The standard for sightseeing and popular shopping & eating: Asakusa, fall 2017
Asakusa is a standard sightseeing spot in Japan, popular among foreign travelers as well. There are places such as “Sensoji Temple” and “Asakusa Hanayashiki” which are your standard spots, and there are also places like “Marugoto Nippon” and “BUNKA HOSTEL TOKYO” and more that are new to Asakusa. We enjoyed ourselves going shopping and eating in Asakusa, where good old Japan and new convenient facilities are all rolled into one.
The oldest temple in Tokyo, boasting 1,400 years of history — “Sensoji” Temple
Kaminarimon Gate (photo provided by Sensoji)
Our stroll around Asakusa started at “Kaminarimon (Fuuraijinmon).” The big red lantern with the words “Kaminarimon” is 3.9 meters high, and 3.3 meters wide, which is a perfect rendezvous point. It also makes a great photo spot. You may be captivated by the huge lantern, but the statues of Fujin and Raijin, with their strong facial expressions, standing on either side of the lantern are a must-see.
Hozomon (photo provided by Sensoji)
After passing through the bustling Nakamise-dori street, there is the “Hozomon Gate (Niomon).” Nio statues stand on each side of the magnificent gate, and when you walk through the gate, you will find shops on the right and left that sell amulets and oracles, and then in front of you, you will see the Hondo Main Hall with a giant lantern, 4.5 meters in diameter, hanging.
Omizuya (photo provided by Sensoji)
Jokoro (photo provided by Sensoji)
We wanted to make a prayer, but first, we had to observe the decencies by purifying both hands and mouth at the “Omizuya,” where there is a “dragon in black and white painting” on the ceiling, and a “Ryujinzo” statue made by Takamura Koun on top of the washbasin. Next, we went to the Jokoro, where we bathed in smoke and prayed for good health.
Hondo Main Hall (photo provided by Sensoji)
The beautiful main hall, with its hip-and-gable roof construction, has a front face of 34.5 meters and a depth of 32.7 meters. Inside, there is the Naijin (a place located in the center where the object of worship is enshrined) and the Gejin (a place outside of the Naijin, a place of prayer), and you can take off your shoes and get up on the Naijin. At Sensoji Temple, the Gokuden is the Naijin, and this is where we were able to feel close to the mercy of the Bodhisattva.
“Asakusa Hanayashiki”—where you can experience wearing kimonos at Japan's oldest amusement park
After going through the five-storied pagoda of Sensoji and Yakushido, it was about 3 minutes on foot to Asakusa Gate of “Asakusa Hanayashiki.” It is Japan's oldest amusement park, starting business in 1853. In the park, Japan's oldest roller coaster which started operation in 1953 is still active, there are 22 types of attractions, a fair stall, and shops that sell food and drinks, all overcrowding the place. In a nostalgic atmosphere, you will forget about the time and enjoy.
In front of the entrance gate “Asakusamon” gate, you will find Panda Café “Chanoka,” and on the 2nd floor, you can experience “Nadeshiko,” wearing a kimono and a tea ceremony. It is a step away from the bustling Asakusa allowing you to enjoy kimono and tea, which are also symbols of Japanese culture.
Nadeshiko plan (experience wearing a kimono and tea ceremony, green tea, sweets, certificate) 5,000 yen
*please book beforehand.
“Marugoto Nippon”—where you will find great food and local specialties from around the country
Next, we went to “Marugoto Nippon,” which opened in December 2015. It is a commercial facility where the fascinations of Japan have all gathered. The first floor is a shop where rich local seasonal foods are gathered, and the second floor has various tools, with everyday goods from different regions. The third floor is for events, where they have booths that introduce different towns and villages, and the 4th floor is a floor of restaurants where you can enjoy seasonal products and also the scenery of downtown Japan. If you can go to all 4 floors, it is like you have travelled all around Japan.
For example, at “Smile & Sweets” from Ehime Prefecture, their 100 percent natural juice made from Ehime produced citrus called “Jaguchikara Mikan Juice (orange juice from the tap, 380 yen)” is their specialty. We highly recommend the “Jaguchikara Mikan Taste Comparing Set (550 yen),” where you can drink 3 types of orange juice in small cups, since each citrus is from a different season, and then drink one type with a regular size cup. The day we went, we compared the tastes of “Kawachibankan,” “Natsumi,” and “Dekopon,” and chose “Natsumi” for its well-balanced sweetness and sourness. It was so delicious, we forgot about our tired feet from the walk.
At “Inaho Niigata” not only can you buy carefully selected Niigata produced rice, but you can also buy rice balls made from Uonuma Koshihikari Rice. The manager of the shop said, “I highly recommend the 'Shiomusubi (rice ball seasoned with only salt, 180 yen)' because you can taste the sweetness and umami flavor of the rice itself.” The second one he recommended was “Kagura Nanban Miso (220 yen)” which is spicy hot, a specialty of Niigata. We bought both as souvenirs.
“Contemporary Japanese-ness” is their concept “BUNKA HOSTEL TOKYO”
It is a 2-minute walk from “Marugoto Nippon.” “BUNKA HOSTEL TOKYO,” which opened in 2015, faces the Sushiyadori Street. The large dorm room with original bunk beds allows you to have privacy, and they are 3,000 yen and up which is affordable. Further, on the 1st floor at “IZAKAYA (bar) BUNKA,” there is a Japanese style verandah where it is open for those who are not staying in the dorms can also enjoy.
BUNKA hot pot (1,170 yen and up) and sake (350 yen and up for 90 ml)
At IZAKAYA BUNKA, they serve mainly sake, side dishes made from seasonal ingredients, and hot pots with carefully selected seasonal ingredients and first brewing of soup stock made from bonito and kelp. In a typical Japanese cleanliness and comfort, you can enjoy friendly communication with travelers from Japan and around the world.
●03-3842-0181 (9:30-16:00, except for Sundays and holidays)
●2-3-1, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
●6:00-17:00 (6:30-17:00 October-March)
●2-28-1, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
●10:00-18:00 (hours depend on season and weather)
●Closed when maintenance is needed *please call for details
●2-7-24 -2F, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays (except public holidays)
●2-6-7, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
(hours depend on shops)
“BUNKA HOSTEL TOKYO”
●1-13-5, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
●IZAKAYA BUNKA: Café 7:00-16:00 last order (last order for Sundays 15:30), Lunch 11:30-14:00 last order, Dinner 17:00-22:30 last order (Sundays 16:00-21:00 last order)
*The above information was last updated October 17, 2017. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
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