Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Asakusa

  • Published 2021/09/26

See also: Best Things to Do in Tokyo

Replete with attractions, Asakusa is undoubtedly one of Tokyo’s leading districts.

Here, you will find everything in one thrilling time wrap.

It is where you get to experience the capital city of old.

Coming to the district, it is difficult to miss the grandeur of the old Sensoji temple and the post-war aesthetics.

But the oldness looming in the spirit of Tokyo’s uptown is not just the reason why you should plan your next visit to this district.

Below, we list the best things to do in Asakusa, Tokyo.

See Tokyo From a Different View With Sumida River Cruise

View of Sumida River Cruise

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Excited to share this brief tidbit of information I came across on some recent travels regarding Tokyo!

See, some might know it as an influential megalopolis, but did you know that Tokyo is a network of often unseen and forgotten streams, canals, and rivers?

Surrounded by Tokyo Bay and the Sumida River, the south-eastern part of this Japanese city faces the ocean.

View of Sumida River Cruise

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Tokyo is bursting with boats of all kinds and sizes, offering many options for commuters and tourists who need to get around the city.

One popular option is the suijo buses, also known as water buses!

View of Sumida River Cruise

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Tokyo Water Bus offers itineraries that run through the heart of Tokyo, besides being reasonably priced.

However, the water buses’ purpose isn’t just to serve as an ordinary transportation option for tourists and local citizens; they offer stunning city views and unique culinary trips.

Experience the Retro Slice of Tokyo at Asakusa’s Underground Shopping Center

If you want to experience the quintessence of Japanese life before the war, then you might want to head to Asakusa’s Underground Shopping Center.

Although easily accessible from EKIMISE, the popularity of this shopping center remains understated.

Despite its inception in 1955, little is known about its presence even to the Japanese.

You will find here many exceptional shops that offer reasonable prices.

Have a Relaxing Picnic at Sumida Park

Sumida Park

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The beauty of Sumida Park requires no introduction.

What better way to appreciate the charm of it than having a pleasant stroll at the park.

The commanding views of it still at large remain untapped by most of the tourists.

So while in Asakusa, have your evening spent taking a short picnic in the park.

It is certainly a fantastic spot to soak up the sun while understanding the local culture and aesthetics.

Have a Perfect First-Stop at Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

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It is next to impossible to miss the eye-catching Asakusa Culture and Tourist Information Center when in Asakusa.

Situated across the street from Sesoji’s temple’s Kaminarimon gate, it is a great way to get a view of the district.

We recommend visiting this place not only for its free guided tours and currency exchange but also for its observation deck.

This eight-story construction offers the best views of Sensoji.

Additionally, this saves much jostling and scrambling through the crowds.

The Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center also hosts exhibitions and cultural events, so make sure to check them out.

If you are running short of phone battery, make a beeline onto the second floor – the street-facing counter is equipped with electrical charging ports.

Have a Mouthful of Authentic Rice Balls From Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku

If you want to experience the delectableness of a traditional onigiri (rice balls), then waste no time and take a turn to Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku.

This restaurant situated to the north of Sensoji is known to serve exemplary lunchtime fares.

As an honor to its excellence, it appeared in the Michelin Guide for Tokyo in 2019 and 2020.

Despite its small size, this place lures quite a crowd.

The popularity could be quite a deterrent to effortless dining.

You have to try arriving as early as possible as the restaurant closes as soon as the ingredients for the day run out.

Hire a Rickshaw Ride to See the Beautiful Spots Around

Asakusa rickshaw

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You will not have trouble finding transportation options while in Tokyo.

With its massive network, all bases are covered.

If you are seeking an experience to be remembered, we highly recommend taking a rickshaw ride.

With picturesque sights, welcoming guides, and an unusual approach to transportation, it will absolutely make for a matchless experience.

That could be why the sight of rickshaws dashing through the streets is common in Asakusa.

This man-powered carriage is designed as such so it can accommodate close to two people.

To top it all, taking a ride is uncomplicated as it gets.

You can walk up to the driver and ask to be toured around.

The biggest plus to the rickshaw tour is that advance booking is not necessary.

However, if you are scheduling long rides, it is best to make a reservation.

Few companies even have customizable options wherein you will be picked up.

Have a Spot of Purification Outside the Sensoji

Sensoji pot

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Before entering the famed Sensoji, one cannot but notice the enormous smoking pot.

You will be enveloped by a blazing cloud of smoke from a massive earthenware called Jokoro.

The smoke rising from this incense burner is believed to possess a curative effect.

You can purchase your incense and fan the smoke to parts of you that want healing.

But this is not all.

A dragon-themed fountain stands towards the lower right corner of the steps.

As with most temples, the water from this is believed to spiritually cleanse you.

It is customary to wash your hands and your mouth with revered water.

Visit the Thunder Gate

Thunder Gate Sensoji

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As the main entrance to Sensoji temple, this dramatic foyer is emblematic of Asakusa.

This imposing structure with its staggering dimensions is popularly hailed as the “gate of the wind god and thunder god.

The Kaminarimon Gate is conceivably most celebrated for its enormous red lantern, rendering it one of the district’s buzzing tourist hotspots.

Beside the lantern are two impressive statues – the wind god and thunder god.

These benevolent deities are believed to guard the temple from hostile natural forces.

The lantern is unmistakable for its grandeur; the tantalizing dragon carvings embellishing its base are not to be missed.

The gate is free to visit and accessible at all hours.

But be warned, taking a picture from the thunder gate could be quite a trying task owing to the large crowds.

So we highly suggest coming here past evening when the place is devoid of the crowd.

In addition, the neighboring quarters are illuminated at this time, adding to the appeal.

Step Into the ‘Floating World’ at Asakusa Nishi-sandō Shopping Street

Asakusa Nishi-Sando Shopping Street is one of the most famous shopping streets and tourist attractions in Tokyo.

Although its location is within Senso-Ji temple’s grounds, Asakusa Nishi-Sando Shopping Street is not an official road that the government recognizes.

Staying close to the Senso-Ji temple means that it has more religious significance than just being a road for sightseeing.

It offers cultural elements of traditional Japanese buildings, which are different from western architecture styles.

They are specially registered as important cultural assets by Japan Government.

From round pillars, lanterns to roof tiles are all extraordinary selections for the Asakusa Nishi-Sando Shopping Street design with historical backgrounds behind them.

You will feel these elements along your most memorable walking path in Ukiyo-e style through the streets of Asakusa.

Pay Your Respects at Sensoji

Sensoji Temple


Being the oldest Buddhist temple in the capital, Sensoji is the most celebrated and photographed of Tokyo’s temples.

Dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, this five-story pagoda is bound to transport you to the bygone days that are sodden in history.

The rich strings of incense and vast overhanging are reminiscent of the legacy that will never go unnoticed.

The main entrance of Sensoji has transcended into an allegorical symbol of Asakusa.

Beyond the gate, the main hall and pagoda stand in their glory.

Although wrecked in war, the building has been relatively preserved of its splendor.

All through the year, the temple becomes the ground where popular seasonal events are held.

The most prominent among them are hozuki market (in July) and hagoita market (in December).

The admission to the temple ground is completely free of cost and can be accessed from 6 am to 5 pm.

Go Shopping at Nakamise-Dori


Takashi Images /

As one of the oldest shopping arcades in Japan, Nakamise-Dori is one of Asakusa’s most iconic shopping streets.

Starting right behind Sensoji’s epochal Kaminarimon, this street is effortless to locate.

When here, get ready to feel the old-school quintessence of irresistible crafts, souvenirs, and flatteringly delicious savories.

This shopping street has about ninety stalls that sell everything from samurai swords to sembei crackers, a local favorite sweet.

Nakamise-Dori also marks the place where you get the best street food.

From ningyo yaki (sponge cakes shaped into Asakusa’s renowned landmarks) to juicy fried meat croquettes, this place has it all.

Pray at Asakusa Shrine

Asakusa shrine

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As Sensoji’s neighbor, Asakusa Shrine has its own story to tell.

This shrine is symbolic of the county’s native religion and imported Buddhism.

While it may be challenging to cognize at first, having these two structures adjacent to each other is very syncretic.

Following a lofty torii shrine gate and a long throughway, you get to see the shrine where the two brothers who found Sensoji are enshrined.

Most visitors come to this shrine for its tranquillity and to have blessings that relate to safe travel, familial happiness, and general prosperity.

Additionally, you can purchase out-of-the-way omamori charms that are symbolic of hope.

The shrine’s festival, the Sanja Matsuri, is a glorious display conducted every year on the weekend in May.

Set Out to Improve Your Luck With Shichifukujin Pilgrimage

It is believed that whoever undertakes the Shichifukujin pilgrimage will be bestowed with abundant blessings.

This trip involves visiting shrines where the Seven Lucky Gods (the deities being Daikokuten, Ebisu, Bishamonten, Fukurokuju, Hotei, Jurojin, and Benzaiten) are enshrined.

It is difficult to find a shrine where they are apotheosized together, so the only way is to take on a binge visit to the many places where they are idolized.

Doing so will bring you prosperity in the varied aspects of your life.

Go on a Souvenir Spree

Asakusa souvenir

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Your visit to Asakusa will not be complete without shopping for souvenirs.

You will be struck by hundreds of stores that sell everything, from postcards to green tea snacks.

Authentic Japanese handicrafts are much in demand at the local markets.

That being said, finding the right place where you can purchase what you’re looking for could be quite a daunting task.

The most popular ones you can get-it-all are Nakamise Dori, EKIMISE, Don Quijote, and Rox.

Have Your Fortune Told at Omikuji Station


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Although it is not exactly free of cost, it is affordable.

Omikuji are strips of paper that are believed to foretell your future.

For trying out your luck, at the Omikuji station at Sensoji Temple, you have donated a sum of 100 yen in the box kept for the purpose.

You can then draw a stick wherein you get to see the slip that corresponds to your future.

You take home the “good fortune.”

However, if you get a “bad fortune,” make sure to tie it on a nearby tree or pole to ensure it does not follow you home.

Learn Japanese Cooking at Local Classes

Japanese Cooking Class

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What better way to heighten your Asakusa experience than attending a cooking workshop!

For a fun and relaxed way to explore traditional cuisine, it does not get better than a cooking class.

It would be worth every penny spent considering you get to learn how to prepare classic Japanese cuisines from residents themselves.

Air Kitchen typically offers classes wherein beginner recipes are provided to prepare sushi, rice balls, ramen, and even some of the time-honored sweets.

Many support classes even have provisions that prop up vegan, gluten-free, and even Halal dietary requirements.

Most instructors are well versed in English, so the language barrier is minimal.

So when in Asakusa, browse these lively and fun cooking classes to append an exhaustive and delicious activity to your itinerary.

Eat a Platter of Appetizing Vegan Fare From Farm Café

It is just not for its picturesque interiors that Farm Cafe is branded for.

This quaint cafe is a stone’s throw from Sensoji Temple and has to be tried for its wholly plant-based dishes.

It is a great spot if you are looking for gaudy whole-grain meals.

You will not find anything that lacks flavor despite the platter being entirely nutritious.

This very wholesome approach is what sets this café stand out from the rest of its kind.

The Farm Cafe is apposite for small parties.

However, if you are visiting in large groups, it is best if you come past the rush hours.

When here, we highly suggest you try out their tempura and fried soy meat.

The soy meat rice bowl that comes topped with delectably fresh salad is to die for.

Enjoy Fun With Panda Car At Hanayashiki Amusement Park

View of Hanayashiki Amusement Park

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Asakusa’s most adored amusement park is Hanayashiki!

Since its inception in 1853, this exciting wonderland has delighted children with its adorable panda mascots and memorable rides, like the famous Panda Car.

The Hanayashiki Amusement Park is under the care of the Bandai Namco Holdings subsidiary Hanayashiki Co., Ltd.

Locally located near Taito City, Hanayashiki spans an area of around 5,800 m², where you can go on a chilling adventure in its Ghost Mansion or enjoy various rides and games.

For experienced amusement park enthusiasts, visiting Hanayashiki is like taking a trip back through time to 1953!

View of Hanayashiki Amusement Park

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The park’s namesake attraction, Roller Coaster, is one of the oldest steel-tracked roller coasters globally (only one year younger than Brooklyn’s Little Dipper, the world’s oldest operational steel-tracked roller coaster).

Aside from the Roller Coaster, Hanayashiki has a vast collection of other rides that appeal to people of all different ages.

Helicopter and Sky Ship guarantee slow-moving elevated views above the park.

Kiddy Taxi also provides a lovely trip around the park.

View of Hanayashiki Amusement Park

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There are other thrilling rides, such as Disk’O’ and Space Shot.

All that becomes more fun with odd attractions like Thriller Car that fits in with its tacky ghost house themes during the ride itself.

And, of course, Panda Car shoots you upwards by how much money you insert into it.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Have a Kodak Moment at Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

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It goes without saying that while in Asakusa, you ought to have photographed yourself near Tokyo Skytree.

Depending on the nature of the shot you want, there are many places you can capture that perfect Kodak moment.

Soaring over a massive 634 meter, this impressive structure provides a faultless panoramic view of Kanto.

Getting here is not much of a task considering Tokyo Skytree Station is within reach of Tobu Skytree Line.

Ever since its inception, it has become a symbol of Tokyo.

Currently, only two observation decks of it are open to the public- at heights of 350 and 450 meters.

Standing on the glass floor section is a matchless experience itself- it makes you feel as if you are hovering in mid-air.

Final Thoughts

Asakusa is an amazing place for travelers of all ages.

Whether it’s seeing Cherry Blossoms or learning about Japanese culture, there are plenty of opportunities for you to have a great experience.

If you’re looking for more of an adventure, you can hop on a roller coaster at Hanayashiki Amusement Park or cruise around town on a suijo bus.

However, if you want more relaxation and gaudy whole-grain meals, head over to Farm Cafe and enjoy some traditional Japanese cuisine.

With many things to do in Asakusa, you’ll always find something worth checking out.

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