Nestled in the heart of Tokyo lies the historic neighborhood of Asakusa, renowned for its rich culture, stunning temples, and bustling streets. Asakusa is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic taste of traditional Japan.
From ancient shrines to modern entertainment, there's something for everyone in this vibrant district. Here, we'll explore the best things to do in Asakusa, including the top attractions, delicious local cuisine, and cultural experiences that make this neighborhood a truly unique and unforgettable destination.
Main image: PIXTA
1. Visit the famous Sensōji Temple early in the morning
To begin our exploration of Asakusa, we'll head to the famous Sensōji Temple. For the best experience, we recommend visiting in the early morning hours, around 6-7 am, when the temple and its Kaminarimon Gate are relatively quiet and free from crowds. This means you'll have the opportunity to take photos without any distractions in the background. By saving time on capturing the perfect shot, you can maximize your visit and spend more time discovering other exciting locations in the area.
Sensōji Temple, which dates back to 628 AD, attracts an impressive 30 million visitors annually. As you explore the temple grounds, be sure to wander down Nakamise Shopping Street, which is located within the temple precinct. Morning is an ideal time to visit, as the street is typically less crowded, allowing you to fully appreciate the intricate details of Japanese architecture and soak in the ambiance of this historic area.
After your visit to Sensōji Temple in the morning, you may find it challenging to locate other open tourist attractions in the area. If you're new to Asakusa and unsure of where to go next, consider joining a private guided tour. A knowledgeable local guide can show you the best locations in the neighborhood and provide insight into the rich history and culture of the area. This is a great way to make the most of your time in Asakusa and ensure you don't miss any hidden gems.
2. Experience thrills and fun at Hanayashiki, Tokyo's oldest amusement park
Established in 1853, Asakusa Hanayashiki holds the distinction of being Japan's oldest amusement park. Among its many attractions is a roller coaster that dates back to 1953, making it the oldest surviving "scream machine" in the country. With a wide variety of rides catering to all ages, including options suitable for infants and spine-tingling haunted houses, Hanayashiki is a fantastic destination for a family outing. Enjoy the festive atmosphere of traditional Japanese fair stalls in the game zone, or sign up for a ninja training session at the popular Ninja Training Dojo (reservations required; suitable for ages 5 and up). For stunning views of Asakusa's main hall, five-story pagoda, and other local sights, head to the rooftop area.
3. Indulge in specialty sweets at Nakamise Shopping Street
Nakamise Shopping Street, the path that links Sensōji Temple's main hall with the Kaminarimon Gate, is brimming with a wide variety of shops selling diverse goods and delicacies. One store that we highly recommend visiting is Kimura-ya Honten, renowned for its ningyoyaki: a soft cake filled with sweet red bean paste. While many shops in the Asakusa area sell ningyoyaki, Kimura-ya is regarded as the pioneer of this treat, with a rich history dating back to the Edo period. If you want to sample the best version of this Asakusa specialty, be sure to stop by Kimura-ya.
The shop's most popular offering is the souvenir set, which features a charming box containing four varieties of ningyoyaki, each shaped after a prominent symbol of Asakusa. These delightful treats are crafted using a simple blend of wheat flour, eggs, sugar, and honey. The cakes' soft and fluffy texture pairs perfectly with the moist, mildly sweet red bean paste filling, creating a delectable treat that's sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
4. Discover the art of Edo Kiriko Glass Cutting in Asakusa
Get hands-on with one of Japan's most cherished traditions and try your hand at "Edo kiriko," the ancient art of glass cutting. With over ten stunning designs to choose from, you'll be able to select your favorite and carve intricate patterns into the sides or bottom of a piece of glass. Experience the essence of Japan at its most vibrant and leave with a unique souvenir of your own creation. Don't miss the chance to discover the beauty of Edo kiriko glass cutting during your time in Tokyo.
5. Discover art and design at Amuse Museum, Asakusa's hidden gem
The Amuse Museum boasts a diverse range of offerings, including a museum dedicated to textile culture and ukiyo-e paintings depicting everyday life during the Edo period (1603-1868), a select shop offering Japanese-style products, and an event hall. Visitors can explore the world of Japanese art and craft through exhibitions and movies, including the museum's permanent exhibition, BORO. This exhibit features a rare collection of Tanaka Chuzaburo, a folklorist, consisting of boro: pieces of old clothing that have been patched and sewn repeatedly over generations. The museum also showcases super-high-resolution digital movies of famous ukiyo-e artwork by renowned painters such as Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Kitagawa Utamaro, which are typically only on display at the Boston Museum. Don't forget to visit the museum shop, where you can purchase small Japanese-style items like towels, fans, and traditional crafts created by various artists.
6. Go around Asakusa in a traditional Japanese kimono
Asakusa is home to numerous kimono rental shops that cater to tourists who want to explore Tokyo while dressed in Japan's traditional costume. If you're interested in donning a kimono for a day, you'll have a wide variety of rental options to choose from in this neighborhood.
Whether you're on a budget or looking for high-end options, there are kimono rental shops in Asakusa to suit every need. Some shops offer rentals for as low as 3,000 yen, while others boast a vast collection of over 800 branded kimono. Many of these shops cater to foreign visitors and offer their services in English or Mandarin Chinese, eliminating any concerns about a language barrier.
Upon renting a kimono, shop staff will assist you in putting it on, and some shops may offer additional services such as hairstyling or professional photography as part of their rental packages. With a variety of shops to choose from, you can easily find one that offers the services you desire.
7. Try the richest Matcha gelato in the world at “Suzukien x Nanaya”
In recent years, Asakusa has gained a reputation for its exceptional ice cream offerings. Just a 10-minute walk from Sensōji Temple along the side roads, you'll find a long-standing tea wholesaler called Suzukien, located on Kototoi-dōri Street. Here, you can indulge in the shop's famous matcha gelato, which is produced in collaboration with the Shizuoka Matcha Sweets Factory Nanaya.
At Suzukien, you can choose from over 13 different flavors of gelato, including matcha gelato available in seven levels of richness. As a tea wholesaler, the shop also serves other tea-inspired flavors like hōjicha (roasted green tea) and kōcha (black tea) 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
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
8. Capture delicious memories with an Instagrammable cooking class in Asakusa
Get ready to whip up some delicious Japanese delicacies and capture every moment with an Instagrammable cooking class in Asakusa! Learn the secrets of making temari sushi, miso-ball, asazuke, and more from the friendly staff, who speak English and love to share their knowledge of Asakusa's rich history and sushi's fascinating past. Plus, you'll have the best seat in the house for stunning views of the Sumida River while cooking up a storm. Don't miss this chance to create unforgettable memories with your taste buds and your camera!
9. Create your own realistic fake food at Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya
Japan's lifelike food samples, showcased in restaurant displays, have long amazed visitors with their uncanny resemblance to real food. If you're fascinated by these samples, don't miss out on the opportunity to create your own at this unique experience.
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.
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.
10. Explore the streets of Asakusa on a rickshaw!
Have you ever witnessed the grace of pulled rickshaws navigating the streets of Asakusa? While this mode of transportation dates back to the Meiji period, it's now a beloved tourist attraction. To experience the sights of Asakusa from a unique perspective, simply sign up for a pulled rickshaw tour during its designated time slot.
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.
11. Discover Tokyo's culinary hub on Kappabashi Street
Kappabashi Street, located just a short distance from Asakusa, is a must-visit destination for foodies and culinary enthusiasts. This vibrant street is home to a wide range of shops offering everything from kitchenware and tableware to high-quality Japanese knives and food samples. Whether you're a professional chef or a home cook, you'll find everything you need to create a truly authentic Japanese culinary experience. Don't miss the opportunity to explore this unique street and take home some truly one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
12. Experience Local Downtown Culture at Historically Rich Festivals
Asakusa's traditional events are an integral part of its charm, with a variety of exciting festivals and celebrations taking place throughout the year. Among them, the Sanja Matsuri and Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival are particularly noteworthy. The Sanja Matsuri, held every May on the third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, is one of the largest festivals in Edo and one of Japan's most famous. This lively festival, which marks the start of summer in Asakusa, features the colorful Daigyōretsu parade with participants dressed in traditional Edo period costumes, as well as a mikoshi procession involving around 100 portable Shinto shrines from the Asakusa neighborhoods. Be sure not to miss the vibrant atmosphere and cultural highlights of this amazing festival.
Taking place every year on the final Saturday of July, the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival is widely regarded as one of Tokyo's premier fireworks events, drawing in crowds of around one million people. The festival features two separate areas, each showcasing a dazzling display of approximately 20,000 fireworks
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.
13. Shop for Astro Boy souvenirs at the “Tezuka Osamu Shop & Café”
Asakusa has experienced a surge in the number of official character merchandise shops in recent years, showcasing a variety of anime and manga characters. One such shop is the Tezuka Osamu Shop & Café, which has gained significant attention for its offerings related to the famous manga artist's most iconic work, Astro Boy. With its popularity extending even to overseas fans, this shop is a must-visit destination for anime and manga enthusiasts.
The first floor is packed with lots of official goods from Mr. Tezuka’s works, including Astro Boy, Black Jack and Princess Knight.
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
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.)
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!
14. Enjoy a spectacular view of Asakusa at the "Asakusa Cultural Tourist Information Center Observation Deck"
Our next recommendation offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Asakusa. Head to the eighth floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, located directly across from the Kaminarimon Gate, to access the observation deck. From here, you can take in the stunning sights of Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree, all completely free of charge. Don't miss the chance to soak up the incredible view from this amazing vantage point.
As you step onto the observation deck, your eyes are immediately drawn to the stunning sight of Tokyo Skytree in the distance. The area is equipped with benches, providing a comfortable spot for visitors to relax and take in the breathtaking panoramic view while giving their feet a rest.
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!
2-18-9, Kaminarimon, Taitou-ku, Tokyo, 111-0034
Asakusa Station （Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Toei Asakusa Line / Tobu Isesaki Line (Tobu Sky Tree Line) / Tsukuba Express）
1 minute on foot
- Phone Number 03-3842-5566
- Address 2-18-9, Kaminarimon, Taitou-ku, Tokyo, 111-0034
15. Indulge in an authentic sushi nigiri experience in Asakusa
Experience the ultimate sushi nigiri adventure at WASHOKU's shop, which opened in 2022 with a focus on "Japanese cuisine x experience." Their hands-on cooking class will guide you through the entire sushi-making process, from the very beginning. The instructors also provide tips on how to practice at home, beyond what you learn in the classroom. With these skills under your belt, you might even be able to host a sushi party with delicious homemade nigiri sushi. Don't miss this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the art of sushi-making in the heart of Asakusa.
16. Go a Little Further to Visit Tokyo Skytree
You can take a leisurely stroll for about 15 minutes from Asakusa to reach the iconic "Tokyo Skytree," a well-known landmark in Japan. This stand-alone communications tower boasts a height of 634 meters, towering above the Tokyo Tower. Visitors can enjoy various attractions such as restaurants, souvenir shops, and the Tembo Deck, an observation deck that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Tokyo.
The Tembo Deck, located 350m above ground, and the higher Tembo Galleria at 450m, offer stunning panoramic views of Tokyo up to 75km away on clear days. Catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji or enjoy a breathtaking sunset from the Tembo Galleria, and witness the city transform into a twinkling wonderland at night.
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!
This article was originally written in May 2020 by Mae Kakizaki, and updated with additional content in April 2023.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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