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A lovely laid back neighbourhood in contrast to the very intense Tokyo city. If you are like us who stayed in Tokyo for a few days and then moved to Asakusa for a respite, you can immediately feel the difference. Asakusa is also Japan’s oldest geisha district. Unforturnately, I did not meet any while I was there. There are less skyscrapers here than in most Japanese towns. Houses are old but yet evokes a tinge of nostalgic charm of the old days. Traditional rokyan and plenty of guesthouses around – a ideal area for backpackers. Numerous small alleys are dotted with neat rows of little shops and cafes/restaurants of all kind of cuisine. I actually got lost while going through these alleys looking for the guesthouse we were staying.
We stayed at Khason Tokyo Laboratory, about 10 minutes walk from Sensoji Temple. Conveniently located with many cafes and restaurants nearby. Served by 2 subways – Ginza and Asakusa lines. I have written a review on Khason. Read here.
The main draw for tourists who come here is, I reckon, the Sensō-ji ((金龍山浅草寺), a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple with a massive area where the locals come to pray for good blessings and for tourists – another attraction in the list.
Before the entrance to the temple is the Kaminarimon or “Thunder Gate”. A massive paper lantern in vivid red and black tones. No tourist comes here without taking a shot at this imposing structure. If you want to take a good picture without the human beings, come as early as 7 am.
Nakamise-dori (仲見世通り?) – located at just after Karimarimon is about 250 meters and around 89 shops selling from traditional sweets, t-shirt, Buddhist strolls, miniature Kaiimarimon lantern and the list goes on. Kind of commercialised, I notice. If you are looking for small present, this may a nice place to browse. Be forwarned that this area is narrow and the crowd is never ending.
Of course there will be food where tourists are. Plenty of eateries around. Snacks and street vendors dotted the area. We wanted to try the famous Daikokuya Tempura restaurant but the queue was overwhelming. Decided not to waste our daylight hours and forgo the idea.
If you still have the energy after the long walk around Sensoji. Tokyo Skytree is just a train stop away(Tobu Iseaki line). Another huge popular tourist spot. We did not go up the Skytree because the queue was very long. Another reason was cost. Hanging around the area was okay for us.
There is a shopping mall called Tokyo Solamachi at the base of Tokyo Skytree. Features more than 300 stores offering anything from food to Tokyo crafts. The complex also houses a large supermarket with all its super fresh seafood on display. I am particularly interested to visit supermarket if there is one though more often than not , I do not make any purchase.
In retrospect, I am glad I had made the decision to stay in Asakusa even it was just 2 nights. By the way, I am quietly just making a mental note to come back …….