Must-Read Guide Top 15 Ideas What To Do In Asakusa Tokyo

Tokyo, despite its ultramodern feel, has kept some of its charming Edo style. Asakusa and Ueno, located in Taito ward, are hidden away and almost sheltered from the bustling streets of Shinjuku and Shibuya in the east side. This guide includes a mix of 15 typical and very unusual ideas on what to do in Asakusa Tokyo.

Asakusa has remained very traditional and has a lot more to offer than the famous Sensoji temple. Read it right till the end so you can find out exactly what to do in Asakusa, where the old samurai spirit is still awake; day or night, rain or shine!

1. Sensoji temple – Day & Night (金龍山浅草寺)

For those of you who don’t know what to do in Asakusa, start with the most obvious landmark of Asakusa, Sensoji temple, painted in dragon flame-red. We both know you know it; and even if you know absolutely nothing about Tokyo, the chances are that you’ve seen Sensoji temple on Tokyo postcard pictures. Imagine being thrown to a time machine and landing a few centuries back in time.

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It always starts with a thought. What would it be like visiting another, unfamiliar to us place? 🌈 . [PL] Zawsze zaczyna sie od pomyslu. Jakby to było wyjechac do kolejnego, nieznanego nam miejsca? . There's always some adrenaline before the final decision is made – a few moments of hesitation, how we're going to cope, will we feel disappointed or enchanted by the new home and whether the locals will make us welcome. . Once you pack your bags, the adventure begins. Your new home might seem a little unfamiliar at first, then each day will make you feel more of a local yourself. Slow travel is what makes me go. Here, captured daydreaming and content about our stay in Tokyo, a beloved capital that's so unique in so many ways! . . This is one of the most beautiful temples I've ever seen ❤ . Photo credit: @6packtravels . Where is your favourite temple? 🏮 . #japon #tokyolife #tokyo #tokyo🇯🇵 #visitjapan #japaninstagram #explorejapan #ilovejapan #travelphotos #neonlights #asiatravel #travellingthroughtheworld #travelgram #traveladdict #travelbug #東京都 #インスタ映え #beautifulplaces #japonia #architecture #viajando #beautifuldestinations #fromwhereistand #potd #日本 #東京 #travelgram #traditional #shrine

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This is what visiting Sensoji temple is like. It dates back to 7th century, or more precisely, 628, where Tokyo was nothing more than an insignificant fishing village with no signs of overtaking previous capital cities in Japan. Legend has it that the fishermen built it for the goddess of Kannon, hence its alternative name, Asakusa Kannon temple. The moment you see it, you’re going to fall for it.

This colossal temple is recognised worldwide for its Thunder Gate, more known as Kaminarimon and the beautiful five-story pagoda, the Shinto Shrine, also known as the Asakusa Shrine or Asakusa temple. Make sure you walk through always busy Nakamise shopping street before you reach the five-story pagoda and Senso ji temple’s main hall, just behind Hozomon Gate.

It doesn’t matter when you visit Sensoji temple. It’s free to enter it and Sensoji temple hours are 24/7. Even the most rushed visitors can still visit it either daytime or night time, although personally I much prefer admiring Asakusa temple at night, the views are simply divine! Also, if you happen to be visiting Osaka, you should check out Shitennoji Temple, the older sister or Sensoji, which is just as impressive! For full information on Shitennoji Shrine and more on best things to do in Osaka, check out our article Top 10 Amazing Ideas on what to do in Osaka here.

2. Nakamise Shopping Street (仲見世通り) 

Initially we weren’t too keen on spending much time in Nakamise street but we quickly gave in. You’re going to miss out on a lot if you skip it, although you practically cannot skip it if you’re visiting Asakusa temple anyway!

Here’s a little intro for you about Nakamise Street, pronounced in Japanese as Nakamise Dori. This bustling shopping street stretches over 250 metres and it is home to many multigeneration families ever since the tourist market opened in 17th century.

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Don’t worry, Nakamise dori is far from being one of Tokyo tourist traps. It’s enjoyed by the Japanese tourists and Tokyo locals just as much as by the foreign tourists. I wouldn’t recommend it if we didn’t have a good time, either. First of all, Nakamise shopping street is busy till evening and it’s an ideal place to try some Japanese snacks and without sounding too cheeky, not paying for them.

Personally, I think Nakamise Dori is a great place whether you’re a foodie looking for ideas on what to do in Asakusa or simply want to feel the bustling atmosphere of the old Tokyo.

Of course, as you walk past the stands, you’ll notice some vendors selling some truly pointless things, whilst other shops sell beautiful Japanese chopsticks, fabulous quality Japanese fabrics, traditional Japanese shoes called geta, Maneki neko known as the good luck cat charms and folding fans, probably Asakusa market’s speciality!

Some of them are really outstanding, almost like a piece of art and they will go nicely with a yukata you might want to bring back home. We’ve also seen some Japanese drama or Kabuki-styled masks which were pretty fun to put on but maybe not necessarily to pack as a souvenir. The choice is much greater than in London Chinatown market and the quality is also incomparable, not to mention that the food section here is vast.

3. Try Traditional Japanese Sweets in Asakusa Tokyo

If you don’t have much in mind on what to do in Asakusa or simply can’t allocate much time to sightseeing, get a few Japanese sweets from here. Trust me, you shouldn’t leave Asakusa without trying at least some snacks. Asakusa is famous for its delicious mochi, anmitsu and red bean paste and many more.

Nakamise Dori is your ultimate destination for trying Japanese traditional snacks. You can try some of them for free; Asakusa and Sensoji area in particular seem to be a lot more generous with letting foreign visitors try their specialties without giving your that dirty look.

Delicious! You should try at least a few Japanese snacks whilst visiting famous Nakamise Dori. The tray in front of me is full of yummy matcha green tea and as you can imagine, we couldnt resist it!

Japanese food is phenomenal, we all know that. Why not make the most of it in Asakusa Market? You should try Awa Zenzai and Mochi Dango. They are quite popular, especially at Umezono selling traditional Japanese sweets. Dango sweets are extremely popular and even more so during cherry blossom season (remember to try the combination of white, green and pink, each one of them resembling seasons!).

Not to mention the Melon Pan, known as melonpan a sweet melon-flavoured bun that tastes absolutely insane and I could die for. If you’re not sure, look for the Japanese writing メロンパン. It is so good that you’ll regret not buying more so try it as soon as you get it. The queue shouldn’t put you off as it goes pretty smoothly.

I could have Melon Pan anytime, day or night! The cream inside is simply insane, I would be surprised if you managed to resist it!

If you go for the upgraded version with cream, you are never going to forget this flavour. Even right now I’m getting hungry just thinking about its crispy, melon-rich mellow flavour. The list goes on and there are many other Japanese snacks that barely contain any sugar if you don’t have a sweet tooth.

If you’d like to know more about trying the best Japanese sweets and snacks in Asakusa Tokyo, check out our article listing them all for you!

4. Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリ)

The list of things to do in Asakusa is long as we’re just starting. Although not exactly in Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree is one of the tallest buildings in the world and indisputably the tallest building in Japan, standing at 634m above the ground. Back in 2011, this splendid architectural wonder was added to the Guiness World Records for being the tallest tower in the world. It’s a 20 odd minute walk from Asakusa station in the direction of Sumida, crossing Azuma bridge.

I won’t lie to you, I’ve lost track of where it currently sits as there have been recent developments which have dominated Tokyo Skytree. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful experience and if you’d like to see Tokyo from a different perspective, Tokyo Skytree is going to guarantee you the breathtaking emotions, starting from going up in an elevator all the way to the top.

You can also see it from Asakusa as the views from there are probably the best; not too close to block the view of Tokyo’s surrounding buildings and not too far so you don’t lose the sight of Tokyo Skytree from where you stand.

Don’t forget to check out the beautiful Tokyo Solamachi shopping mall, it has a huge range of shops, from Western brands to themed toy shops to restaurants, not to mention the sensational views. There’s one particularly good hidden spot you shouldn’t miss whilst you’re there and it’s totally free to go up!

If you’d like to know more about the quickest way to purchase tickets for Tokyo Skytree and visiting time to get the best views, read our article here.

 

5. Mario Kart Tokyo experience

If you’re after some really cool ideas on what to do in Asakusa, this is the one. People are going absolutely crazy about Mario Kart Tokyo. We’ve seen quite a lot of it in Tokyo; mainly around Asakusa and Akihabara. It’s nuts, go karting all around Tokyo dressed up in Super Mario Kart costumes. Probably best if you’re in planning on touring Japan in a bigger group to stimulate the adrenaline rushing through your veins.

Shame I cannot tell you much about the experience since we couldn’t do it without having a Japanese driving licence or an international driving licence permit. My advice is, please learn from our mistake and come prepared if you want to have a blast at Mario Kart Tokyo.

Judging by MariCar users screaming their heads off in an uncontrollable excitement, I can say that to many visitors it’s probably one of the biggest highlights and definitely one of Tokyo unique experiences and it looks even better when the tradition of Senso ji Temple meets the gaming world, just like that.

 

6. Yukata and Kimono rental in Asakusa Tokyo 

To girls, I think we all have fantasised about that day when you get a Japanese geisha or maiko makeover. Japan is quickly moving on towards modernity but there are still a few places where the traditional look isn’t a thing from the past, like the obvious Kyoto or… Asakusa in Tokyo!

Asakusa temple is notorious for girls dressing up in yukata. For some reason this seems to be quite a common practice amongst girls from East Asia (not just Japan, I’m referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong , South Korea and definitely prevalent in numbers China) and South East Asia (from my observation it’s mainly Philippines). I must admit that dressing up in a kimono is by far one of the most exciting things to do in Asakusa, Kyoto or a town with long history and old Japan spirit.

You can never have enough of Sensoji Temple, whether you are here to try delicious Japanese sweets, snacks, shopping for friends and family or getting a full makeover. Whilst a lot of East Asian non’Japanese girls love to photograph themselves wearing kimono or yukata, Japanese girls in this picture absolutely love it too!

Before leaving for Japan I was researching things to do in Japan and for some reason I didn’t come any English travel guides for Japan listing this, instead sometimes they list some pointless places. Well, just so that you know, whilst you can easily have a geisha makeover almost anywhere in Kyoto, now you also know that you can do it in Asakusa for around 3,000 yen. That’s about 20 pounds.

There are quite a few independent stores offering yukata and kimono rental in Tokyo, with the vast majority in Asakusa. In fact, it’s more common to find a yukata, a summery version of kimono in kimono rental shops.

Your Japanese traditional dress will look very pretty for the memorable pictures and most importantly, for this unique Japanese experience. As our host in Osaka used to say: “Make Japanese memories!”.

If you’d like to know where to find the best kimono rental shops in Asakusa and Tokyo, read our full article here.

7. The Edo Tokyo or Tokyo Old Town

To get an authentic feel of Tokyo’s old spirit, wander around and even more, get lost around Shitamachi. Not many non-Japanese tourists know about it and they tend to crowd the most obvious spots that are now more touristy than traditional. It’s a great opportunity for those who know exactly what to do Asakusa but don’t know where to find it.

AMEYOKO

Ameyoko market, also known Ameya Yokocho (アメヤ横丁) is what Japan looked like shortly after WW2. Up until today, this nostalgic yet always busy market is bustling with crowds of people, many of them being Japanese, searching for good value, delicious Japanese street food and snacks. There are many stalls selling all sorts of Japanese products, from beauty, to dirt cheap branded apparel, to freshly caught seafood.

Since Ameyoko is Taito and it’s slightly closer to get to from Ueno than Asakusa, I explain it in more detail in our article top 10 cool ideas on what to do in Ueno Tokyo so make sure you check out our tips on what to try!

SHITAMACHI

One of them is Shitamachi which literally means downtown, shita means down or below and machi stands for town. It’s located on the east side of Sumida river so on the way to Tokyo Skytree and towards Ueno.

This part of Asakusa neighbourhood used to be rather neglected as Sensoji temple area was always in the centre of the attention. Hence why until Skytree was built, Mukojima or simply Shitamachi was known for being rather lower-rent area with lower-income people living there. Things have changed since Tokyo Skytree emerged from the flatland but so be quick to see the authentic, old Tokyo feel of Mukojima as it might transform in a matter of a few years.

Whilst both in Asia and Europe you can find the Old Town, this isn’t really the case for Tokyo and different parts of old, Tokyo Old Town can be found scattered around different wards. I can reassure you, though, that if Asakusa has the highest concentration of the old Tokyo look.

The main characteristics are small, narrow alleyways, stray cats, flowerpots on the streets near the house and small workshops and often ryokan housing, also present in another Shimatachi area called Shitaya or Iriya, between Asakusa and Ueno.

If you’d like to find out more about where to find the old Tokyo areas, read out article about where to find Tokyo Old Town areas.

EKIMISE

It’s not impossible to get the authentic feel of Old Tokyo if you know where to look for it. Ekimise is one of Tokyo’s hidden gems. There’s an actual underground shopping street in Asakusa near the entrance to Ekimise Shopping Centre. Asakusa Underground Shopping Street is in fact the oldest and still functioning shopping street in Japan. It’s truly nostalgic, knowing places like this still exist!

 

8. Experience Traditional Tokyo Onsen In Asakusa

No matter how nudity-averse you are, visiting a traditional onsen or sento in Tokyo is one of those Japanese experiences that cost virtually nothing and are absolutely priceless. You won’t encounter this unique and truly Japanese style bathing anywhere back in Europe or the US, and if you do, not easily. Asakusa and Ueno, both located in Taito ward of Tokyo, are great places to embrace the reminiscent Edo-feel of Tokyo.

It turns out you don’t have to look for Hakone onsen just to try a Japanese onsen. Japanese bath houses are all over Tokyo. The majority of them are sentos and only a few are real Tokyo onsen. Whilst it might look a little weird going in all naked and bathe with strangers, I can reassure you that doing it once will make you want to do it again and again!

 

I cannot tell you how relaxing is to be surrounded purely by Mother Nature (well, and a few other onsen-goers!).

 

There are at least a few in the area, one called Okame-yu sento and Jakotsuyu Sento. The former one is quite retro; it has kept its traditional décor since 1951 hand up until today it uses fire to heat up the water.

Jakotsuyu Sento is a little hidden gem of Tokyo and costs only 460 Yen (that’s £3, a bargain for the real onsen experience!).  It’s much closer to Asakusa station and it’s super traditional, and it’s not just a sento but an actual onsen with real hot springs (see the difference between onsen and sento here). It’s not so easy to find it, it’s not signposted and it is sort of hidden away from the main street.

Everything inside this Tokyo onsen is in Japanese and it’s quite unlikely you’ll find crowds of foreign looking tourists (at least not yet; maybe I shouldn’t be disclosing it!) but we created a video explaining what to do after you enter the building, including buying a ticket from a vending machine etc. Staff members do not speak English, just so that you know. Don’t be shy, add the onsen experience to your list of things to do in Asakusa, you are going to love it (eventually!).

Check out our video on how to find Jakotsuyu Sento and what it felt like before and after visiting Asakusa’s sento. Includes sneaky footage from the inside!

 

9. Get Your Totoro Toy From Ghibli Store in Asakusa

I hope that by now you’re a bit clearer on what to do in Asakusa. This one is a little more specific as you’ll probably need to be into Japanese anime and Ghibli works or you might find an inspiration in it. Visiting Asakusa will be a good opportunity to stock up on your favourite anime character merch! If you’re a fan of Ghibli works, then you’re in luck.

 

Adorable Totoro welcoming you to his Ghibli themed store. If you’ve never heard of it, do some research, the famous works of Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli are number one across Japanese generations. Watch it – you’ll get into it even if you’re not a fan of anime!

 

There’s a couple of places where you can buy your plush toys and favourite merchandise, including one by Kaminarimon gate and Donguri Tokyo. More in the article where to find Ghibli shop selling official Ghibli merchandise.

It saddens my heart knowing that there aren’t really any European destinations where you can get it from but hey, you’re in Japan so make the most of your trip in Japan and utilise all the remaining space in your suitcase if you have any left.

Tokyo is huge and you really need to know where to find the right shops without wandering around aimlessly for hours! Click here to find out more about where to find the themed shops of your favourite anime in Asakusa and Tokyo.

 

10. Asakusa Restaurants And Themed Cafes

It’s easy to combine Asakusa restaurants with some of the coolest themed cafes. Since you’re likely to spend in Asakusa at least good half a day, it’s good to know what are your food options.

THEMED CAFES

Asakusa is fun, it’s vibrant, colourful, traditional and … quirky! Well, that’s pretty much all of Tokyo and Japan anyway but there are tons of things to do in Asakusa, including some really cute themed cafes to check out. There’s a cat café, owl café, bird café and… panda café! Ok, the first three have real animals whilst panda café is a cute themed café which is ideal for grown-up kids like myself and kids.

Read our article on the pet cafes and themed cafes in Asakusa and Tokyo for more information.

HOPPI DORI & IZAKAYA  (ホッピー通り)

Let’s start with Japanese izakaya term; in case you haven’t come across it yet, it’s a Japanese-style pub. The food and drinks, however, seem to have a higher standard than the ones in the UK, including the wide range of freshly cooked food options. Asakusa is full of very reasonably priced izakaya concentrated around Hoppi Dori.

You should wander around Hoppi Dori to get the feel of the relaxed salarymen atmosphere in the evenings and eat in Izakaya restaurants at least a couple of times. On the weekends you can expect to see a lot more tourists and local Japanese families whilst weekday evenings are good to observe modern Japanese culture at its peak!

11. Old Japanese Culture – Tea and Ryokan in Tokyo’s Traditional Asakusa

Don’t worry about the slightest possibility of running out of ideas on what to do in Asakusa, especially into culture and traditional Japan. In Asakusa, you can try calligraphy, an art of drawing Japanese characters, traditional Japanese tea ceremony, already mentioned kimono rental, oiran makeover, rickshaw experience and more.

Japanese calligraphy is a form of art that involves writing Japanese characters. It takes years to master it and requires tons of patience. Sadly, my brush skills are limited to typing Japanese characters on the keyboard but that will hopefully change one day!

 

Since you’re in the most historical and traditional part of Tokyo (along with Ueno, you can read about Ueno here), you should get the feel of it here more than elsewhere. Asakusa is quite small in terms of size and many local businesses specialising in traditional Japanese culture activities are concentrated around here. Thanks to Asakusa’s picturesque scenery, you can almost forget you’re in one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world.

Otherwise, try to cram it all up elsewhere in Tokyo and you’ll probably struggle to find it unless you’re visiting the most significant cultural sights and even if you do, to book a free slot.

Ah, did I mention that you can also find Geisha in Asakusa? It’s not as common as it is in Kyoto so you’d have to be very lucky to spot them.

 

STAY AT A TRADITIONAL RYOKAN IN TOKYO OLD TOWN

Consider yourself lucky as staying at a ryokan is usually quite pricy, especially in Tokyo. Whilst ryokan accommodation is more common in resort towns, you are going to be paying premium for it because of its traditional feel. In Tokyo, usually you would need to stay at a luxury hotel offering ryokan experience.

Step back in time to feel what living in Old Tokyo was like. There are a few places in Japan still offering this type of accommodation and you can expect to pay premium for it. This is not necessarily the case for Asakusa Ryokan, though! Do I need to say more?

But that’s not the case in Asakusa. Since Asakusa is very a touristy place and luckily located in the East of Tokyo, the prices do drop. In Asakusa, you can go for the old ryokans, with some dating back to 19th century or stay at a luxury ryokan, it’s entirely up to you as you’ll be spoilt for choice here.

It’s a great type accommodation if you want to feel the old Japan. I cannot recommend it more! Read our article about where are the best ryokan in Tokyo to find the one for your stay in Tokyo.

12. Asakusa Rickshaw Ride & Cyclo Limousine

This is an alternative to those who have been refused to use MariKart or prefer something more traditional. If you don’t have a structured plan on what to do in Asakusa, this one is probably as charming as it can get when you are visiting the Old Tokyo in Asakusa. It’s impossible to miss the handsome and muscular Japanese guys in their twenties and thirties hovering around Senso ji temple with their retro vehicles.

They usually have pretty good English, or at least the ones we have spoken to seemed to have a good grasp of the language. We’ve seen them in Arashiyama Forest in Kyoto as well, however, they’re rather rare to find outside old, traditional and Edo-style places with large concentration of tourists.

One of the highlights of visiting Asakusa and the world famous Sensoji Temple, ride on a rickshaw!

Rickshaw men are often pulling triple of their own weight when carrying rickshaw – it’s all manual so full respect to the hard work to these guys. Tradition comes as a price so expect to pay between 2,000 yen for 10 minutes or 5,000 yen for 30 mins. You can expect a tour around Asakusa at the speed of light with occasional pictures.

 

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If you want to take it easy and choose the sightseeing based on your own preference outside of Asakusa, you should go for the tailor-made tours with Cyclo Limousine, designed for couples who want to celebrate special occasions in Tokyo. Whilst these tours are very popular amongst Japanese people, you can also make a reservation in English. 

13. Best Asakusa Views Over Tokyo Skytree and Skyline

 

ASAKUSA CULTURE TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER 

We couldn’t leave Asakusa without finding a few good viewpoints to see it from high up, or at least a few floors higher up that the ground level. Start with Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. It’s one of the tallest buildings in the area and stands out in terms of its cutting-edge architecture.

It’s free to enter, so why not. On top of that, you are guaranteed to see some picturesque views of Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Dori. Not to mention Tokyo Skyline. In fact, we were approached by one of the journalists from the Japan Times for an interview when we were checking out the views of Tokyo from the top of the building. You never know who you can meet there but it’s definitely worth a visit.

Although the glass contruction doesn’t fit the traditional look of Asakusa neighbourhood, it is easily recognisable, sitting across the road from the famous Kaminarimon gate of Sensoji temple.

TOKYO SKYTREE

Another obvious one already covered is the famous Tokyo Skytree right at the top of the page where the views are unbelievable; just remember to purchase your tickets in advance if you don’t want to queue up for a few hours to get in.

HARE TERRACE IN EKIMISE 

Hare Terrace is right on top of Ekimise which happens to be Asakusa’s largest shopping centre. Hare Terrace is on the rooftop so the views are excellent. Most people only know about the Asakusa Information Centre but as you can see, there’s more to it.  From there, you are bound to see the best of Asakusa, including undisrupted views of Tokyo Skytree.

Hare Terrace in Ekimise comes with the clocktower, a Shinto shrine and the viewing platform, a little bonus for going all the way up to the top.

ASAHI BREWERY

Many of you would simply skip this one or maybe would see it but only from afar. Wrong! Although it looks like a giant golden turd and it’s noticeable from afar, Asahi Headquarters are good option and won’t disappoint. Simply head towards the Asahi Super Dry Building and get the lift all the way up to 22nd floor to Asahi Sky Room Bar.

The visit is not entirely free as you will need to order a beer but the price won’t go through the roof and it’s one of the best spots to watch sunset over Tokyo. Not a bad deal after all, huh?

HIMIKO WATER BUS (水上バスヒミコ)

There are other forms of viewing Asakusa, including viewing Asakusa right from the bottom, cruising over Asakusa on a Hamiko Sea Bus or Tokyo Cruise. The Sea Bus goes all the way to Odaiba which is quite the opposite of the traditional Asakusa, nonetheless, an absolute must-see in Tokyo.

The design of Himiko Water Bus is more in-line with futuristic look of Odaiba. It was designed but the master of anime world Leiji Matsumoto who made it look like a vehicle out of this world. And he nailed it! Extra bonus points for Galaxy Express 999 inside the boat. Alternatively, you can try the Sky duck by Tokyo Skytree. No matter whichever option you choose, you’ll love it.

Check out our must-read guide with 10 cool ideas on what to do in Odaiba Tokyo for more insights.

As you can see, finding best views of Tokyo is by far one of my favourite things to do in Asakusa and Tokyo in general. You see so much more!

 

14. Geisha in Asakusa Tokyo

They’re fascinating, elegant, almost like butterflies, the moment you close your eyes they disappear, making virtually no noise. It was my dream to see them in Japan. And my dream came true. If you’d like to spot a geisha elsewhere than Kyoto, it’s going to be very challenging. Spotting a real Geisha in Tokyo is difficult enough!

 

 

Luckily, Asakusa is home to about 40 Geisha. Of course, this number is very little compared to what Asakusa pleasure district looked like back in 1930s and 1940s when there were hundreds of them in the area.

If you want a guarantee to see them, you should visit Asakusa during Sanja Matsuri Festival as Geisha are an integral part of this probably biggest festival in the whole year in Tokyo. I hope we’ve given you some inspiration on what to do in Asakusa and how to make the most of your time here!

15. Attend The Most Popular Tokyo Festival In Asakusa

Asakusa is always busy and it gets even busier during popular Tokyo festivals. The main ones are Sanja Matsuri in May, Asakusa Samba festival, Sumigadawa firework festival and the one I’m pretty sure you haven’t heard of but sounds particularly strange, Naki Sumo baby crying festival.

 

SANJA MATSURI (三社祭)

Considered to be the wildest party in Tokyo, Sanja Matsuri or Sanja Festival is held for 3 consecutive days on the third weekend in May, gathering no less than 2 whopping millions of visitors! Sounds like a fairly large party to crush, right? This festival is held to celebrate the men who founded Sensoji temple so as you can imagine, it’s quite a big thing in Tokyo.

Sanja Matsuri officially begins on Friday with Daugyoretsu parade. If you dreamt of seeing geisha and didn’t make it to Kyoto, don’t worry, there’s a very rare chance to see geisha in Asakusa shrine. Along with large hoards of dancers and musicians, mystical geishas revive the samurai Edo-spirit of Asakusa.

Come on Saturday to see 100 portable shrines called mikoshi and on Sunday for the final day with three colossal mikoshi brought out to the parade. It’s a pretty dear party seeing that each mikoshi is worth around 300 thousand pounds and weighs about a tone! I think you’ll agree that attending Asakusa festivals is of the most exciting things to do in Asakusa.

 

ASAKUSA SAMBA CARNIVAL 

In case you didn’t know, Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan which explains why Japan has very strong connections with Brazil. Asakusa Samba carnival is super-hot and it’s unique – you’ll see hundreds of sexy Japanese dancers in skimpy outfits dancing to sensual and rhythmic samba tunes.

Add to it the summer heat in August and 500 thousand visitors to crowd around the area surrounding Sensoji temple. It’s just sensational. Asakusa Samba carnival is held annually with just under 40 years of history, it poses a very fierce competition to Notting Hill Carnival in London!

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浅草サンバカーニバル💃🏼👯🥁 8月25日 第37回浅草サンバカーニバルが開催されました💃🏼👯🥁 #Asakusa #Sambacarnival #TokyoSkyTree #Tokyo #Japan #浅草サンバカーニバル #浅草サンバ #サンバカーニバル #平成最後の夏 #東京スカイツリー #スカイツリー #SkyTree #α7III #a7III #スカイツリーライトアップ #写真好きな人と繋がりたい #写真撮ってる人と繋がりたい #ファインダー越しの私の世界 #浅草 #淺草 #晴空塔 #東京カメラ部 #土曜日の小旅行 #けしからん風景 #広がり同盟 #インスタ映え #フォトジェニック #浅草サンバカーニバル2018 (๑>◡<๑)✨ @ken_tokyo.jp

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Except for, Asakusa Samba carnival seems to be a much safer option and is mainly Brazil-oriented. Not to mention that Asakusa carnival is by far a lot cleaner with barely any rubbish around and no-one trying to start up a fight for no reason. Sorry London!

Like with many festivals, Asakusa Samba festival hosts around 20 dance teams competing against each other for the title of the Queen of the Drums. All girls look out of this world, wearing excessive feather accessories, bright, seductive bikini-short costumes, Brazil-inspired makeup and in for the win.

Now think about all the Japanese creativity, including kawaii, robots and kabuki-styled choreography, all outside Kaminarimon gate, by Kaminarimon dori. It’s pretty difficult to see this unique combination outside Asakusa Samba carnival and it’s free!

SUMIGADAWA FIREWORK FESTIVAL

What’s considered annual fireworks Europe to celebrate NYE doesn’t necessarily apply to Japan that doesn’t limit itself to NYE fireworks. Quite the contrary, Japanese artists can show off their creativity a lot more often. So, if you fancy some mid-summer fireworks, Sumigadawa firework festivals should be on your radar. 

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第40回 足立の花火👘🎆 7月21日に開催された東京足立の花火です🎇 Adachi Tokyo 40th fireworks festival 🎆💫 暑い日が続いていますが、皆様体調を崩されませんようご自愛ください💦 #Tokyo #Japan #fireworkshow #fireworksfestival #日本の夏 #足立の花火 #北千住 #α7III #a7III #yukata #kimono #love_bestjapan #Japan_Night_View #art_of_japan_ #ap_japan_ #東京花火 #花火大会
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I don’t know if you know by now but Japanese love to take competition to the next level and pyrotechnicians often do it to the best of their abilities (gambatte spirit!) and try to outdo each other. Don’t be surprised (if you end up going and I strongly recommend it) if you feel a little lost in the crowds reaching over 1 million spectators, anyone would!

 

 

NAKI SUMO BABY CRYING FESTIVAL (泣き相撲)

Ok, this one is seriously weird. But, this is Japan, so you’d better embrace it! The Crying Sumo Festival, Naki Sumo or Nakizumo is something I came across only recently and didn’t really know what to make of it at first. This festival’s unique name derives from Naku ko wa sodatsu which means Crying babies grow fat. hopefully not to the size of an average sumo wrestler!

Here’s what this is all about; it’s a competition between one-year old babies (obviously not being aware they’re in the limelight of this unusual event) being dangled up in the air by grown up sumo. Whoever cries or laughs first, wins. Talking about the babies just for clarity. And if two of them happen to start crying at the same time, the winner is the baby with the loudest cry. 

Poor little ones! First, they’re high up in the air, then sumo wrestlers are yelling at them of pulling weird faces. And if the child is brave enough not to cry or smile, it’s their job to make them do it.

Westerners might definitely see it as an event full of cruelty but you should also see it from a perspective of the Japanese parents! Did you know that they do it to ward off demons, bad spirits and pray for baby’s health and development? I can somehow relate it to the christening where new-born babies cry their eyes out when the priest pours holy water over their heads.

 

Typically, parents pay no less than 15,000 yen (around £100!) for their baby to enter the competition so you can imagine why it’s so popular amongst Japanese people! Consider yourself lucky if you can even make it to the Crying Sumo Festival in Asakusa. This festival is usually held around end of April and is one of the biggest ones in Japan.

It attracts thousands of local Tokyoians and so far only well-informed tourists who have done thorough research but this festival is now spilling onto the mainstream thanks to more and more newspapers writing about Naki sumo baby crying festival! If you’d like to know where to see Sumo and Sumo tournament, check out article about what to do in Ryogoku Tokyo.

What are your thoughts on Asakusa? I hope that our must-read guide with 15 cool ideas on what to do in Asakusa Tokyo will come in handy when you are exploring this historical part of Japan. Leave a comment if you’d like to find out more about our experience or any travel tips. It will help us create good content for you guys and help other Japan lovers plan their trip accordingly!

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millennialtravelconfessions

millennialtravelconfessions

I'm Celina, the owner of this blog. Stick around if you want to know about exotic food, how to manage your expenses during traveling and find out more about the places that are worth quitting your job for! We write about our observations from traveling as a couple and hope we can inspire you to do what we are doing!

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