Tips for visiting Asakusa

After arriving in Japan and getting a good night’s sleep, I decided to visit one of the most popular temples in Tokyo, located in Asakusa. A visit to Japan is not exactly complete without visiting at least one temple.

Why Asakusa?

Tokyo is a very modern and fast paced city with a lot of lights and action. I wanted a more “authentic” Japanese experience so I decided on Asakusa since it is one of Tokyo’s neighborhoods that retained the old atmosphere.

Asakusa is a small neighborhood, and it can be toured by foot or rickshaw which is a man powered vehicle. It looks like a carriage but with a man pulling the passengers instead of horses. Rickshaw costs about 9000 yen per person. Touring on foot is definitely more cost effective.

The temples and shrines in Asakusa neighborhood include Kaminarimon, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa shrine and Dempoin Temple.

Kaminarimon (or Kaminari Gate) is a large entrance leading to sensoji temple. It was built over 1000 years ago.

Sensoji temple is a Buddhist temple filled with a lot of tourists, and people who come to pray. The temple was completed in 645 therefore, it is Tokyo’s oldest temple.

Sensoji Temple

Kimono Rental

I noticed a multitude of ladies wearing Kimonos at Sensoji Temple. A kimono can be rented for a day and at kimono rental shops around Asakusa. Some can be rented for as cheap as 2,900 yen from Kyoto Kimono Rental (they are quite popular in the area). The store is 5 minutes walking distance from Asakusa Station, and 3 minutes walking distance from Sensoji Temple.

Japanese ladies in kimono

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji temple was crowded on the inside. It is a beautiful temple that displayed a lot of golden structures. I watched as people offered coins, and carried out their religious practices in the temple.

Locals and tourists offered coins and said their prayers.

Where to eat and shop in Asakusa?

Nakamise shopping street is located outside Sensoji Temple. It is a very popular street where people purchase kimonos, Japanese memorabilia, and most importantly street food (nom nom nom).

The street food on Nakamise shopping street includes ice cream, fresh orange juice, and barbecue seafood and beef. I got fresh orange juice, barbecue seafood and beef for about 1500 yen total (yummy).

Orange Juice

Steak and squid

Best time to visit Asakusa and Nakamise Shopping Street?

I visited the Sensoji temple on a Saturday and it was crowded. A lot of people were praying while others (like me) were observing.  The best time to visit Asakusa is on a weekday or early in the morning that way. It is less crowded during those times. The weekend has an equal mix of locals and tourists therefore, the temple gets a large number of visitors throughout the day.

Getting to Asakusa from Shinjuku Station:

Take orange JR Chuo Line towards Tokyo Station to Kanda Station.
Transfer to Ginza Line (Platform 2) for Asakusa
Total: 340 yen

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