Tokyo - Asakusa
Asakusa is a must-visit neighborhood in Tokyo. It features some of the most prominent historical sights in Tokyo along with a relaxed atmosphere . It’s often dubbed mini-Kyoto since it’s one of the few places in Tokyo city with a traditional looking temple.
The area contains lots of small shops, a large Buddhist temple (Senso-Ji) and a famous gate (Kaminarimon). It’s often the first destination for tourists wanting to experience another side of Tokyo than the shopping/big city life of the Ginza, Shibuya and Shinjuku neigborhoods.
Kaminarimon, which translates as Thunder gate, is a good entry point to start exploring Asakusa. If you go through this gate you’ll be walking Nakamise street, a fun shopping street full of traditional souvenir shops. Keep walking straight to reach the Senso-ji temple.
I would recommend to sample some typical Japanese deep fried croquettes.
- How to get there: follow the signs from the Ginza line (G-19)
- Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Senso-ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It was completed in 645. The area around the temple contains a small garden, a five storied pagoda and some smaller buildings related to the temple.
The place is abundant with tourists - the temples are very nice looking but not very authentic. The best looking building in my opinion is the five storied pagoda - which looks just a little less cool when you know it’s a reconstruction from 1954.
Tokyo Skytree (Oshiage)
Asakusa is also home to the Tokyo Skytree, one of the biggest single standing towers in the world. You can go up Skytree for 2000 yen and enjoy a panoramic 360 view of Tokyo. In my opinion this was not enitrely worth it, but your mileage may vary. It doesn’t take long and if you have the money - why not? You’ll get to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Tokyo. If you’re lucky and the sky is clear you might even catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
Below the Skytree is a shopping complex which also includes an aquarium called Sumida Skytree Aquarium. It’s a rather small place but it does have some beautiful installations.
If you like aquariums and you’re only in Tokyo for your trip, do visit this place. If you’re doing a bigger Japan trip including Osaka I would recommend the super-awesome Osaka aquarium instead.
A.S.A.B stands for As Soon As Beerable. This nice bar in Asakusa provides you with a nice spot to sit, long after the nearby izakayas close. A.S.A.B. is easy to find as it’s essentially next to the Asakusa Don Quichote. Go there and enjoy a good selection of Japanese whiskey and many imported beers. For the brave, try the samurai-sized Asahi (1 liter).
- Address: 2-11-1 Asakusa (Hikaru building, 2F, next to Don Quijote)
Lunch at Byron Bay
Byron Bay is a cosy little lunch place that is very friendly to travellers. If you’re one of those people who only start their day at 11 AM this place is ideal for a late breakfast. The owner Noah speaks English and can provide you with travel advice, there is free WiFi and they have good coffee. What’s not to like?
It’s very close to the Khaosan World hostel, so if you’re staying there it’s definitely recommended.
- Address: 〒111-0035 Tokyo, Taito, Nishiasakusa, 3 Chome−2−12
Tokyo Knowledge is a traveller’s café run by 2 young guys named Yuki and Kyohei; they can give you tips for your Tokyo trip, hence the name of the café. They provide WiFi, chargers for devices and a computer to use.
- Directions: head west on Kaminarimon St. from Kaminarimon Gate for a few minutes
- Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku Asakusa 1-7-1 2nd Floor