Asakusa Half Day Trip – What to Do and Where to Eat
Asakusa is one of the most popular sightseeing places in Tokyo. During the Edo era, Asakusa is used as a food stocking place. After the Meiji era, various entertainment halls and theaters were built in the district and Asakusa was renowned as the cultural hub of Tokyo. Now, the town has an old, traditional feel, with the famous Kaminari-mon Gate and large red lantern. There are so many things to do and see in Asakusa area, so a half day trip here is warranted.
What to eat?
Kagetsudō 花月堂 – famous lemon pan
Kimuraya Ningyo Yaki 元祖木村屋人形焼本舗 – famous ningyo-yaki
Suzukien Asakusa 壽々喜園浅草本店 – richest matcha gelato in the world
Asakusa Menchi 浅草メンチ炸豬肉餅 – super juicy deep fried minced pork
Asakusa Gyuukatsu 淺草牛かつ – famous gyukatsu (deep fried beef)
A-naniwaya Kakigori 浅草浪花家 – nice kakigori and taiyaki bursting with red bean filling
Edo-style Tempura (Daikokuya/Masaru/Tentake…)
What to do?
Kimono Rental (link here)
Kaminarimon (front)/Hozomon (back) 雷門/宝蔵門
Asakusa Nakamise Street 仲見世通
Asakusa Shrine 浅草神社
Dempoin Street 伝法院通
Asakusa Omatsuri Street 浅草西参道商店
Asakusa Engei Hall 浅草演芸ホール
Tokyo Sky Tree 東京スカイツリ
Asakusa is served by the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Railways. It can also be accessed by the Tokyo Water Bus.
From Tokyo Station
Take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station (2 minutes, 140 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 170 yen).
From Shinjuku Station
Take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station (10 minutes, 170 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 170 yen).
What to Do in Asakusa?
#1 Kimono Experience:
One of the biggest highlight of our Tokyo trip is wearing a traditional kimono and strolling the historic streets of Asakusa in our own sweet time.
We booked our Kimono Experience from Klook – link here.
The couple plan costs only USD 59.70/RM 253. The plan is inclusive of 1 day kimono rental (kimono, obi band, undershirt, bag, socks, sandals, shawl), professional dressing service, simple hair set & hair ornaments as well as luggage storage. Use code “KLOOKKBCG” for RM 20 off your first purchase on klook.com!
The rental return time is by 4.30 p.m., so this gives us plenty time to scroll the historic streets of Asakusa, plus engaging a professional photographer from Wanderzoom for a photo shoot session (another post). Sign up here for USD 10 off for your first destination photo shoot.
The kimono rental store is located just 3 minutes walk from Asakusa Station. On arrival, we showed them our Klook Voucher (printed or from phone) and they asked us to fill up some basic information. We were then ushered to 3rd floor (female) and 2nd floor (male) where all the kimono selections are located. The selection is quite good because we were there early, you can also opt to top up for “better” selection but I think it is not necessary.
For females, it will take around 30 minutes to get ready because the process of wearing a kimono is not easy. After undressing, I put on a slip call the juban (white cotton top and skirt). The Japanese ladies there were really professional in wrapping me up in a kimono. They also let me decide on how to tie the obi band – ribbon, mickey mouse(!!), round and etc. For hairdo, there were only 5 options available – I chose hair do number 2. You can also opt to top up 2000 yen for different hair do. Remember to choose a nice bag to go with your kimono – I chose one that can fit my wallet, camera and hp. We left our other belongings with the staffs and they kept it well.
Here’s some tips on how to choose the right kimono:
- Be at the kimono rental store early – most of the popular colours/prints are not available if you arrive late.
- Choose a kimono with vivid and cheerful colors. Bright colors make a person look taller. Do not choose light coloured kimonos because it tends to make you look pasty or sick. Pale coloured kimonos will also look “white” in photos.
- Bigger prints > smaller prints because it will look good in photos. However, make sure that the prints are close to each other.
- Bigger hair accessories > dainty hair accessories for the same reason above.
- Choose your kimono colour according to the season. For example,avoid pink for sakura season and avoid red/yellow for autumn season.
- We are always so spoiled for choice when it comes to kimono colours and patterns. In order to save time, have a few options in your mind first. You can then communicate this to the staffs at the kimono rental place.
- Make up and hair do is essential, or else you will look like a kimono clad ghost (with pale face and hair down).
The kimono rental store is located along the Sumida River, so we got a nice view of the Tokyo Sky Tree outside.
We took a picture outside this old school looking candy store while we were half way walking to Asakusa’s main street.
#3 Asakusa Nakamise Street 仲見世通
The most popular and most crowded shopping street at Asakusa area, stretching from from Kaminarimon Gate to Senso-ji. There are numerous stores lined up on this approach, about 50 on the east side and 30 on the west side, all of them old and historical.
#7 Asakusa Engei Hall 浅草演芸ホール
We walked further to Asakusa Engei Hall. Founded in 1884, Asakusa Engei Hall offers various popular Japanese cultural entertainments such as Rakugo, a comic verbal entertainment, as well as Manzai (double act comedy), Mandan(comic monologue), Conte (comedy sketch), magic, paper cutting, acrobatics, and mimics.
We do not have time for any performances, so we just strolled around the entertainment district. Asakusa Engei Hall is located quite close by to a multi-storey don-quijote.
What to Eat in Asakusa?
#1 Kimuraya Honpo Ningyo Yaki 元祖木村屋人形焼本舗
Ningyo yaki is a small snack cake and is made by cooking batter of flour, eggs and sugar in an iron mold, usually containing anko (sweet bean paste.) It was born in the Meiji era in Ningyocho, a town named after its history as a theater town where puppet plays were shown commonly.
While many ningyo yaki are in a traditional shape of shichifukujin (seven lucky gods), vendors in Asakusa area sells cute kaminarimon (thunder gate) shaped ningyo yaki, and we tried it from a random stall from Asakusa Nakamise Street 仲見世通. The most famous and the best (as they said) Ningyo-Yaki can be found from Kimuraya Honpo, it is located at the end of Nakamise Street, very near to Senso-ji.
#2 Kagetsudō 花月堂
Asakusa Kagetsudo is a melon-pan store and restaurant that has been in business since 1945. Melon-pan is a sweet baked bread with a top that resembles the outer layer of a cantaloupe melon. Kagetsudo is most famous for their jumbo melon-pan which is best eaten warm, but also sells variations of their melon-pan that come with ice cream fillings.
#3 Suzukien Asakusa 壽々喜園浅草本店
Asakusa Suzukien Nanaya Gelato is a collaboration between Suzukien, a green tea speciality shop, and Nanaya Gelato, a gelato shop. The store claims to have the richest and most intense green tea (matcha) gelato in the world.
The popular shop offers about fourteen gelato flavors including seven matcha ones. Remember to go for intensity #7, it is really really good – very rich and intense matcha flavour but not bitter at all.
#4 A-naniwaya Kakigori 浅草浪花家
A-naniwaya is famous for kakigori and freshly made taiyaki bursting with red bean filling.
Only the best Hokkaido red bean is being used for the filling!
The kakigori menu is seasonal. We asked for a strawberry kakigori but was told that it is only available during strawberry season.
#5 Asakusa Menchi 浅草メンチ炸豬肉餅
This famous little stall is located at Dempoin Street.
The queue seemed long but it didn’t take long for us to place our order. The super juicy menchi katsu/deep fried minced pork (200 yen) was really delicious!
For a proper meal, Asakusa Gyuukatsu 淺草牛かつ – famous gyukatsu (deep fried beef) and Edo-style tempura (Daikokuya/Masaru/Tentake…) are recommended.
You can always combine your Asakusa half day trip with the 634 meter tall Tokyo Skytree, a twenty minute walk across the Sumida River from Asakusa. There’s plenty of dining and shopping options at Tokyo Skytree too!