Our first stop in Asakusa isn’t exactly an attraction, but do make a stop at the (16) Tourist Information Center building. If possible, take advantage of the free guided walking tour of the area, provided on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1.15 p.m. At other times, this is the place to go if you need directions, Wi-Fi, or air conditioning.
From here, you can clearly see the Kaminarimon gate across the street, marking the entrance to (17) Sensoji Temple. Walk past the gate and along (18) Nakamise Dori. This shopping street is lined by little shops selling snacks and souvenirs, stretching all the way to the temple. (Tip: try the rice crackers.)
This area of Asakusa near Sensoji Temple is the only place in Tokyo where you can take a rickshaw ride. The price starts from about 2,000 yen for a 10-minute ride for one person. From what I observed, the drivers were friendly and charming, chatting with their passengers in English.
Another cool thing you can do here is get dressed in a kimono by professionals who will also do your hair and makeup. A friend of mine did this and got asked to stop for pictures multiple times throughout the day in Asakusa. It’s a great conversation starter, but it may not be a good idea if all you want is a quiet stroll.
Behind the busy Sensoji Temple, there’s a smaller place of worship called (19) Asakusa Shrine (Asakusa-jinja or Sanja-sama). Asakusa Shrine is dedicated to the three men who founded the Sensoji Temple.
There’s another temple in the area that’s a little off the beaten path — at least for foreign travelers. But Japanese pilgrims flock to (20) Imado Jinja, which supposedly has the power to bestow luck in love. Its other claim to fame is being the place of origin for the maneki neko, the cat figurine beckoning with one raised paw. In fact, there are two big cat statues in the main shrine that people line up to take photos with (it’s apparently lucky). There are also charms that you can buy to boost your luck.
About five-minute walk away from the temple area is the (21) Sumida Riverside Park. It’s a great place to wind down and take in the sceneries.
You can view the (22) Tokyo SkyTree from the park, or you can cross the bridge to actually get there. There’s a shopping center called the Tokyo Solamachi at the bottom of the Tokyo SkyTree that you can access for free, but going up the tower costs 2,060 yen. In the same complex, there’s an aquarium and a planetarium, as well as restaurants and terraces with views of the SkyTree.
Tip: If you still have time after this walking tour of Asakusa, take a water bus from Sumida River to Hama Rikyu Gardens — which is located near Tsujiki Fish Market — and continue with the Chuo / Ginza walking tour in the next page. The fare to Hama Rikyu Gardens is 720 yen (plus you have to pay 300 yen for admission fee to the park). Alternatively, you can take the water bus to Odaiba island instead for 1,560 yen.