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Asakusa: A guide to Tokyo’s traditional and spiritual downtown

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By Jessica Esa

A little slice of traditional Japan within Tokyo, if you want to get lost in some history and explore the old shopping streets or famous temples and shrines in the city, then a day in Asakusa is exactly what you need.

It’s a place where culture meets contemporary. From rickshaws going by to people dressed up in traditional costume to modern art statues that make you look twice, a wealth of photo opportunities open up to you in Asakusa.

What’s more, it’s a street food hub and it hosts some of the most tempting shops in the city if you love Japanese arts and crafts.

The best way to explore Asakusa? On foot, getting lost, wandering down side streets, and dipping into pockets of tradition and culture.

History and Background

Asakusa’s cultural history has remained intact and the area is still a shining example of Tokyo’s rich history.

The story of Asakusa begins with Senso-ji Temple, built in the 7th century. Today, this enormous and impressive Buddhist temple is still the main draw to Asakusa for both locals and tourists.

However, during the Edo period, in the shadow of Senso-ji’s holy Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the area grew as an entertainment district and was soon enough filled with theaters, geisha houses and all the debauchery that went with it.

Unfortunately, Asakusa was severely damaged by U.S. air raids during World War II and, as a result, the entertainment of Tokyo shifted to areas like Harajuku and Shinjuku. Today, it’s the local restaurants, parks, shrines, and the central Senso-ji Temple that provide the bulk of the entertainment.

Things To Do

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© Savvy Tokyo

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

2 Comments
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Asakusa is one of the first places I would take any Tokyo newbie. We go there every time we come to Japan - it just has that perfect mix of must-see sights and retro atmosphere.

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I stayed in Asakusa for the first time this summer and absolutely loved it. It's a great area.

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