Asakusa - Overview


Asakusa is one of several “must see” destinations for most visitors to Tokyo. This neighbourhood, located in the eastern parts of the city, retains much of the charm from bygone days. In particular the blocks around Sensoji, the biggest and most visited temple in Tokyo, is surrounded by traditional Japanese Shotengai or shopping streets.

However, modern buildings and landmarks can also be found in this part of town. Venture down to nearby Sumida River, and you will be treated to one of the most famous views in Tokyo, with the modernist Asahi Beer Hall (with the infamous Golden Turd on top of it) next to Tokyo Sky Tree, and with the beer-mug shaped building that makes up the head office of Asahi Breweries sandwiched in between.

This part of Tokyo is considered a typical Shitamachi (literally “lower city”). That means that the area was home to people of the lower classes in the social hierarchy, like workers, artisans and merchants. The exact definition of what parts of Tokyo exactly are considered to be shitamachi are somewhat vague, as this has also varied quite a lot over time. However, most people agree that Asakusa is a prime example of a Shitamachi neighbourhood.

Asakusa is the north-eastern terminus of the subways Ginza Line, arguably the most important train line that serves this part of town, as it connects it to several other major districts such as Ueno, Ginza, Omotesando and Shibuya. The other subway line that passes through Asakusa is the aptly named Asakusa Line, which provides easy access to Haneda Airport. Some travellers might continue eastwards by the Keisei Line, that connects Oshiage, the site of Tokyo Sky Tree, with Narita Airport.

Around Asakusa Station you will find several energetic young men offering guided tours on their Jinrikishas. Albeit these tours are somewhat pricey, expect to pay upwards 6000 yen for a 30 minute ride, they can be a fun way familiarize with the area, Jinrikishas used to be a popular means of transportation during the latter half of the 19th century. Today however, they are only in use at a handful of locations around Japan, with Asakusa being the only place in Tokyo where you can enjoy this experience.

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