Asakusa and Sensō-ji temple, Tokyo

A bustling market district - and all roads lead to the Sensō-ji Bhuddist temple

Authored by James, 22nd May 2016



This is a great place to go on bad weather days. Ok, it's outdoors but you can have fun with umbrellas - and the thousands of other people... with umbrellas.

Asakusa is a district of Tokyo which hosts an impressive Bhuddist Temple - the Sensō-ji - plus all sorts of interesting street markets and indoor covered shopping streets.

It makes a great destination as a half-day trip from anywhere in Tokyo, as it's pretty central and right on the train line.

The name is pronounced more like 'asaxsa' - if that helps!

Itinerary

Take the train to Asakusa station via whatever the best line is for you.

When you leave the station, try to find the Kaminarimon Street exit, and you'll find yourself on a busy main road - there will be signs to Kaminarimon (Gate) or Sensō-ji so follow these.

A couple of hundred meters down the road you'll come across the Kaminarimon - one of the gates leading to the Temple. You can't miss it, it's huge. A big red and white gate topped with the traditional tiles and adorned with a giant paper lantern.

Throught the gate is the start of a long street market, selling clothes, shoes, souvenirs and all manner of food and drink - the Nakamise-dōri. It's fun to wind your way down this street, and there are stalls on both sides as well as down the middle. If it's raining you'll find yourself under a man-made roof of other people's umbrellas!

The street market in Asakusa leading to the temple - great fun!

The street market in Asakusa leading to the temple - great fun!

At the end of the street is another gate, the Hōzōmon - this one even larger and double roofed - and leads into a courtyard and the Sensō-ji temple complex.

You can explore all around the temple, so stop in at the Dragon fountain where you can wash and drink to cleanse yourself, and the temple shrine itself where people will be praying.

You can explore all around this area, but we can recommend that you step into the small temple gardens for a few minutes peace. These tranquil and typically Japanese manacured gardens are a relief from the hustle and bustle of the street market and the temple itself. There are some interesting plaques and noticeboards to read and learn about the history and purpose of the gardens. There's a 5-storey pagoda in the gardens, too.

The tranquil gardens beside the temple. Curiously few people seem to visit here.

The tranquil gardens beside the temple. Curiously few people seem to visit here.

The other side of the gardens we found a warren of small streets with interesting shops and tiny informal restaurants. There were lots of very colourful flowers and decorations for sale.

Asakusa's colourful back streets

Asakusa's colourful back streets

Afterwards you could wander back to the station via the streets on the other side of the Nakamise-dōri street market. Here you'll find some more nice back streets with good ramen restaurants - perfect for lunch.

Parallel to the Nakamise-dōri is an covered shopping street which leads back up to the main Kaminarimon street and the station, so it's a good place to explore if the weather is bad.

The indoor shopping street at Asaskua, this is parallel to the Nakamise-dōri street market

The indoor shopping street at Asaskua, this is parallel to the Nakamise-dōri street market