Asakusa is of course best known for its famous Senso-ji temple which we have chosen as the subject of this article to introduce our readers to this very touristy district, although it is far from being one of our favorite places in Tokyo (we like the western part of the capital better). We feel that it actually lacks authenticity with its garish displays and its overabundance of shops.
First of all, let us mention this long commercial lane called Nakamise-dori, which runs from the majestic Kaminari-mon gate to the main temple building. Its cheap junk merchants, we heard through the grapevine, have been charging inflated prices for centuries! In an area overflowing with swarms of tourists (mainly Chinese and Korean) throughout the year, no wonder shopkeepers are all the nastier for it. Unfortunately, one very seldom gets a warm welcome in tourist areas.
Another surprising offer is for jinrikisha or rickshaws which are priced up to 9,000 yens (~US$ 83.30) per half-hour! A high price to pay for being taken around in such densely crowded surroundings. If you are keen on riding a rickshaw, we recommend a ride along the paths of Sagano in Kyoto.
Concerning the pagodas and buildings of the Senso-ji temple, there is no denying that they were superbly rebuilt after World War II. They are also perfectly maintained and lit up and, although no signs of tradition hang about them, they offer a postcard picture right in the heart of Tokyo. Those visitors who will not be provided with the opportunity to go outside of Tokyo during their stay are sure to enjoy the place.
While you are there anyway, just cross the road opposite Kaminarimon and climb to the top of the tourist office to enjoy the pretty view over Senso-ji.
How to get to Senso-ji
By subway -- Tokyo Metro Ginza or Asakusa line, Asakusa station (G19 or A18) and 3 minute walk
By train -- Tobu Isesaki Line, Asakusa station and 3 minute walk
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
Open daily from 6am to 5pm (open at 6:30am between October and March)
How long / when to visit
Allow one to two hours