- First, a little history
- Making your way through Asakusa Nakamise
- Asakusa is just the beginning
- Quick tips to make the most of Asakusa Nakamise
- A little planning goes a long way
First, a little history
Considered to be one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan, the origins of Asakusa Nakamise date back to the early 18th century. During the rapid expansion of Edo (now known as Tokyo), residents in the area were allowed to set up shops on the Sensoji Temple grounds.
Government edicts, as well as both natural and man-made disasters, have caused the shops to take on many different forms throughout history. However, the Edo-era spirit of the area remains to this day, and that makes Asakusa Nakamise an attractive escape from the hyper-modern skyscrapers that dominate the Tokyo landscape.
Making your way through Asakusa Nakamise
Upon exiting from either Asakusa Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line) or Tobu Asakusa Station (Tobu Skytree Line), your first stop will be the grand Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”). Asakusa Nakamise is sandwiched between two large gates that lead to Sensoji. Kaminarimon is the first that you’ll encounter.
After snapping a few pictures, you’ll be free to explore Asakusa Nakamise in all its glory. The crowds may be intimidating at first, but if you see a shop that you like, don’t hesitate to enter. You should have a little breathing room once inside.
Once you’ve loaded up on a variety of traditional snacks and souvenirs, you’ll soon find yourself in front of the Hozomon (“Treasure House Gate”), the second of the two great gates. Upon passing through, you’ll be right in front of the towering Sensoji Temple. Your adventure certainly doesn’t end here, though.
Asakusa is just the beginning
Although Asakusa is on the outskirts of Tokyo proper, a visit to this part of town can lead to a full day of adventure. Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest free-standing tower one of Tokyo’s newest attractions, is only a 20-minute walk away. Don’t worry about getting lost. Skytree dominates the skyline and all you have to do is point yourself in the right direction and enjoy a stroll through Tokyo’s literal “downtown.”
Tired of trains and walking? Take a cruise down the nearby Sumida River on the Tokyo Water Bus, a sightseeing boat that can take you to the breathtaking Hama Rikyu Garden or the cosmopolitan shopping, dining, and entertainment of Odaiba.
Quick tips to make the most of Asakusa Nakamise
- – Arrive early to beat the crowds. Shops typically open at 9 a.m. An early start will also ensure that you have plenty of time to stroll over to Skytree or cruise the Sumida River after soaking up history and scooping up souvenirs in Asakusa.
- – Head off of the beaten path. Covered shopping arcades run parallel and perpendicular to Asakusa Nakamise. These areas tend to be less crowded and are a great place to enjoy all kinds of Japanese restaurants and cafes.
- – Tired after a long day of sightseeing? Kick back and enjoy a guided rickshaw tour of the Sensoji Temple grounds