In the middle of November last year I went on a date in Asakusa. It was the first time I went there, and it immediately became one of my favorite spots in Tokyo. Sure, I like the modern cities where there is bustling life and young people and always something cool going on! But I have always loved history, and sometimes it’s nice to go to the areas of Tokyo where it’s all about the city’s history.
I have uploaded quite a lot of photos in this post, and will tell something about them in the uploaded order.
When you arrive to Asakusa you can choose to take a guided tour in a jinrikisha – a small cart pulled by a running man wearing traditional clothes. These men are worthy of admiration – they run around pulling these carts while chatting to their customers and telling them about the places they run past. The word jinrikisha consists of jin (human), riki (strength) and sha (vehicle) – easy to understand! But these guided tours are quite expensive.
The second photo shows a koban – a police box. There are police stations all around Tokyo, but even though there are many, the distance between them is big. If you quickly need a policeman, try at the closest koban. These are placed here and there, usually at street corners or close to train stations. There’s always at least one police man there. Some kobans are a little bigger, some are a little smaller. But they are all convenient – for example if you want to ask someone for directions!
In the third photo there are many things to see… It’s one of the bigger crossings in Asakusa. You can see aforementioned koban, the Tokyo Sky Tree, and the Asahi brewery – that’s the building with the weird yellow thing on it. Asahi is one of the biggest beer companies here in Japan. I guess most people know about “Asahi Super Dry” since that commercial is always on TV – maybe it’s comparable to how famous Norrlands Guld is in Sweden?
I ended up on a street where I just had to take a couple of photos. In one direction you can see an old gate, low older buildings… The older part of Asakusa. In the other direction you can see modern tall buildings, and the Tokyo Sky Tree – the latest big landmark of Tokyo. This contrast between old and modern can be noticed in all of Tokyo, but it was interesting to see it this obvious.
Then it was time to go to the Sensoji shrine! At the entrance to the road leading up to the shrine is one of Asakusa’s biggest tourist spots: Kaminarimon – “the thunder gate”. The gate got its name from the two Buddhist protective gods that stand as wooden statues inside the gate itself – the wind god Fujin and the thunder god Raijin. The original gate was built in the year 942, but it has burned and been rebuilt several time. The gate that can be seen in Asakusa today was built in 1960.
When you have entered the gate you follow Nakamisedori (a street with lots of small shops along it) until you reach the Sensoji shrine. Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest shrine, originally built in the year 645. Before you enter the shrine itself you should wash your hands and rinse your mouth, according to the instructions found at the location. You can also burn incense.
It is so beautiful inside the shrine! Decorations, gold, wooden details, paintings… It’s difficult to describe how beautiful it is, that’s one of the places you have to visit and experience to really understand. Connected to the shrine is also a really beautiful park with water, bridges and carp fishes.
We continued on and reached the Asakusa amusement park. We didn’t enter it though but stayed outside. But that was entertaining enough! We happened to find a very good magician, and then someone on stilts appeared. I don’t know exactly what the person was supposed to look like, but I guess something from Japanese cultural history.
All in all, it was a very interesting day, and I have returned a few times to Asakusa after that first time!