How to Enjoy Strolling Along Nakamise Dori Street of Asakusa
Shopping in Shibuya and Harajuku is surely fun. But if you are also in search of a more genuine Japanese experience at a place filled with authentic Japanese atmosphere, you don’t need to look no further than Asakusa. Crowded with many tourists from both within and outside Japan be it on weekdays or weekends, Nakamise Dori Street in Asakusa is lined with many shops offering Japanese traditional craftworks and sweets, and allows you to enjoy its own unique atmosphere. Let me introduce to you some recommendable shops from here and fun things and nice foods I tried on my recent tour of the street.
My First Kimono Experience
Many places in Asakusa rent out kimonos. At the kimono shop Kosode, which is a 30 second walk from Asakusa Station, you can rent a set of kimono dress with a kimono belt and a pair of geta sandals from the cheapest rate of 4,000 yen per day and up. Wearing a Japanese kimono will surely be one of your unforgettable experiences in Japan.
Oracle: Is Your Fortune Good or Bad?
As your get your mood enhanced in a kimono, now’s the time to head to Nakamise Dori Street! You first visit Senso-ji Temple and try an oracle. If it turns out to be bad, indicated by the character “凶”, tie the oracle slip to a branch of a tree on the temple site. Otherwise, you can bring it back home as your memorabilia.
Related: Omikuji: Drawing and Understanding Your Japanese Fortune
Asakusa Specialty: Kaminariokoshi & Ningyo-yaki
Kaminariokoshi, sweet roasted rice-cake, has a long history and was already mentioned in ancient books of over one thousand years ago. But it was since the late 17th century that this snack has been sold in Asakusa. The name of the snack, kaminari-okoshi, has been taken from the name of the Kaminarimon Gate at the entrance of the street (Official name is Fujin Raijin Mon).
Ningyo-yaki, cake with sweet azuki bean paste or other filling, on the other hand, was first invented and sold in the early 20th century by the confectionary makers from Ningyocho, Tokyo. The designs of the sweets are typically themed on Kaminarimon Gate, the five-storied pagoda and other tourist spots in Asakusa but the more latest and casual addition to the variation includes Hello Kitty and other popular characters.
5 Most Recommendable Japanese Sweets
From among many Japanese sweets available in Asakusa, I’ve selected 5 of them which I actually tried, tasted good and I would definitely want to try again when I visit here again.
1. Kibidango (sweet dumpling) of Azuma
This kibidango shop also offers very popular amazake, sweet fermented sake drink.
2. Deep-fried Manju Bun of Nakatomi Shoten
Each piece of these buns is cheaply priced at 100 Yen and very budget-friendly. You can choose the flavor from koshian (strained azuki bean paste), tsubuan (coarse azuki bean paste), ume plum, maccha green tea and sesame.
3. Imo Yokan (Sweet Potato Paste Solidified into Bars) of Funawa
This sweet is made without any additives or preservatives and has pure and natural taste of the ingredients. You can have it dispatched from the shop then and there as a gift.
4. Dorayaki (Cake with Sweet Azuki Bean Paste Filling) of Kameju
The great popularity of Kameju is such that people make a long waiting queue even before its opening time! As their dorayaki often becomes sold out in the morning, it’s recommended to visit here as early as you can.
5. Melon Bread of Kagetsudo
There are always people queueing up in front of this popular shop! It is often featured on TV. The large-sized melon bread has fine and fluffy texture, which can only be created with slow and low temperature fermentation.
Related: 11 Breads that Developed Independently In Japan and Are Unique Overseas
In Japan, it’s often considered bad manners to walk around while eating. But it doesn’t apply to this laid-back street in Asakusa. Please make sure, however, to be respectful by throwing wrapping papers and other trash in trash cans or taking them with you to dispose of properly.
Besides Nakamise Dori Street, the Asakusa area also has many other tourist attractions including shopping facilities and historical buildings. Make sure to pay a visit here!