We visited Asakusa in September 2016.
It was hot and humid and crowded. Really crowded. And impressive. We loved it. Most of it.
We arrived at Asakusa train station and were surprised by the noise level. It was even louder than Osaka’s Universal Studios Halloween while the zombies were chasing us.
The rickshaw guys were shouting, really. But they weren’t shouting to get people inside their carriage, they were shouting the way. They were saying ‘Kaminari-mon is this way’ and I was thinking ‘WTH is Kaminari-mon?’.
Yeah, I was tired.
And there was a store full of Ghibli things.
After looking around the little shop and not buying anything (our bags were a bit fuller than they should already), we decided to abide by the rickshaw drivers (or pilots?) and head to Kaminari-mon.
It was pretty close and easy to find, as it was more crowded than Disney (or we thought so). The huge bright red gate was easily spottable.
I didn’t know what was beyond that gate because I researched Asakusa when we bought our tickets to Japan. It was months and months ago. I’d researched so much after that that I ended up not knowing anything at all. Lesson one: at least read the notes you took the night before your trip.
Behind those gates was Nakamise, a street full of little shops. The sweet shops are incredible, they all look awesome and delicious but you probably need to like sweet azuki beans. There’s one thing we found that everyone liked, which was the Ice Monaka, an ice cream filled cookie, and it’s really good. The ningyo-yaki is the traditional Asakusa sweet, it’s a soft cookie filled with sweet azuki beans paste, and it’s lovely.
There are many shops at Nakamise: food, sweets, souvenirs. We didn’t look at all of them, but we did wander around a bit and it was so crowded we didn’t really look to close. Really do take your time wandering around and don’t fret buying from the first shop because many of them sell the same thing at similar, but not exactly the same price.
There are 2 main temples there, the Senso-Ji and the Asakusa Temples. They’re pretty similar to each other. They’re both small in size and Senso-Ji was a bit more crowded than Asakusa Temple. They aren’t super different from other temples in Japan, so you might as well save your time if you’re not temple obsessed. The kids had no patience to see the inside of all the temples, where they had to keep their voices down, stay close, walk nicely. They’d rather be outside, where they could talk, laugh, take photos, run.
As almost always, I enjoyed most the surroundings than the temples themselves. It’s very beautiful, full of things to see. Coral loved watching the koi swimming at the pond. The other kids loved seeing the lanterns drawn by other kids. I loved people watching and wandering around looking at all the beautiful sweets.
We left the temple grounds and went to walk around the surrounding areas. There’s Hanayashiki Amusement Park just outside, which we didn’t visit. There was an owl café there too, which we didn’t also visit due to ethical reasons. We only realized there was such a thing there because there was a guy with an owl on his shoulder and it looked at us, even turned its neck 180° to keep watching us.
Angelo saw the ice cream melon pan (melon flavored bread) and ate one at Kagetsudo at Nishisandou Omaturishoutengai. It smelt incredible and Angelo said it was really good. Meanwhile, we were getting hungry and saw a small and very old looking udon restaurant, so we went for it. It was called Sasagoya and it was super simple, cheap yet delicious! The 2 ladies there were extremely lovely. Highly recommend it! They did not, however, speak any English.
I’d recommend you take your time wandering around the temples, taking in all the beauty the place has to offer and then, wandering around the beautiful surrounding area. We loved just walking around Asakusa, such a beautiful place!
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