FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Hidden Treasures Beckon in Tokyo’s Asakusa District

by Elyse Glickman

Mar 21, 2024

© QBIC Factory, Inc.

March 2024

If you find yourself in Asakusa, dig a little deeper after you have checked Sensoji Temple, Shin-Nakamise shopping street, kimono rentals and rickshaw rides off your to-do list. Your patience will be richly rewarded with the discovery of unexpected delights under the tourist radar.

Sumida Park, along the banks of the Sumida River, proves a superb place to get your bearings beyond the neighborhood’s epicenter. Paths flanked by pretty landscaping and views of Tokyo Skytree string together the shopping complex Tokyo Mizumachi and several cafés. The Sumida Hokusai Museum, dedicated to the art of Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), charts his enduring influence on Japanese art through high-definition, real-sized replicas of his most iconic works during his 90-year life in Sumida.

This area also houses Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center, an enlightening alternative to Shin-Nakamise which stages weekend demonstrations where artisans create Edo kiriko glassware, woodblock prints, Japanese woodwork and other exquisite items. Anne Kyle, whose Arigato Travel just launched its Asakusa Twilight tour, recommends Pink, a contemporary take on a Japanese culture center that offers crafting classes by day and a DJ music bar hangout by night.

Asakusa

Sumida Hokusai Museum © Bennnn | Dreamstime.com

Although the aromas of street food wafting from stalls and small shops on Shin-Nakamise may tempt you, consider holding out for family-operated restaurants on the surrounding streets specializing in specific dishes. Some of these include Sugita, serving tonkatsu, or curry cutlets; Edo Soba Teuchidokoro Asada (founded in 1854); Sushi Ken; and Kudaka Tepannyaki for its A5-grade Japanese black beef. Kyle and other locals recommend saké bar NinjaBar Asakusa and Asakusa Yokocho, a collection of festive izakayas on the fourth floor of the Uniqlo building.

A stay in one of the area’s quirky newer hotels offers added perspective on Asakusa’s evolution. The Wired Hotel Asakusa
features Zakbaran, a café-bar open to guests and non-guests and stocking snacks made from soy milk and tofu, as well as a curated 12-saké lineup. Asakusa Tobu Hotel straddles whimsy and innovation with its Hello Kitty suites and Tobu Railway Operational Simulator Room filled with the same equipment used to train professional conductors. Tobu Railway also opened PADEL TOKYO Mizumachi, a Spanish-style racquet sport facility, and Garden of the Earth, an innovative children’s playground, in 2023.

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