Travelogue: Exploring Tokyo’s Historic Asakusa District

Japan ZujiSightseeing

I was flown to Tokyo, Japan, by United Airlines. This is the eighth in a series of travelogues based on his trip to the Japanese capital.

Tokyo is a very modern city, but there are a few pockets of history where ancient neighborhoods have managed to survive the ravages of progress and time. Asakusa is one such neighborhood.

Asakusa is located in what is known as Tokyo’s Shitamachi, or “low city”. The main attraction is Sensoji, a Buddhist temple that was built in the seventh century. It is one of Tokyo’s most popular and colourful temples.

According to legend, two brothers that went fishing in the Sumida River in the year 628 reeled in a statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Even though they tried throwing the statue of the Goddess of Mercy back into the Sumida River, Kannon kept coming back to them.

As a result of this miracle, Sensoji was build nearby. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple.

Red Light District

Asakusa was long Tokyo’s most popular entertainment district. During the Edo Period (1603 – 1867), Asakusa was home to both kabuki theatres and a large red light district. Now it is full of shops selling souvenirs, clothing, and handicrafts as well as restaurants, cafés, and pubs.

A 200 kilometer strip called Nakamise Shopping Street runs from the main gate of Sensoji to its second gate. It is lined with small shops selling everything from Japanese snacks to paper fans to T-shirts.

I reached Asakusa by Water Bus after exploring Hama Rikyu Park. The voyage took about 45 minutes and cost 720 yen, taking me under several bridges.

When I arrived at Hinode Pier in Asakusa, I noticed a gaggle of rickshaw pullers hustling their services. I couldn’t resist the temptation so I approached a puller and asked the cost. He showed me a rate sheet. A 10 minute ride was 2,000 yen for one person and 3,000 yen for two persons.

I decided on a 20 minute ride, having no idea what the exchange rate was. As it turns out, I paid US$50 for that 20 minute ride, but it was money well spent.

While in the district, I strolled overly the the newly opened Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower. Judging by the lines, it must be the hottest attraction in Tokyo!

To Be Continued

For More on My Adventure in Tokyo, Japan

  • Flight Review: United Airlines Club Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport
  • Flight Review: Business Class, United Airlines, Hong Kong to Tokyo
  • Travelogue: Arrival in Japan at Tokyo Narita International Airport
  • Travelogue: a Stroll Through Hama Rikyu Park in Tokyo, Japan
  • Restaurant Review: Kazahana at the Conrad Tokyo in Japan
  • Hotel Review: Conrad Tokyo Offers Great Views, Great Food, Great Location
  • Japan: Tokyo Sky Tree Soars 634 Meters, Offering Great Views Travelogue: Sightseeing in Tokyo, Japan, by Water Bus and Rickshaw

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