuji. Alternatively, you can visit the Tembo Galleria at sunset, when the sky is a brilliant shade of red, or at night for the beautiful night view.

The first floor of Solamachi, Tokyo Skytree’s shopping street, measures 120m in length and is a perfect place for souvenir shopping

At the base of Tokyo Skytree is the shopping complex “Tokyo Solamachi,” which includes approximately more than 300 different stores. Explore Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree and Solamachi for a fun and interesting day in Tokyo!

Written by Mae Kakizaki

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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