Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s most popular and historic districts, famous for its traditional temples, shops, restaurants, and lively atmosphere.
With so many sights to see and activities to enjoy, it can be hard to decide how to spend your time. This article outlines the top 10 things you absolutely must do when visiting Asakusa to make the most of your experience.
1. Visit Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is Asakusa’s most famous and popular temple, with a history going back over 1,400 years. Walk through the iconic Kaminarimon Gate with its enormous red lantern and venture into the lively Nakamise shopping street leading to the main hall. The temple grounds buzz with activity and are great for people watching.
2. Eat Street Food
Be sure to grab traditional Japanese street food like yakitori, taiyaki filled with sweet bean paste, or imaginative candy sculpted right before your eyes. You can find endless quick bites and sweet treats along Nakamise or at the small stalls and shops surrounding the temple.
3. Wear a Kimono or Yukata
Capture the traditional atmosphere by renting a kimono or more casual yukata to wear during your visit. Dressing up and strolling through Asakusa’s historic streets transports you to another time. Many shops in the area offer rental plans and help with dressing.
4. See a Traditional Show
Watching traditional performing arts is a quintessential Asakusa experience. See intricate acrobatics, comedy shows, theater, music, and dance at theaters and halls in the area, usually with English guidance available.
5. Take a Rickshaw Ride
For a fun and unique way to tour the district, hail a human-pulled rickshaw.
Professional runners will pull you around to key landmarks while you relax and enjoy the nostalgic ride through Asakusa’s old streets.
6. Shop for Souvenirs on Nakamise
Pick up some souvenirs from the roughly 90 tiny shops lining Nakamise street leading to Sensoji Temple’s main hall. They sell everything from authentic Japanese handicrafts and snacks to T-shirts and pop culture items.
7. Explore the Sumida River Waterfront
Take a relaxing stroll along Sumida River to admire views of Tokyo’s modern skyline juxtaposed with Asakusa’s heritage buildings and the Tokyo Skytree towering in the background. You can find cafés, dining cruise boats, modern architecture, and riverboat access here.
8. See a Live Music Show
In the evenings, small jazz bars and live music venues host intimate shows giving you a taste of Tokyo’s vibrant music scene. Shimokitazawa and Koenji neighborhoods nearby have lots of venues popular with locals to check out too.
9. Eat at Hoppy Street
Known as “Hoppy Street,” the narrow alley alongside Asakusa’s main shopping street is filled with tiny standing-only bars serving hoppy, a low-malt, high-alcohol beer with flavors like lemon or tomato. Strike up friendly conversations with locals and fellow travelers.
10. Visit the Amuse Museum
This quirky museum showcases a fascinating collection of unusual patches, embroidered fabrics, and textile crafts from Japan and around the world. It offers a uniquely Japanese experience focused on appreciating the artistry in everyday applied arts.
With so much culture, entertainment, shopping, and dining packed within a small riverside district, Asakusa makes for an unforgettable Tokyo experience. Use this list to help you make the most of your visit to this historic district.