Only rivaled by Nippori, Asakusa has more traditional Japan crammed in one area than any other district in Tokyo. Asakusa's Sensoji Temple ranks near the top in popularity for tourist spots as a favorite for foreigners, but even more so for the Japanese themselves. The first thing you will notice upon exploring Asakusa is its feeling of 'old', and this is certainly the case. It becomes apparent when you take a tour through the back streets. You'll not only discover Japanese homes, hundreds of years old, but also deteriorating shacks, making American Ghettos look clean and modern. Rusty steel buildings are a common sight.
Serving as a both a drum shop and museum, the Taikokan is full of things to discover. Here you can find the legendary Japanese Taiko Drum, in various sizes. Their largest one, standing a tall 6.5 feet costs approx 60,000 USD, their smaller unit only 7,000 USD. There is much more than just Taiko drums. You'll also find a variety of other native percussion instruments, hand cymbals and cymbals that look like sauce pans as well.
There is a wide selection of ceremonial dress, as well as an impressive collection of Japanese flutes.
A ten minute walk from Sensoji, is the Honzan Higashi Honganji, being the same size of the Sensoji main hall (but with 90% less the visitors) it is definitely worth checking out. And with a spacious and empty front courtyard you can stand and take in all of its grandeur.
The shopping market experience doesn't end with just Nakamise. Shin Nakamise (New Nakamise) conveniently runs straight through Nakamise and being nearly twice the area it has an abundance of bunk and shopping. Essentially a 'pedestrian only' street with a ceiling overhead the Shin-Nakamise offers a McDonalds, a convenience store, restaurants, street vendors, retail stores and more.
Although, the shopping experience is slightly geriatric, you will find some contemporary items, as well as many traditional Japanese items, umbrella shops, clothing, toys.
Easily making it in to our 'Essential Exploring' list is the world famous Sensoji Temple and environs. No doubt at some point in your life you've seen photos of either the Nakamise Dori or Kamimarimon Gate. This well preserved area is a national treasure and a terrific experience. Read More...
Outside the Kamimarimon Gate and at a few other locations in Asakusa you'll find young men in tight sports gear (and some in traditional Japanese clothing) standing around hustling passersby to buy their unique services. For around 3000 yen they'll take you on a rickshaw for a scenic and charming tour around Asakusa. Some of them speak English so don't be surprised to hear someone shout out to you: "hey guy over here!" Provided it doesn't offend your sensibilities it is a unique and relaxing way to explore the area.
JR Yamanote Line to Ueno, transfer to Ginza Line, get off at Asakusa Station.
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