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last update: December 29, 2014
Very famous neighborhood in northern Tokyo, in the special ward of Taito. It is mentioned in any travel guide and is full of tourists because it is the home of the most famous temple in Tokyo, the Sensoji.

The neighborhood

The area of the temples

You enter through the Kaminarimon, an old gate which is a landmark of the district, after which there is a famous and crowded 250 m long street, the Nakamise dori, a street full of souvenir shops, and that intersects with another street full of shops, the Shin-Nakamise dori. At the end of Nakamise dori you can se the Sensoji temple in front of you. In the surrounding area you can also find the Asakusa Shrine, the Dempoin Temple and a photogenic pagoda. The Sensoji temple (6:00-17:00) and the Asakusa Shrine (always open) can be visited for free. The Dempoin is usually closed and can't be visited.

Kappabashi dori

Kappabashi dori is a shopping street dedicated to articles for restaurants, including shops of wax reproductions of food if you want to buy them as souvenirs.
There are also many little restaurants, if you have enough time you can have a walk there, it is about 1 km long.

Sumida River

East of Sensoji flows the River Sumida, one of the most important rivers in Tokyo. Along the banks of the river there is a park.
From any point along the river you will surely notice the majestic Tokyo Sky Tree and a very strange building shaped like a mug of beer, that's the Asahi beer headquarters building, one of the most popular beers in Japan. However there is nothing for tourists inside, except for a panoramic bar on the 25th floor.
From the riverside you can also take boats for a tour of Tokyo Bay or to get to the artificial island of Odaiba.
asahi beer tower in asakusa views from River Sumida banks

Bandai Namco headquarters

Near Asakusa, a few meters south of Asakusa station and of the area of Sensoji, there are the headquarters of Bandai Namco, a famous Japanese company of toys and videogames.
Do not confuse this place with the Bandai Museum, which is entirely different and is located elsewhere. There is virtually nothing to see or do in the building, which is not accessible except for the ground floor. Along the street outside the building you can see some giant statues of famous characters such as Doraemon, Ultraman and Kamen Rider.

Sleeping in Asakusa

In Asakusa there are a lot of ryokans and small family-run hotels, most of which are fairly cheap.

The two best ryokans in Tokyo are located in Asakusa: the ryokan Shigetsu and Sadachiyo.
A good ryokan located in a great position (along a side street of Nakamise Dori) is instead the Kamogawa ryokan, where you can sleep with about 5000/6000 yen. I also wrote a review of this ryokan.

Along the Sumida river there is the "Asakusa Riverside Capsule Hotel", with capsules from 2500 yen per night, and a floor only for women. This is one of the cheapest capsules hotels in Tokyo, and very "gaijin friendly", it's popular among foreigners.

This area is quite "dead" at night, so if your intentions are to enjoy nightlife you have to move to another neighborhood and then take a taxi to come back after midnight. Very quiet area, recommended to families.

Eating in Asakusa

The various foods of the myriad of stalls along the Nakamise dori are particular of Asakusa: various kinds of cakes and Senbei, rice crackers grilled with soy sauce.
I also point out the eel (unagi) restaurant "Irokawa", and the tenpura restaurant "Daikokuya". Both these restaurants aren't very cheap, a satisfying meal costs about 3000 yen. A cheaper (but not amazing) tenpura restaurant is "Sansada".
Tempura is one of the most popular dishes among the restaurants in Asakusa, you will find a lot of tempura restaurants around.

Pratical guide, how to get to Asakusa

Two metro lines serve Asakusa station, the Asakusa and Ginza line of Tokyo Metro.

Map of Asakusa, Tokyo

View Asakusa in a larger map
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Author: Davide Lee