Asakusa 浅草 is home to Tokyo’s oldest temple, making it a must-visit in 東京 Tokyo. This area suffered extensive damage during the Tokyo bombings that took place during the Second World War and was rebuilt thereafter. The preserved historical downtown area of Asakusa is now one of the most visited tourist spots in the city, famous for its old-world charm. There are no neon signs in Asakusa that are synonymous with districts such as Shinjuku, Akihabara, or Shibuya. There aren’t many modern buildings either and most shops are family-owned, giving this area a completely different vibe from most of Tokyo. Exploring the small side streets of Asakusa offers a more traditional feel of Tokyo and will almost feel as if you time-traveled back to the Edo period in the 1600s. Asakusa holds a prime position in nearly every Tokyo guidebook. You could easily spend a whole day exploring Asakusa and its surrounding areas! That is why I have ten best things to do in Asakusa coming your way. 1. Stroll around in a Yukata 浴衣 Stroll around the streets of Asakusa in a 浴衣 yukata and take a lot of photos in the process with a temple or shrine in the background! Yukata is a casual version of the kimono, made of lighter, thinner and breathable material and is worn in the summer season to combat the hot temperature. There are heaps of yukata/kimono rental shops in Asakusa that offer a once in a lifetime experience to tourists or you can buy one! I wore a beautiful yukata gifted by DHC to Asakusa recently. It is a pretty cotton gauze yukata featuring a pattern of traditional purple cherry blossom patterns floating down the ivory fabric. The evenly spaced weave of the unbleached cotton gauze, or men-ro, keeps the body cool in the summer. The set also includes a red Kawari-musubi style tsukuri-obi which is a pre-tied bow that attaches to the obi belt in a traditional Japanese arrow feather or Yabane pattern. This set also includes a pair of geta which is a traditional Japanese-style sandal with an embroidered floral pattern on the red straps. Putting on an obi is often the hardest part of wearing a yukata. But a tsukuri-obi is easy to put on and saves you time! Just wind the belt around your waist and finish your look with the pre-tied bow. The belt draped down over the ribbon makes an elegant statement. There is a special feeling when wearing yukata to a temple or a summer festival! A yukata is a more casual style and far more affordable than a kimono; therefore, it is easier for people to purchase one and wear around on a more regular basis. It is a perfect gift to buy – either for yourself or as a souvenir for someone else. You can find some lovely yukata designs on the DHC website, see more details, here. Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 2. Pass through Kaminarimon 雷門 Kaminarimon 雷門, also known as the thunder gate, is the outer of two gates that lead to Senso-ji Temple. With its massive red lantern and towering statues, it is an experience not to be missed. On the right side of Kaminarimon, to the east, you can see a statue of the Wind God, while on the left side, to the west, there is the statue of the Thunder God. There are lots of tourists as well as locals who flock to this gate to take photos under the huge red lantern! Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 3. Shop and Eat at Nakamise Dori 仲見世通り Nakamise Dori 仲見世通りis a pedestrian shopping street that extends from Kaminarimon to Senso-ji Temple. Nakamise Dori Shopping Street is one of the oldest shopping streets in Asakusa Tokyo. This 250-meter long road is famous for its narrow, alley-like atmosphere as well as being lined with independent shops, stalls, and food stand. There are literally hundreds of stores selling a plethora of items; everything from simple magnets to Japanese traditional snacks and food items, to antique kimono and authentic samurai swords! This is the best place to look for original Japanese handicrafts and souvenirs to bring back home. Also, it’s a great place to taste local flavor and try Japanese street food! Hours: Depends on the individual shops; typically, daily from 9:00 to 17:00 Admission: Free Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 4. Get blessings at Senso-ji 浅草寺 Senso-ji 浅草寺 is considered Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of the most important landmarks of Asakusa. It dates to the 7th century, though the current buildings were all reconstructed after WWII. Senso-ji is also Tokyo’s most popular temple, so don’t be surprised if it’s jam-packed with tourists! The temple grounds are quite big and open 24 hours so try to check it out at night when no one is there. Honestly, it is more peaceful and beautiful when the crowds have left! Remember to check out the large dragon fountain and cleanse yourself with its water. Or purify yourself with the dense smoke from the huge incense pot! Hours: 6:00 to 17:00 Admission: Free Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet image via internet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 5. Get an Omikuji おみくじ Since you are already at Senso-ji, why not have a peek into the future? Whether or not you believe in getting your fortune told, getting an Omikuji paper at Senso-ji is both fun and affordable. Just for 100 yen, you can pick your own fortune out of a box. Omikuji is a Japanese fortune-telling paper strip that can be found at shrines and temples throughout the country. The fortune that one is granted can range from having a great blessing to a great curse. If you pick a good one, more power to you! And a bad one? Well, in that case, tie it to a nearby stand so that bad luck or evil spirits cannot follow you home! Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 6. Get Snapped with The Golden Turd The Asahi Beer Tower is one of Tokyo’s most recognizable buildings with a gold figure on top of a glittering black building. It is the headquarters of the Asahi Breweries and was built in 1989. The golden structure on top of the building is more commonly known as the Golden Turd and is considered as one of the most iconic art and architectural landmarks in Asakusa Tokyo. The building houses several restaurants and the Asahi Craftmanship Brewery. You will notice grooves of tourists taking photos of this strange gold object, from a red bridge known as Azuma Bashi. From this bridge, you can take the best photos of the Skytree, Asahi Beer golden statue, and the cruise ships sailing on the 隅田川 Sumida River! Perfect picture spot! Hours: Restaurants open daily from 11:30 to 22:00 Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 7. Unwind at Sumida Park 隅田公園 Sumida Park 隅田公園 is located alongside the Sumida River between the Azumabashi and Sakurabashi bridges, offering a relaxing spot to unwind and take pictures of the Tokyo Skytree in the background. Sumida Park in Asakusa Tokyo offers beautiful views of the architectural wonders of the city without all the hustle and bustle of downtown. Many Tokyo locals come to Sumida in the springtime to watch the cherry blossoms. Others come for a relaxing picnic, romantic stroll along the river, or just get coffee at some coffee shops located there! This place is not very popular amongst the tourists, making it a perfect spot to relax, away from the crowds! Hours: Always open Admission: Free Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 8. Get transported to the Edo Era in Nostalgic Side Streets There are numerous side streets in Asakusa Tokyo that will transport you back to oh so fascinating, the Edo Era. These side streets are the soul of Asakusa and there are many cool streets to check out! Hoppy Street is the perfect place to have fun and drink with the locals! Or head over to Kappabashi かっぱ橋道具街 where you will find specialized stores for dishes, pots, pans, cooking utensils, plastic food items, signs, lanterns, and much more. You can buy a traditional Japanese ceramic piece to take back with you from there! Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 9. See the city views from the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center The Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center was opened in 2012. The building stands out in the area with its interesting and unique architectural design. The eight-story building has a tourist information desk in several languages, free Wi-Fi, a cafe, and an observation deck which provides amazing views of Nakamise Dori, Sensoji Temple, and Tokyo Skytree. Their café is located on the observatory floor, hence, highly recommended to sip your coffee while absorbing the amazing city views! Hours: 9:00 to 20:00 but the observation deck is open until 22:00 Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet Vivalahighstreet 10. Ride a Jinrikisha Asakusa can easily be explored on foot, however, for the sake of beautiful photos, you can consider a guided tour on a rickshaw or jinrikisha which literally translates to a man-powered vehicle. Their drivers are professionally trained and are called “shafu” in Japanese. Each shafu goes through an extensive training program focused on safety, hospitality, and the history and culture of Asakusa. You can find them just outside of the station, and the drivers will be actively pursuing you to take a ride. Various time options are available. A unique experience! image via internet Getting there: You can easily get to Asakusa by four different train lines – Toei Asakusa Line, Metro Ginza Line, Tobu Skytree Line, and Tsukuba Express. Happy sightseeing!