Asakusa Nakamise: A Quick Guide to One of Tokyo’s Most Historic Locations

With its rich history, limitless food options, and some of the best souvenirs in town, it should come as no surprise that Asakusa Nakamise is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Tokyo. Located in the northern part of the city, Asakusa Nakamise is a historic “shopping street” that funnels visitors to Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest and most popular temple.

How you approach the bustling Asakusa Nakamise and its surroundings depends on your goals. Whether you are a foodie, history buff, or shopaholic, this part of town has something for you. Read on to learn how to navigate this historical treasure.

2019-05-13   Visit: Temples & Shrines, Tokyo,


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.

A visitor wearing a kimono under the Hozomon. Want to try on a kimono but don’t have time to go to Kyoto? Asakusa Nakamise is the place for you.

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.”

 

Tokyo Skytree is only a 20-minute walk from Asakusa Nakamise.

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

Shin-Nakamise (“New Nakamise”) intersects Asakusa Nakamise and is an excellent place to escape the crowds and discover new restaurants, cafés, and shops.
  • – 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

A little planning goes a long way

Although Asakusa Nakamise can seem touristy at times, its rich history, unparalleled souvenir shopping, and countless local activities make it a must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo. Use the information provided here as a guide, and I guarantee that you’ll have an unforgettable experience.

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AUTHOR

Anthony

Anthony

Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.

Information

Address 1 Chome-20 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo, 111-0032
Hours 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Price Free
Close None
Access One-minute walk from Asakusa Station
(Asakusa and Ginza lines)
Phone None
Language Japanese
English
Website http://www.asakusa-nakamise.jp/e-index.html