Senso-ji Temple, the oldest temple located in Tokyo, and Nakamise-dori connecting the Kaminarimon entrance to the main hall, are constantly crowded with sightseers on a yearly basis. Since the area has always had a large number of temples since the Edo Period, it has been called Teramachi, which translates to ‘City of Temples’. Asakusa Kokusai Avenue is where you can enjoy shopping while walking through this Teramachi. As soon as you exit Asakusa Station, there are many unique stores that sell goods such as Japanese sweets and there is even a taiko drum museum. The area of old streets where people have been residing since the Edo Era is called shitamachi (old downtown), and it is recommended that people take their time to take a look around at the history of the Asakusa corner of shitamachi. During the springtime, the nearby Sumida River has cherry blossom trees lined up on both sides of the riverbank for a kilometer and when in full bloom, it is a great place to be for hanami.
In Asakusa, you are able to enjoy the cherry blossoms, shitamachi, and the Tokyo Skytree. The Tokyo Skytree soars above the old town of Asakusa with its temples, wooden residences, rickshaws, and venerable dining establishments such as Imahan (sukiyaki) and Daikokuya (tempura) contributing to its shitamachi atmosphere, is a popular photo opportunity location for many sightseers. In 2012, the Tokyo Skytree took on the role that Tokyo Tower had as the main radio tower and as a commercial facility, and in recent times, has become a new landmark of Tokyo. The tower has become popular as a sightseeing spot for Japanese and foreign visitors alike. The recently established commercial center called Solamachi, located directly next to Skytree, has everything from shopping to food for the young people of today. Concentrated under one roof, it is an ideal place to take a rest after exploring Asakusa.
When people think of Asakusa, they also think immediately of Kaminarimon. These are the outermost gates of Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-ji. The large red lantern located directly in front of these gates is one of the most photographed places in Asakusa. The path approaching the shrine that is located between the Kaminarimon and Senso-ji’s main hall is known as Nakamise-dori, and has many shops along it which sell a wide array of souvenirs and goods; such as sweets called Kaminari-okoshi made of rice, or traditional Japanese sweets called “ningyo-yaki” with red-bean paste between bite-sized sponge cakes. You can stroll and eat from many of these stores, so it is highly recommended to try as many unique delicacies as possible. The other goods sold range from sword replicas to Japanese fashion items, and it is likely that you will find souvenirs to your liking to take back home. Lined up outside of the temple are rickshaws whose drivers can carry and transport you around the area. During the Meiji and Taisho eras, as well as the initial stages of the Showa period, these rickshaws were very commonly used. These rickshaw drivers can not only take you around Asakusa, but they can also provide you with explanations and stories about the area as you ride around. This is recommended for those who want to tour Asakusa within a short amount of time.
The Asakusa Sanja Festival in May
Although there are many festivals throughout the year in Asakusa, the most famous of them is the Sanja Festival in May. The entire district of Asakusa comes alive during the festival, and the areas shrines and Nakamise-dori are some of the locations used for the festival. The festival continues on for 3 days and over 150,000 people visit each year. This festival is truly a seasonal tradition of the early days of summer.