Asakusa Travel Blog

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Asakusa is one of the neighborhoods of Tokyo that still carries with it an essence of the "old Shitamachi spirit". In the Tokugawa period, Asakusa was a midpoint betwen the city and the pleasure district of Yoshiwara. It developed into a thriving entertainment town that eventually became the center for kabuki theatre. Today, it is much like any other neighborhood with high-rises and the like, however it is no longer the pleasure district it once used to be. But just walking around you still get a sense that there's a feeling of the old Edo spirit at your heels.

At the center of Asakusa is the great temple, Senso-ji. Due to the extensive damage of the firebombing of WWII, the temple was rebuilt and has since been an attraction to Japanese people and travelers from all around.
The temple houses an image of the Buddhist goddess Kannon and the grounds are accentuated by various markers of Buddhist tradition. The shrine is accompanied by a 5-story pagoda and a huge incense-cauldron that bellows out "healing smoke" for visitors to pat over their bodies. Also a part of the temple is a Shinto shrine, tucked away behind the main temple.

I enjoyed taking the afternoon to walk the grounds and see the sites. Be warned however: since it's one of the larger temples in Tokyo, it is almost always crowded. I wouldn't even try it if it were around a holiday. That being said, the area surrounding the temple also makes for a nice tour. In front of the main gate is Nakamise-dori, the shopping district that sells almost anything Japanese, a great place to pick up some authentic gifts. There are plenty of good, cheap izakaya restaurant stalls just off the main road, down the alleys if your hungry or looking for a drink.
Look for the open store-fronts, the "Hops" and "Beer" signs, and the shouting shop owners trying to win your business. If you wander around enough, you're bound to run into (or be run over by) the passing rickshaws. The traditionally dressed drivers cart passengers around the alleys and streets while telling them about the history of the area in both English and Japanese; a nice way to see the town.

Asakusa is a great gateway to Tokyo, both old and new. I would recommend it to anyone passing through, even if you're not Buddhist, Shinto, or Japanese.
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this is the healing incense caul…
this is the "healing incense" cau…
the rickshaws
the rickshaws
nakamise-dori, lined with gifts an…
nakamise-dori, lined with gifts a…
one of the many izakaya stalls wit…
one of the many izakaya stalls wi…
inside the asakusa station
inside the asakusa station
photo by: PrestwickUK