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