Best Way to Enjoy Asakusa, Tokyo: Avoid Heading Straight to Sensoji Temple!
Asakusa has become a very popular tourist spot among tourists from outside Japan. With such tourist attractions as Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Engeijo(Vaudeville Hall), the downtown culture and traditional festivals, it is a very attractive tourist destination that represents Japan.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you the best way and the best route to fully enjoy Asakusa.
Don’t Get off at Asakusa Station
Travel books suggest you to get off at the nearest train station to visit each tourist destination. When you check Sensoji Temple in a guidebook, for example, it probably shows Asakusa Station as the nearest train station.
You sure want to head to the nearest station to save time in visiting a destination. But the area around Asakusa Station is jam-packed with a huge crowd of visitors from both within and outside Japan every day. Because the station building of Asakusa is not as large as that of Shinjuku or Ikebukuro, you would have a hard time just to get out of the station.
So my recommendation is to get off at Tawaramachi Station of Toei Subway Ginza Line, which is just one station before Asakusa.
Without such a huge number of people getting off here, the station is free from the bustle of crowds. You may hesitate on the idea of walking the distance of one station, but the intervals between the stations in Tokyo are not more than 400 meters on average.
Also, the shopping street leading to Sensoji Temple from here is covered with a roof, so you can get to Sensoji Temple without having to hold an umbrella in one hand and a map in the other even on a rainy day.
Also, Tawaramachi Station can provide easy access to such tourist spots as “Kappabashi Shopping Street,” which is popular among tourists for elaborately created plastic model foods, “Asakusa Engeijo,” which hosts traditional entertainment shows, “Asakusa Hanayashiki,” an amusement park filled with a retro atmosphere, and “Hoppy Dori Avenue,” where you can get a grasp of the Japanese downtown culture.
Sensoji Temple and other Tourist Attractions in Asakusa
Sensoji Temple is largely featured in any travel guidebook and likely to be the very first destination people rush to visit. But don’t forget to take some time to enjoy the overall townscapes around Asakusa. The area around Tawaramachi Station has shops specializing in floats and drums that are indispensable for traditional Japanese festivals, a restaurant specializing in “yatsume unagi (lamprey)” cuisines, and many long-established tempura restaurants.
What you should also check out on your way from the station to Sensoji Temple is buildings with unique features. Many shops and restaurants in Asakusa try to distinguish themselves from others with very unique looking buildings and shop front designs.
To take just a few examples, you will be able find a building with a large doll of a cook on its rooftop, kabuki actor, blowfish, cow, festival float, sumo wrestler and the wall with pieces of dishware stuck into it.
Raise your eyes and look up and far instead of paying too much attention on the map, then you will definitely discover something interesting around here.
Find the Spot Commanding a View of Sky Tree and Beer Mug Building
And if you raise your eyes and walk around the area, you might be able to get to a spot from which you can see Sky Tree and a building with mugs overflowing with beer foam. Make sure to discover this spot yourself as well.
Best Route for Asakusa Sightseeing
Many tourists who first head straight to Sensoji Temple will become tired from weaving through crowds but have a hard time finding a place to rest because all cafes and restaurants in the area are likely to be occupied with other tourists. You would thus end up spending a whole day just visiting Sensoji Temple and coming back.
To avoid all that, the best tip I would like to give you is to start from Tawaramachi Station, tour around Asakusa and have a meal and go to the bathroom on the way before you finally visit Sensoji Temple.
And if you still have some spare time in Asakusa, you can enjoy walking around Sumida River or even extend your trip a little bit further to Sky Tree. You will thus be able to fully enjoy the town of Asakusa.