View of Tokyo skyline with Senso-ji Temple and Tokyo skytree at twilight.

Historic and Vibrant Asakusa

Asakusa is a district in Taitō, Tokyo, in Japan. Iconic to Asakusa is Senso-ji temple for being Tokyo’s oldest and one of the most significant temples. Right next to Senso-ji is the Asakusa shrine, a five-story pagoda, Asakusa Shinto shrine and the famous shopping area Nakamise-dōri. Sanja Matsuri is also one of the most anticipated festival in Asakusa.

Sensoji-ji Temple in Asakusa is the Tokyo's oldest temple.

Sensoji-ji Temple in Asakusa is the Tokyo’s oldest temple.

Reliving the history of Asakusa

Asakusa was an entertainment district during the Edo period (1603-1868), stemming from the neighboring district of Kuramae. Rice used as payment for servants of the feudal government at the time was kept in storehouses in Kuramae. These storage houses had keepers known as “fudasashi”, who were the main clienteles of the geisha houses and theaters in Asakusa.

Almost the entire twentieth century saw Asakusa as the major entertainment district in Tokyo. The “Sixth District” or Rokku was particularly famous for its theaters that featured the popular cinema Denkikan, the first dedicated movie theater in Japan. The Japanese novelist and short story writer, Yasunari Kawabata (June 11, 1899 – April 16, 1972), seamlessly described Asakusa’s golden years in his novel “The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa”.

During World War II, the area of Asakusa was heavily damaged by US bombing raids. After the war, rebuilding efforts immediately began. It became a ward of Tokyo city in 1947, merged with Shitaya to for the Taito ward and made it the vibrant metropolis it is today.

Places to explore in Asakusa

Nakamise-dori

Nakamise-dori.

Nakamise-dōri is one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan. The impressive Kaminarimon Gate in Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, marks the approach to Sensō-ji Temple and is also the entrance of Nakamise-dōri (仲見世通り). The famous street has all the signs of old world Japan: strolling down it is a great way to experience the Japanese culture and way of life.

Asakusa Hanayashiki (浅草花やしき) first opened as a flower park in Tokyo in 1853, when US Navy Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry visited Japan in the latter part of the Edo period (1603-1867). Nowadays, Asakusa Hanayashiki is known to be the oldest amusement park in Japan. It houses 20 types of attractions and eateries. It also has a wide selection of souvenir shops and other stores.