Manatsu’s Guide to a Traditional Japanese Experience in Asakusa
Have you ever been to Asakusa? Famous for the Sensoji Temple, Asakusa is one of the most popular spots in Tokyo to visit for a nice insight into the more traditional side of Japan, and it’s also a short walk to the Skytree Tower.
In this article, I’d like to introduce a few of my recommended spots for a day in Asakusa!
Now that it’s summer, you’re bound to see plenty of people wearing beautiful, colorful yukatas. This is a traditional garment that is often worn in the summer. In Asakusa, you can rent your own for the day!
I went to a little shop called Koto, located less than a minute from Asakusa station. The old man and women that run the store are extremely nice and friendly, and they will do their best to communicate with foreign customers as well.
There are plenty of different designs that you are free to choose from, and they will dress you up and even do your hair (although it costs slightly more, I would say it’s definitely worth it! They were very skilled and accommodating to every type of hair, and there are tons of adorable hair accessories to choose from.)
【Asakusa Kimono Rental Shop KOTO】
One great thing about this shop is that there is no time limit, so if you rent it earlier in the morning, you can walk around Asakusa all day in your yukata as long as you return it by 5pm!
However, there is a chance it’ll take quite a while if there are a lot of others waiting to have their yukata put on, so keep that in mind if you’re in a rush!
Cost: 3,000yen with hair set
＜ONLY IN JAPAN＞☆5.0
【Sensoji Temple & Nakamise-dori】
Now that you’ve got on your beautiful yukata, it’s time to head to the main attraction: Sensoji Temple! On the way there, you’ll pass through a long street (250 meters!) with tons of shops on either side. This is called the Nakamise-dori, or Nakamise Street, and is the perfect place to buy souvenirs or have some Japanese snacks.
As you can see, it can get a bit crowded, especially toward the entrance. My suggestion is to walk closer to the sides, where you can duck into any interesting shops easier without having to push through the sea of people!
These stores sell everything you could want if you want to take back a little memory of your trip. Keychains, fans, kimonos, decorations, shirts, traditional clothing, and much more.
And of course, one of my favorite parts is grabbing a few snacks to eat! Most of these are great for tabe-aruki, which literally means “eat walk.” They are hand-held foods so that you can continue sightseeing while enjoying some delicious Japanese treats! In some shops, you can even watch them being made from outside.
＜ONLY IN JAPAN＞☆5.0
In front of it, you’ll see people gathering around a large cauldron of incense, wafting the fumes onto their bodies and head. This is done to be healed, and it is also said that by bringing the smoke to your head, you will become smarter!
There is also a small fountain to the side of the incense, another way to purify yourself before entering the temple. There is a very specific way to do this!
1. Hold onto the ladle with your right hand, and rinse your left hand with the water.
2. Repeat with your opposite hand.
3. Hold onto the ladle with your right hand again, pour water into your cupped left hand, rinse your mouth with it, and spit the water onto the ground.
4. Hold the ladle vertically and allow the water to run down the handle, cleansing it.
On either sides of the cauldron, you’ll see people drawing omikuji, which are written fortunes. There are instructions in English, so give it a try and see what your fortune is!
Now, you’re finally ready to enter the main temple. Toss in a monetary offering (it is said the 5 yen coin is best for good luck!), and make a prayer.
＜ONLY IN JAPAN＞☆5.0
After getting your yukata put on and wandering around Nakamise, it’s time for lunch! There is a famous tendon restaurant nearby called Daikokuya (大黒家), so head there for some delicious tempura!
The store has both a tatami-style, where you take off your shoes and sit down, and a normal table. The people of the restaurant were very nice and explained the menu (which there is an English version of!) carefully to the foreign visitors.
I chose the tendon with two shrimps, vegetables, and kakiage, which is mixed fry. The tempura was soaked in a delicious sauce, and despite being full, I couldn’t help but finish every bite!
＜ONLY IN JAPAN＞☆3.0
After the tendon, I needed something sweet for dessert.. So I headed to a little shop popular for its taiyaki and shaved ice! Taiyaki, a red-bean filled fish-shaped cake, is one of my favorite snacks.
If you go inside, you can also see it being made! This shop makes each taiyaki one by one with care.
Personally, I love taiyaki the most when the outside is thin and crispy, and this did not disappoint! It had just been made instead of sitting on display for a long time, so I was able to enjoy it nice and warm.
＜ONLY IN JAPAN＞☆4.0
I hope you were able to enjoy my trip for a day at Asakusa! There’s still so many more things to do around Asakusa such as riding a rickshaw and going into the little side streets. I’ve gone to Asakusa so many times, but it never gets boring!
In the next article, I’ll be introducing you to the works behind Japan’s famous fake food samples, so stay tuned for that!