28 Best things to do Asakusa in Tokyo’s Traditional Hub
by Coco Tran On September 19, 2023
Asakusa district is Tokyo’s portal to old Japan. Once an isolated village on the outskirts of Edo, today it remains a bastion of tradition amidst Tokyo’s seas of modernity. From ancient shrines and temples to modern entertainment, here are 27 Best things to do Asakusa in Tokyo’s Traditional Hub Asakusa bucket list:
Overview of Asakusa Tokyo & asakusa location
Located in Tokyo’s Taito ward, Asakusa radiates an old-world charm that is hard to find in Tokyo’s ultra-modern cityscape. The main draw is Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most celebrated Buddhist temple, established in 645 AD. Surrounding the temple is a delightful warren of narrow streets lined with traditional shops and restaurants.
20 Best things to do Asakusa in Tokyo’s Traditional Hub
Asakusa provides a tranquil escape from the busy streets of modern Tokyo, while still being very much part of the action. In addition to Sensoji Temple, top attractions include a riverside promenade with views across to Tokyo Skytree, the iconic Asahi Beer Hall, and the Sumida Hokusai Museum dedicated to the ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.
In This Article: Table of Contents
Top Things To Do in Asakusa Tokyo
1. Marvel at Senso-ji Temple: temple in asakusa
Founded in 645 AD, Senso-ji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest and most impressive temple. The massive vermilion Kaminarimon Gate with its enormous lantern is the iconic entrance to the temple complex. Beyond the gate stretches the bustling Nakamise Shopping Street with its colorful stalls selling souvenirs and snacks.
At the end of the shopping street you’ll find the main temple grounds and the striking Hozo-mon Gate. The temple’s five-story pagoda is a majestic sight along with the main hall whose balcony offers lovely views over the complex. Don’t miss the Asakusa Shrine on the left and the many statues of Jizo, protector of children.
Exploring Senso-ji Temple is a must-do, offering not just dazzling architecture but also fascinating glimpses into Buddhist worship and Japan’s religious history.
2. Indulge in Japanese Street Food
The streets around Senso-ji Temple are crammed with food vendors selling traditional snacks and treats. You can easily spend an hour strolling and sampling different street eats as you walk.
Queue up for freshly made giant taiyakifish-shaped cakes filled with sweet azuki bean paste. Pick up Imagawayaki, fluffy pancake-like balls filled with sweet azuki or custard. Or grab a mitarashi dango skewer with savory grilled mochi dumplings glazed in a sweet soy sauce.
Don’t miss the stalls selling kaminari okoshi, a crunchy rice snack mixed with peanuts and millet. Or try ningyo-yaki, bite-sized sponge cakes with sweet azuki filling shaped like dolls. Wash it all down with a refreshing cup of amazake, a sweet sake-based drink.
With so many delicious treats on offer, indulging in street food is one of the ultimate Asakusa experiences for your tastebuds.
Go on a food Tour in Asakusa with a guide and skip the lines!
what to do in asakusa
3. Drink on Hoppy Street
For an authentic local nightlife experience, head to Hoppy Street. This narrow alley is crammed with tiny standing-only bars and restaurants. Locals come here to drink cheap beer-like Hoppy and rub shoulders while eating yakitori skewers and other classic izakaya food.
The casual, lively atmosphere is the perfect way to spend an evening. Chat with fellow patrons as you sip beers and sample the various dishes like grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables. Don’t miss the chunky oden stew pots bubbling away at each bar.
Soak up the chatter and laughter as locals relax and unwind after work. For an immersive Asakusa night out, Hoppy Street can’t be beat.
4. Dress up in Kimono
What better way to explore historic Asakusa than by dressing up in kimono? Asakusa has many kimono and yukata rental shops where you can be transformed into a Japanese beauty from the past.
Most shops offer complete packages that include full kimono and accessory rentals along with hair and makeup services. You can choose from many colors and patterns before having photos taken in front of scenic backdrops. It’s a magical experience transporting you to ancient times.
Floating around Asakusa’s shrines and temples in full kimono rental is an unforgettable experience. Capture the memories with professional photos that make gorgeous souvenirs.
5. Ride in a Rickshaw
For a unique way to see Asakusa’s sights, go for a ride in a jinrikisha rickshaw. Men dressed in traditional clothing pull these two-wheeled carts designed for two passengers.
As you sit back and relax, your runner will pull you around Asakusa’s landmarks while chatting about local history and culture. Breeze by Senso-ji Temple, pass through narrow alleys, and stop for photos at scenic spots.
Rickshaw rides are available in 30 minute or 1 hour durations, letting you create a custom sightseeing experience. You’ll gain fun insights while supporting these traditional craftsmen.
6. Cruise the Sumida River
See Asakusa from a new vantage point by taking a cruise on the Sumida River. The river runs through the heart of the city, separating Asakusa from Tokyo’s newest landmark, Tokyo Skytree.
The Tokyo Cruise water buses connect Asakusa with Odaiba and make a great sightseeing trip. You’ll float by Senso-ji Temple, see the Tokyo Skytree soaring above, and pass under many colorful bridges as you relax on the open deck.
For the most scenic views, take an evening cruise when both shores of the river are illuminated. You’ll see Asakusa and Skytree light up magically against the night sky.
7. Go on a Go Kart Tour Dressed Up As Mario Characters
Experience one of Tokyo unique exprience and see Asakusa in the most fun way possible—in a go-kart, dressed up in a character costume from computer games, comics, or anime. Beat the crowds on public transport, and ride go-carts instead. You won’t have to worry about getting lost as you’ll be led by a guide
8. See Sanja Matsuri
Each May, Asakusa erupts into Tokyo’s biggest, wildest festival for Sanja Matsuri. The three-day event attracts over 1.5 million visitors who come to see the rowdy portable shrine parades.
The festival is hosted by Senso-ji Temple and honors the three men who founded it in the 7th century. Over 100 mikoshi shrines are carried through the streets accompanied by musicians and chanting devotees amidst crowds of revelers.
Sanja Matsuri is full of deafening, chaotic energy. If you missed it, the smaller Hozuki-ichi market in July also offers a lively Asakusa festival experience.
asakusa things to do
9. Shop on Kappabashi Street in Asakusa Tokyo
Kappabashi Street near Asakusa is a chef’s paradise famous for its kitchenware shops. But it also offers one uniquely Japanese experience: browsing stores full of fake food models.
These strikingly realistic models are made from wax or plastic and displayed outside restaurant doors. Kappabashi is where Tokyo’s restaurants buy their models, with entire stores dedicated to their mind-boggling array.
The craftsmanship will amaze you as you marvel over perfect sushi or cake replicas. Don’t miss buying souvenir magnets or keychains designed like tempura shrimps and beer.
10. Play at Hanayashiki in Asakusa Tokyo
Travel back to old-time Japan at Hanayashiki, a retro amusement park opened in 1853. This small carnival-style park has classic rides like a rickety wooden rollercoaster, carousel, and Ferris wheel.
Play carnival games like scooping up balloons or goldfish to win prizes. See acrobatics shows and magic tricks at the outdoor stage. And don’t miss the haunted house and ninja experience.
With entertainers in old costumes, game booths stuffed with toys, and charming nostalgic theming, a visit to Hanayashiki is a magical journey into Japan’s past.
11. See a Rakugo Show in Asakusa Tokyo
For traditional Japanese entertainment, attend a rakugo storytelling show. These comedy routines date back to the 17th century, performed by a lone storyteller on a simple stage.
Asakusa Engei Hall and Suehirotei theater host multiple rakugo shows every day. You won’t understand the Japanese language, but can still appreciate the humor and dramatic storytelling.
The two-hour shows also feature other traditional performances like magic, juggling, and traditional dance. With an affordable entrance fee, it makes a budget-friendly night out.
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12. Visit Tokyo Skytree in in Asakusa Tokyo
Visible across Asakusa is Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower at 634 meters high. Cross the Sumida River and be dwarfed by this incredible broadcasting tower and its ultra-modern architecture.
Soar up 450 meters to the two observation decks for unmatched 360-degree views over all of Tokyo. On clear days you can see Mt. Fuji! The upper deck even has a glass floor for dizzying views straight down.
At the tower’s base is a massive shopping and dining complex, Solamachi, with hundreds of stores and restaurants. Don’t miss visiting this engineering marvel.
13. Explore Asakusa Yokocho Street Food
On the upper floors of the Rakutenchi Building is Asakusa Yokocho, a fun new dining complex opened in 2022. The restaurants here specialize in Japanese classics like takoyaki and yakitori fresh from the grill.
Relax over drinks and food while watching live performances like Awa Odori dance shows and drummers parading through the tables. Kids will love the game arcade and darts bar.
After eating, head downstairs to shop at massive UNIQLO before walking one block over to see Senso-ji Temple’s Soaring Dragon Lantern.
14. Bathe at an Onsen in Asakusa Tokyo
After a long day sightseeing, relax at one of Asakusa’s traditional onsen bathhouses. Here you can soak away aches and pains in soothing mineral waters just as Japanese have done for centuries.
Choose from modern onsen facilities like Decks Tokyo Beach’s ocean-themed baths or Asakusa Kannon Onsen’s temple mural bath. For old school authenticity, visit Jakotsuyu with its wooden tubs full of milky hot water.
Bathe in your birthday suit as is the custom before emerging refreshed and rejuvenated. Don’t forget to reward yourself with a cold beer or sake afterwards!
15. Take a Food Walking Tour in Asakusa Tokyo
The best way to dive into Asakusa’s famous food scene is to take a guided walking tour. Over 3-4 hours a local expert will lead you to the area’s top street food spots, markets, and restaurants.
You’ll learn about Japanese cuisine while sampling authentic specialties like sushi, tempura, and sweets as you walk. Some tours even include a relaxing rickshaw ride to aid digestion!
With a guide to translate and explain, food tours are ideal for first-timers who want to easily discover Asakusa’s culinary highlights. Your tastebuds will thank you.
asakusa tokyo things to do
16. See a Ninja Show at Ninja Restaurant in Asakusa
For family-friendly entertainment, watch a ninja show at Ninja Trick House. Talented acrobatic actors will demonstrate ancient ninja skills like throwing stars, swordsmanship, and backflips.
Kids and kids-at-heart can also try throwing ninja weapons themselves in the dojo under instruction. You’ll come away with a new appreciation for ninjas after testing your own (likely feeble) martial arts abilities!
Multiple shows run daily and include humorous storylines with audience participation. It’s the perfect activity for ninja fans visiting Asakusa.
17. Sumo Morning Practice in Asakusa Tokyo
Just a subway ride away from Asakusa is the Ryogoku district, heart of Japan’s ancient sport of sumo wrestling. Here you can watch an authentic morning practice at a sumo stable and glimpse the wrestlers’ extreme training regimen.
As you sit ringside, the giant rikishi will stretch, lift weights, grapple each other and slam down in practice matches. The two-hour experience includes explanations of sumo traditions from a former wrestler.
This rare behind-the-scenes look will give you newfound respect for sumo and its highly disciplined athletes.
18. Make Your Own Doll in Asakusa Tokyo
Japanese dolls are intricate artworks valued for centuries. At a hands-on workshop, you can craft and take home your own silk Japanese doll, known as an ichimatsu.
Master craftswomen will teach you how to create the body, dress, wig, and face for a traditional doll using techniques unchanged since the Edo Period.
After bowing to your new doll to grant it a soul, you can dress up in a silk kimono for a memorable photo op together. Located near Senso-ji Temple, it makes for a unique Asakusa experience.
19. Sumida Park Cherry Blossoms in Asakusa Tokyo
Come springtime, the riverbanks of Sumida Park become awash in pink cherry blossoms. Over 700 sakura trees line both sides of the Sumida River, creating one of Tokyo’s best hanami party spots.
The blooming season in late March to early April draws huge lively crowds for cherry blossom viewing parties. Food stalls, vendors, and entertainment create a carnival atmosphere under the billowing pink canopies.
Time your visit right to enjoy Asakusa’s beauty during sakura season. Just don’t forget your blue tarp!
20. Eat at Historic Restaurants in Asakusa Tokyo
Asakusa restaurants boast not just great food but decades of history and tradition. Some eateries in business for centuries offer windows into Tokyo’s past.
Dine at historic soba noodle shops like Otafuku opened in 1829, try charcoal-grilled eel at Komagata Dozeu from 1801, or enjoy tempura at Shigemori Ishinohashi dating from 1781.
Between the retro decor, traditional dishes, and old-school hospitality, these venerable eateries take you back in time as you savor Japan’s culinary heritage. It’s the perfect way to round out your ultimate Asakusa experience!
21. Shop till you drop on Nakamise-dori in Asakusa Tokyo
Lined with over 90 traditional shops and stalls, Nakamise-dori connects Kaminarimon Gate with Sensoji Temple. Pick up souvenirs like Japanese fans, masks, dolls, and snacks as you soak up the bustling atmosphere. Try local delicacies like kibi-dango (sticky millet dumplings), ningyo-yaki (filled pancake cakes), and imagawayaki (red bean pancakes).
Insider tip: Go early in the day to avoid the largest crowds and get the freshest food.
22. Snap pics at the Asahi Beer Hall in Asakusa Tokyo
Even if you aren’t a beer lover, the Asahi Beer Hall is worth seeing for its unique architecture. The golden flame sculpture rising from the top of the building has become an iconic Asakusa sight. Capture the perfect picture in front of the Asahi logo and the futuristic Tokyo Skytree in the background.
23. Browse kitchenware on Kappabashi-dougugai in Asakusa Tokyo
Nicknamed “Kitchenware Street”, this shopping promenade is paradise for aspiring chefs. Browse stores selling professional-quality cooking utensils, ceramic ware, knives, and more at wholesale prices. Look out for realistic plastic food models like you see displayed outside restaurants.
24. Immerse yourself in art at Sumida Hokusai Museum in Asakusa Tokyo
Fans of Japan’s most celebrated ukiyo-e artist, Katsushika Hokusai, will love this museum dedicated to his life and work. See over 1000 examples of his sketches, woodblock prints, and paintings in the permanent exhibition. An interactive area lets you try your hand at recreating Hokusai’s iconic Great Wave off Kanagawa. Don’t miss the amazing digital room projection shows.
25. See Asakusa’s biggest festival
If visiting in mid-May, you’re in for a treat with the Sanja Matsuri, Asakusa’s most spectacular annual festival. Join the crowds following mikoshi shrines carried by whooping bearers along the streets, accompanied by lion dancers, musicians, and lanterns. Don’t forget to sample street food like chocolate-covered bananas as the party goes on late into the night.
26. Be transported back in time at Asakusa Shrine
Nestled next to the bustling Sensoji Temple complex, you’ll find the serene Asakusa Shrine, also called Asakusa Jinja. This special spot is one of only two buildings that survived WWII bombing and thus remains an invaluable cultural treasure.
As you pass through the bright red entrance gate, you can instantly feel the nostalgic atmosphere transporting you back to a quieter, more peaceful time in Tokyo’s history. Take a moment to soak up the tranquil vibes.
Make sure to see the elaborate portable mikoshi shrines stored here, which get paraded through the streets during the wild annual Sanja Festival. Watching the teams of devotees in happi coats shouting and chanting as they bear the heavy shrines on their shoulders is quite a sight!
With its secluded courtyard and smoke wafting from the incense burners, Asakusa Shrine offers a perfect respite from the sensory overload of modern Tokyo.
27. Indulge your matcha craving at Suzukien Asakusa
Calling all matcha lovers! I’ve got the perfect spot for you to get your green tea fix in Asakusa. Make a beeline for Suzukien Asakusa for their incredible selection of matcha gelato – it will blow your mind!
You won’t find too many places in Asakusa offering so many matcha varieties all in one spot. At Suzukien, you can choose from seven intensities to suit your desired level of bitter or sweet. Hardcore matcha enthusiasts can try Level 7 for a super intense herbal flavor, while matcha newbies can opt for the more mellow Level 3. The combinations are endless!
If you really want to tantalize your tastebuds, try pairing the intense Level 7 with the sweeter Level 5 for a swirl of flavors in each spoonful. Trust me, the mix of bitter and sweet is sheer bliss.
No matter your matcha preferences, Suzukien Asakusa has the perfect scoop waiting for you. Don’t leave Asakusa without stopping by this matcha paradise!
28. Savor the freshest unagi eel at Unatoto Asakusa
Looking for an exciting Japanese food experience in Asakusa? Make a beeline for Unatoto Asakusa to try their incredible grilled freshwater eel, known as unagi.
While eating eel may seem unusual, it’s actually a delicacy here in Japan. Locals believe unagi boosts vitality – and it definitely tastes amazing! Of all the unagi spots in Asakusa, Unatoto is hands-down the best.
Their top-selling Unagi Freshwater Eel dish is a must-try, featuring succulent cuts of eel glazed in the most mouthwatering tare sauce. You’ll be hooked from the first bite. Prices range from 500 to 1500 yen, depending on the size of the cuts.
Don’t leave Asakusa without getting your unagi fix at Unatoto for the freshest, highest-quality grilled eel. This exciting Japanese dining experience will satisfy your tastebuds and your curiosity!
28. Slurp up award-winning ramen at Ippudo
Get ready for the best ramen of your life at Ippudo in Asakusa! This famous ramen shop has perfected the art of ramen over the past 30 years. With over 100 locations across Japan, it’s easily one of the top dining spots in Asakusa.
When you see the vast array of ramen options on the menu, you’ll be spoiled for choice. For spicy ramen lovers, their signature Ippudo Karaka Ramen hits the spot with its tantalizing chili oil broth. Or try their classic Akamaru ramen – the rich, umami miso broth with tender pork belly is next level.
Don’t forget to order some gyoza fried dumplings on the side! Crispy and juicy, they’re the perfect pairing with your noodles.
At just 950-1040 yen per bowl, Ippudo is a total steal. Plus, you get complimentary water and iced tea with your meal! From the first slurp of those perfectly cooked noodles, you’ll see why people rave about Ippudo being the ramen king of Asakusa.
Getting to Asakusa tokyo Directions
Asakusa is well connected to central Tokyo by train and subway. Take the Ginza metro line to Asakusa Station or Tawaramachi Station to reach the heart of the district. Alternatively, you can arrive via the Tobu Skytree line at Asakusa Station. From here, major sights like Sensoji Temple are just a 5-10 minute walk away.
Explore Asakusa’s Hidden Gems
Beyond the main attractions, Asakusa has some quirky hidden finds too. Here are my top 3 secrets:
- Hanayashiki – Tokyo’s oldest amusement park with vintage rides like Japan’s oldest wooden rollercoaster.
- Hoppy Street – Retro bar street where you can relive the 1950s over hoppy beer and yakitori chicken.
- Kappabashi – Kitchenware heaven with shops selling professional cooking equipment and fake food models.
Insider Tips for Making the Most of Asakusa
- Asakusa gets super crowded, especially on weekends. For a more tranquil experience, visit early morning or late afternoon.
- Many shops and restaurants are closed on Wednesdays, so double check opening times.
- Sumida Park along the riverside has over 700 cherry trees. It’s arguably the best sakura spot in Tokyo come late March-April.
- Asakusa has lots of narrow streets without sidewalks. Watch out for passing bicycles and rickshaws!
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