While it is hard to narrow down all there is to do in Tokyo, the Asakusa section has some great sightseeing options. Like many places in Japan, Asakusa began as a small fishing village, then developed into an entertainment district during the Edo Period. Because Asakusa is an older part of Tokyo, it has retained an old-world feel, making for a very interesting and unique visit.
Here is a quick guide to the best sites Asakusa has to offer (and as a bonus, they’re budget-friendly – all have free admission!). While you technically could see them all in 1 day, it would be better to allot a day and a half to 2 days, to avoid feeling rushed):
Senso-ji Temple & Nakamise Shopping Street.
Senso-ji is one of Japan’s most famous temples. Located in the heart of Tokyo, this beautiful Buddhist temple was established in 645 AD. Its bright red torii gate and massive lanterns are striking against Tokyo’s urban cityscape and provide incredible photo ops. You can also stroll the unique stores and restaurants of Nakamise Shopping Street, which leads directly to Senso-ji’s main gate. Additionally, Asakusa Shrine, one of the few sites to survive the Tokyo Air Raids of 1945, is located on the east side of Senso-ji Temple’s grounds. All of these sites have free admission.
As Senso-ji Temple is a symbol of Japan, it is truly a must-see. Luckily, in addition to the temple, the Asakusa area is packed with interesting things to do. Based on your preferences, you can check out any (or all) of the following nearby spots:
Yoshitoku Doll Makers.
This luxury doll maker has been in business since 1711 and has served the Japanese Imperial Family for centuries. Yoshitoku is famous throughout Japan, and if you’re looking for an authentic porcelain doll dressed in pure silk, this is the place to go. Yoshitoku also makes Star Wars-themed dolls, Disney character dolls, and Hina dolls (which are used in Japan’s Girls’ Day Festival, known as Hina Matsuri, celebrated every year on March 3rd). Doll prices range from 2,500 to millions of Yen.
Needless to say, Yoshitoku is a great place for doll collectors (and Star Wars and Disney otaku!), and is definitely something you won’t see outside of Japan. (Address: 1-9-14 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo; near Asakusabashi Station. Admission: Free.)
Akihabara Electric Town.
Known as Akihabara and Akiba for short, this section of Tokyo is famous for electronics and its dedication to all things otaku (which is fetish or “diehard fan” culture). Akihabara became known as “Electric Town” after World War II, because hard-to-obtain electronics were sold on the black market there.
If you’re into anime, manga, cosplay or electronics, Akihabara is a must-see. The town is awash in neon light, and Akihabara’s tall buildings are packed with comic book stores, arcades and Maid and Butler cafes, (where patrons get served by staff dressed as (and playing the role of) your maid or butler). (Akihabara is located in the Chiyoda Ward of Tokyo, and the closest station is Akihabara; Admission: None).
Tokyo Anime Center.
This popular spot in Akihabara is a one-stop shop for all things anime. Tokyo Anime Center hosts anime-related exhibitions and events, and has a massive shop selling anime character toys, figurines, apparel, stationery (and just about anything you can think of that’s anime-related). (Address: 4th Floor of Akihabara UDX Bldg., 4-14-1 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-002; near JR Akihabara Station; Admission: Free.)
You can check out Tokyo Anime Center’s event schedule here: Tokyo Anime Center
So, if you get a chance to visit Tokyo, Asakusa is a great, budget-friendly place to spend a day or two. Senso-ji is truly a symbol of Japan and shouldn’t be missed, and while you’re in the area, depending on your preferences, you can check out: Asakusa Shrine, Nakamise Shopping Street, Akihabara Electric Town, Yoshitoku Doll Makers or Tokyo Anime Center. Whatever you choose, it will be a truly authentic experience you can’t find outside Japan.
Check out more cool stuff to do in Tokyo: Tokyo Skytree: A Magnificent Must-See