Best of Asakusa Walking Tour, Tokyo

The Asakusa district in Tokyo is famous for the Senso-ji temple and is one of the few places in Tokyo that retains the old world charm. The temple markets, narrow streets, traditional shops and restaurants provide a glimpse of old Tokyo. It is also known as Tokyo's oldest geisha district. Take a walking tour and live the carnival atmosphere that pervades this place.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Best of Asakusa Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Best of Asakusa Walking Tour
Guide Location: Japan » Tokyo (See other walking tours in Tokyo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Author: ann
Kaminarimon Gate

1) Kaminarimon Gate (must see)

The Kaminarimon is the first of the ornate gates that lead to the Senso Ji Buddhist temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. The word Kaminarimon translates as "Thunder Gate".

The Kaminarimon was constructed over a thousand years ago by Taira no Kinmasa during the Samurai period in 942. It was relocated to the present location in 1635. It burned down in 1639 and was constructed again by the shogun lord Tokugawa Iemitsu. The present structure was renovated in 1960.

The Kaminarimon is 11.7 meters tall and 11.4 meters wide. There are four statues within the gate. In the front, the statue of the Shinto God of the wind Fujin is on the east and the God of thunder, Raijin is on the west. Towards the back of the gate are statues of the Buddhist God Tenryu and the Goddess, Kinryu. A giant red paper lantern or Chochin hangs in the center that was a donation of the founder of the company now called Panasonic. The front of the lantern has the name Kaminarimon painted and on the back is the official name of the gate, Furaijinmon. It has a wooden base with a sculpture of a dragon. It is collapsed during festivals to allow temple objects to pass through the gate.

Why You Should Visit:
Iconic Asakusa photo spot!
Peaceful area full of local food to try.

The gate is best seen illuminated at night when crowds have thinned out.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Nakamise Shopping Street

2) Nakamise Shopping Street (must see)

Nakamise-dori is a shopping street that leads from the Kaminarimon Gate to the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. The shopping street is popular with both locals visiting the temple and tourists looking for souvenirs.

The Nakamise-dori was established in 1685. The 12 subsidiary temples that lined both sides of the Senso-ji temple were allowed to put stalls in front selling souvenirs after promising local residents that the area would be maintained and kept clean by them. The name Nakamise means inner shopping street because it is sandwiched between two other larger commercial areas. In 1885, the government evicted the shopkeepers and built a line of brick and vermilion lacquered shop buildings. The market was damaged by the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and rebuilt only to be destroyed again during the bombings of World War II.

Approximately 90 shops line the 250-meter street. The shops sell ningyoyaki, a baked confectionary, handmade rice crackers, local crafts, masks, dolls, casual kimonos and happi coats or short kimono styled coats. Professional performers come here to purchase accessories used for traditional dances and theatrical performances. Visitors can also buy tourist souvenirs like t-shirts and caps in Nakamise-dori on their way to the Senso-ji temple.

Why You Should Visit:
If you're hunting for a souvenir this is your stop as you can find pretty much everything around here.
Then again, some are not here for the shopping, but for the atmosphere and the wide range of street foods and restaurants :)

Do bring cash, as not many vendors accept cards.
Hōzōmon Gate

3) Hōzōmon Gate (must see)

The Hōzōmon is the inner gate that houses the treasures of the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. It has two floors and the temple treasures are stored on the upper floor.

The Hōzōmon was first built in 942 by the then military commander, Taira no Kinmasa. He prayed at the Senso-ji temple that he may become the Lord of Tokyo and built the gate in gratitude when he achieved his goal. The original gate was burned by a fire in 1631. The 3rd Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu rebuilt the Hozomon. This gate stood for 300 years till it was destroyed by the World War II bombings. The present Hōzōmon is a steel-reinforced structure built with fire-resistant materials for the safety of the temple treasures.

The Hōzōmon has two 5.5 meter tall statues of Nios or deities that guard Lord Buddha. It also has three large paper lanterns including one large and prominent red chochin donated by the residents of the town of Funamachi in 2003. They donated it to the temple to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Edo period. On either side are two copper lanterns weighing 1000 kilograms each. The treasures preserved in the upper floor are a copy of the Lotus Sutra, a designated Japanese national treasure, and the Issai Kyo, a complete collection of Buddhist scriptures that is designated as an important cultural property of Japan. At the back of the gate are two straw sandals called the Waraji.

Why You Should Visit:
Good for taking photos and quite impressive to admire.
You can get a beautiful view of the Senso-ji Temple complex from this vantage point.
Also a great place for local merchandise and street food!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6:30am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

4) Gojunoto

The Gojunoto or Five storied pagoda forms part of the Senso Ji complex in Asakusa, Tokyo. It is the second highest in Japan, the highest being the pagoda of the Toji Temple of Kyoto.

The first Gojunoto pagoda was constructed in 942 by the military commander Taira No Kinmasa. The original pagoda was burned down and another was built in1650 by Tokugawa Lemitsu. It was destroyed by a major fire in 1816 and rebuilt in 1818. In 1911 it was designated as a national treasure. The pagoda was damaged during World War II in 1945 and the present structure was constructed in 1973.

The present Gojunoto is made of fire resistant reinforced concrete and steel. It is 53.32 meters high and has a central pillar made of Japanese cypress wood which is the standard form of architecture in almost all Japanese pagodas. The five floors are loosely packed around the central pillar in an architectural style called the new Toinzukuri style. This type of design is meant to make the structure resistant to earthquakes. It also houses a lecture hall and contains the ashes or Busshari and the tablet or Rehai of the Buddha. The relics of the Buddha are stored in the top floor of the Gojunoto.
Senso-ji Temple

5) Senso-ji Temple (must see)

The Senso-ji Temple, also known as the Asakusa Kannon temple, is the oldest and most popular among Buddhist temples in Tokyo. It is the most visited temple by tourists in Tokyo and is famous for the many colorful and vibrant festivals and events that take place all through the year.

According to legend, two fishermen Hinokuma Hamanari and his brother Takenari drew a golden statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon, the Goddess of mercy from the River Sumida. They tried putting it back into the river but it resurfaced time and again. The village headman of Asakusa heard their story and understood the significance of the idol. He became a Buddhist monk and converted his home into a temple which is now the well known Senso-ji temple. The Tokugawa Shoguns were devotees of the temple and expanded the structure and gave it the reverential importance it enjoys today. It was burned down in the World War II bombings and was rebuilt by worshippers. The golden statue of Kannon is still housed within the temple but is never shown to the public.

Over 30 million visitors and pilgrims visit the temple annually and it is the venue for important festivals. The Sanja Matsuri, the largest festival of the Asakusa Shrine is celebrated every year in May and the Asakusa Samba Carnival takes place annually in August.

Why You Should Visit:
Although very crowded during the most of the day, this is still a very nice place for a foreigner.
Great for taking lots of pictures, getting your fortune, buying some good luck charms and other gifts for friends & family, or just having some yummy food.

There are tons of picture opportunities around the shrine grounds especially during festivals and other events.
Walk down the side streets and you'll find many of the better food stalls and restaurants and far fewer people.
At sundown, the crowds are thinner and more importantly, the main temple buildings are beautifully lit!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6:30am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Asakusa Shrine

6) Asakusa Shrine (must see)

The Asakusa Shrine is located on the east side of the Senso-ji temple in Tokyo. It is a Shinto shrine that was built to honor the three men who built the Senso-ji Temple.

The Asakusa Shrine was built in 1649 by the Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu. The Bodhisattva Kannon statue in the Senso-ji Temple appeared in the fishing net of two fishermen brothers, Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari. Its significance was recognized by the headman of the Asakusa village, Hajino Nakatumo who converted his house into what is now the Senso-ji temple. All three men became Buddhist monks and are enshrined as deities in the Asakusa Shrine.

The Asakusa shrine is located down a small street east of the Senso-ji Temple. A large stone gateway leads visitors and worshipers into the shrine. Unlike most historic and religious structures in Tokyo, it survived the bombing raids of World War II in 1945. The Japanese Government designated the shrine as an important cultural property in 1951. It has an architectural style called Gonden Zukuri. The shrine is guarded by two stone guardian half-lion half-dog sculptures called the Komainu who protect it from evil. It is the venue of the Sanja festival held annually in May which is one of the three most important festivals celebrated in Tokyo.

Why You Should Visit:
Centrally located in Asakusa near many interesting eating and drinking spots.
Everything around here is styled around how things would have been way back when.
While the Shrine is not very big, it has a large enough park as well as imperial attributes to the right of it.

Tourists are allowed to enter the Shrine location, but cannot take photos inside – only the front.
Make sure to visit the temple after dusk. Although the doors will be closed, an opportunity to snap up photos of the temple at night is breathtaking.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ichikawa Danjuro IX Statue

7) Ichikawa Danjuro IX Statue

Located on the grounds of the Senso-ji temple, the Ichikawa Danjuro IX Statue is dedicated to one of the most famous kabuki actors in Japan - Ichikawa Danjuro. He was the head of Kabuki-za theatre and the first kabuki actor to appear in a film.

8) Hanayashiki

Hanayashiki is the oldest amusement park in Japan and has entertained hundreds of young visitors for over 146 years. It is a small facility that is packed with 20 interesting rides for children and adults.

The Hanayashiki was first opened as a flower park in 1853 when the commodore of the US Navy, Matthew Galbraith Perry visited Tokyo in the late Edo era. In 1872, play equipments were installed to entertain children. Western movies were shown in a small theater and a small zoo with exotic birds and animals was located inside. In 1923, tiger quintuplets were born here and in 1931, the first lion was born in Japan at the Hanayashiki.

After World War II, it became an amusement park managed by the Togo Company. The company has celebrated 50 years of managing the 146 year old park. It has become the most popular amusement park in the city. Besides rides, there are many lunchrooms and a shop selling park related souvenirs. Parents can purchase a pass that offers unlimited rides for children at the entrance. Facilities at the park include a first aid center, a lost children center and a lost and found center to help visitors in need, locker rooms and disability friendly restrooms.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Tokyo, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Tokyo

Create Your Own Walk in Tokyo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Tokyo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa

Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa

Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines dot Japan’s landscape. These temples and shrines are an architectural splendor and many of these can be found in every part of Tokyo. This guide will take you to the smaller Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in the Takanawa neighborhood of Tokyo. Most often overlooked by tourists, these temples and shrines are a beauty and should not be missed.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Shibuya Walking Tour

Shibuya Walking Tour

This place is a melting ground for the fashion conscious and trendy teenagers and is lined with trendy shops, boutiques and some historic sites. On Sundays, crowds of young people converge here dressed up in myriad colors and styles to socialize and have fun. Other significant sites here are the Meiji shrine and the Yoyogi Park. Take time off to experience the fun and frolic that marks the place.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Tokyo Imperial Palace Walking Tour

Tokyo Imperial Palace Walking Tour

The Imperial Palace, residence of the Japanese Emperor was once the site of the Edo Castle in the 17th – 19th Century. Located in the heart of the city, it is a vast expanse of green and is surrounded by moats. The palace is open only for two days a year - January 1st and December 23rd. However, walking tours of the inner palace grounds is conducted on weekdays except on special occasions. Prior approval from the Imperial Household Agency is required to join these walking tours.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Ginza Shopping Tour

Ginza Shopping Tour

Often compared with New York's Fifth Avenue, Ginza is a district situated in Chuo, Tokyo. It is known as one of the most luxurious shopping regions in Tokyo. The area is home to big department stores and almost all leading world brands have their presence here. Ginza is also famous for its bakeries and restaurants. The small allies leading off from the main road is lined with galleries exhibiting paintings and other artwork. This area is bound to quench the thirst of every shopaholic.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
Kitanomaru Park Walking Tour

Kitanomaru Park Walking Tour

The Chiyoda district is steeped in history and is a reflection of the city’s culture, both past and present. Besides several prominent historical landmarks like the Imperial Palace, the place boasts of some of the best museums in the region. The Kitanomaru Park, part of the outer gardens of the Imperial Palace, houses the National Museum of Modern Art, Science Museum and the Nippon Bodokan. The park is an ideal place to enjoy the sakura that blossoms in spring.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 km
Shibuya & Minato Nightlife

Shibuya & Minato Nightlife

An international hub and thriving cultural metropolis, Tokyo has much in store for those seeking a thrilling nightlife scene. Possessing anything from high-end nightclubs and chic lounges, to hipster hangouts and casual bars, this city has it all. Whether shopping in the trendy Ginza district or exploring the streets of the vibrant Shibuya district, a great nightspot is available for guests to let loose of their inhibitions and dance the night away. Be sure to check out all the unique locations found in the Tokyo Nightlife Tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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12 Must-Try Traditional Japanese Foods in Tokyo

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Eclectic Bars of Tokyo

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Tokyo Souvenirs: 18 Authentic Japanese Products to Buy in Tokyo

Tokyo Souvenirs: 18 Authentic Japanese Products to Buy in Tokyo

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Tokyo for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Tokyo has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Tokyo and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Greater Tokyo Pass.

Among other conveniences, this pass allows bearer to explore Tokyo's metropolitan area with unlimited rides on railways of 12 private railway companies in Kanto area, as well as buses of 51 companies in metropolitan Tokyo and surrounding 3 prefectures for 3 days!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Tokyo hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Toshi Center Hotel, The Capitol Hotel Tokyu.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Tokyo, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Tokyo typically costs somewhere between US$40+ and US$120 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Tokyo from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs).

- Attend a traditional tea ceremony, an integral part of Japanese culture, in Tokyo to perceive its sophisticated philosophy and to soak up the atmosphere and cultural highlights of this fascinating city with the help of a local guide on a jam-packed day of sightseeing in Japanese capital.

- Another good chance to absorb Tokyo's atmosphere within a shortest possible time is a 4-hour morning sightseeing tour embracing all of the city’s top highlights including major historic sights, shopping districts and otherwise colorful areas. Ideal for those on a first-time or short visit to Tokyo.

- Forget skyscrapers and transgress into the old-time, slow-paced Tokyo on a 3.5-hour guided walk through Yanaka, the historic part of the city dating back to the the Edo period, replete with charming temples and cherry blossom trees.

- Pedal your way around Tokyo on a 3-hour E-assist bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights and some hidden spots that you otherwise wouldn't have found or reached by public transport, stopping from time to time at some of the sights for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions en route from a knowledgeable group leader.

- No visit to Tokyo is complete without savoring authentic Japanese cuisine. Embark on a night food tour of Tokyo to appreciate the city’s nighttime culinary scene by getting a generous dollop of delectable local treats from selected pubs and restaurants under the watchful guidance of a local expert.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Tokyo, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi, Nikko National Park, Kamakura and Tokyo Bay, or Hakone. For as little as circa US$100 to US$300 per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and Japan’s other most famous locations, explore the breathtaking countryside outside Tokyo including one of the best sightseeing spots in the country with lots of hot springs, visit the centuries-old center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship, see the Great Buddha statue, tour the ancient temples and scenic shrines, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Tokyo, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, bullet train (Shinkansen), boat, or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.