65 things to do in Asakusa

There's more to Asakusa than Sensoji and the Skytree – find the best things to do with our complete guide to the area

Hoppy Street | Time Out Tokyo
Things to do in Asakusa #56: Explore the world of beer-like beverages
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
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Home to Sensoji, metropolitan Tokyo’s oldest and buzziest temple, Asakusa is one of the most tourist-infested parts of old Tokyo. Its appeal was further boosted by the 2012 opening of nearby Tokyo Skytree, which stands on the opposite side of the Sumida River, and has become an essential stop on every city newcomer's itinerary.

If you're looking to dodge the hordes and discover another side of Asakusa, read on: our guide to the best things to do in the area features not only Asakusa but also the less thoroughly explored streets on the east side of the Sumida River, from Mukojima and the Skytree all the way down to Kameido and Ryogoku. It invites you to discover the shitamachi's culture of craftsmanship, its newly trendy cafés, tasty eateries and bars, plus a few hidden gems known only to locals.

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Restaurants, Indian

Satisfy a curry craving...

icon-location-pin Sumida

Long loved by curry maniacs, this café has been fashioned from a traditional wooden house. Choose from chicken, coconut and mutton dishes or if you're feeling particularly greedy, order the 'Pair Curry Lunch' and enjoy two flavours at once. Spice Cafe

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Restaurants

Embark on a world tour of street food...

icon-location-pin Kameido

From Mexican, Filipino and Nepali grub to 'medicinal cuisine' and flavours from the Japanese countryside, this narrow alley is lined with a wonderful mess of tiny eateries and workers' caffs, some of which also stay open for lunch and late at night. Kameido Yokocho

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Shopping, Gifts and souvenirs

Graduate from pocket tissues...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Up your handkerchief game with a traditional tenugui, available here in vivid colours, with seasonal themes and trendy modernist imagery. So pretty you'll think twice before using one to blow your nose. Tenugui Fujiya

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nana's green tea
Restaurants, Cafés

Catch your breath with matcha...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

Disrupt your coffee routine and go for some extra-thick green tea instead. The slick and stylish Nana's also serves up traditional desserts flavoured with matcha and hojicha (roasted green tea) – including tea drinks topped with whipped cream and kuromitsu syrup. Nana's Green Tea

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Attractions, Parks and gardens

See the riverside blossoms...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Flanking both sides of the Sumida River, this park offers a welcoming retreat after you've worn yourself out sightseeing in nearby Asakusa. Spring is the best time to visit, when more than 1,000 sakura trees lining both banks burst into bloom. Sumida Park

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Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

Snap a selfie at the thunder gate...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Tokyo's oldest temple is said to have been founded around 1,400 years ago, and continues to attract a steady stream of worshippers. The Nakamise shopping arcade and the Kaminarimon ('Thunder Gate') are some of Asakusa's most iconic sights. Sensoji Temple

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Attractions, Zoos and aquariums

Gape at fish swimming in art...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

Opened in 2012 inside the Solamachi mall at the foot of the Skytree, this 'urban aquarium' isn't hugely spacious, but features plenty of both educational and visually impressive exhibits. The regular events are worth checking out, too. Sumida Aquarium

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Restaurants, Soba

Have soba with your coffee...

icon-location-pin Sumida

Coffee and soba noodles are an unlikely combo, but both taste best in artisanal form – which is exactly how you'll get them at this charmingly old-school establishment, found inside a 70-year-old wooden townhouse. Nagaya Sabo Tenshinan

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Shopping

Taste a 300-year-old recipe...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

This single-item store was founded in 1717 by the father of sakuramochi – a pink rice cake (mochi) with a sweet red bean paste centre, all wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf. Peel off the leaf to take in the sakura aroma, and then eat the mochi with the leaf for the perfect combo of sweet and salty. Chomeiji Sakuramochi

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Restaurants, Cafés

Embrace halal living...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

The fusion menu here, which includes everything from sandwiches to steak, is put together with 100% halal ingredients, and those looking for meat-free options will find plenty to choose from as well. Sekai Cafe

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Restaurants, Steakhouse

Wrap up your day with steak...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

The chunky steak here is cooked to perfection and is very reasonably priced. Go for Japanese wagyu for the ultimate beefy flavour or try the omurice and fried prawns for lighter meals. Restaurant Katayama

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Sky Duck
Things to do

Drive into the river...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

When a conventional tour just won’t do, hop aboard this amphibious bus, which plies the streets around the Skytree before going for a swim in the nearby river. The Sky Duck departs three times a day (four during summer) from a stop close to Tokyo Skytree Station. Sky Duck

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asakusa batting stadium
Sport and fitness, Baseball

Hit a home run...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Blow off some steam after work by swinging at mechanical pitches or perfect your fastball in the bullpen – this batting centre is instantly recognisable by the giant glove above the entrance and stays open until 1am every day. Asakusa Batting Stadium

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Restaurants, Japanese

Throw an Edo-style barbecue party...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

The 'Edo-style cuisine' on offer here may be heavily adapted to contemporary tastes, but grilling your own grub over a charcoal hearth is always fun and makes for a great icebreaker. For the full experience, consider investing in the wild game course. Sakurada

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Restaurants, Cafés

Guess what's for lunch...

icon-location-pin Sumida

This café sits inside a 90-year-old house and switches up the chefs each day so that the menu changes often – one day you might order an organic lunch, the next you might tuck into a Hawaiian dish. At night, it turns into a bar, hosting various gigs and other events. Reptile Branch

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Things to do, Classes and workshops

Channel your inner Hokusai...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Canada-born printmaker David Bull runs Mokuhankan, a wonderful little shop specialising in traditional woodblock prints. Join one of the in-store 'print parties' and create your very own piece to take home – it's a lot easier than it sounds. Mokuhankan

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Health and beauty, Saunas and baths

Visit an old-school sento...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

Though the sento industry is apparently on a decline, Okame-yu has been preserving its traditional ambience since 1951. They even still heat up their water over fire! Okame-yu

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Museums

Learn more about smokes and sodium...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

The tenuous rationale for this unique museum's pairing of themes is that both were once government monopoly commodities. Tobacco gets the most exposure, with much of the space devoted to the history, manufacture and culture of the killer leaf. Look out for the rotating special exhibitions, too – these can be real pieces of work. Tobacco & Salt Museum

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kataoka byobuten
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Marvel at pretty partitions...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

The only shop in Tokyo specialising in traditional folding screens, Kataoka houses a showroom and holds classes on the structure and production of these practical pieces of art. Bookings are required for both the showroom and workshops. Kataoka Byobuten

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Mugitoro | Time Out Tokyo
Restaurants, Japanese

Queue up for a gooey buffet...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Mugitoro's ¥1,000 all-you-can-eat lunch is popular both among locals and domestic tourists of the older generation – the barley rice and super-sticky grated yam it's served with make for a super-healthy and filling meal. Mugitoro

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Shopping

Complete your souvenir hunt...

icon-location-pin Kameido

Besides selling locally made goods, this store features an ukiyo-e gallery and exhibits Edo Kiriko, traditional glass art that makes for a beautiful gift. Kameido Umeyashiki

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Kappabashi
Shopping

Wander around every chef's dream district...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Looking to set up a restaurant? You'll find everything you need in the neighbourhood also known as 'Kitchen Town' – from pots, dishes and knives to colourful storefront lanterns, noren curtains and the unmissable plastic food samples. Kappabashi

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Shopping

Upgrade your kitchen knife...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

They say using a proper chef's knife will revolutionise your cooking experience, and after trying out some of the blades on offer at this venerable specialist dealer, we're inclined to agree. The multilingual staff help you pick out the perfect one. Kama Asa

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Restaurants, Gyoza

Nod for gyoza...

icon-location-pin Kameido

You need only give a simple nod and your waitron will appear with another gyoza plate. Each portion is only ¥250 and comes with five of these crispy dumplings – perfect for an easy appetiser or, if you order a few, a full meal. Kameido Gyoza

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Restaurants, Okonomiyaki

Fry some soul food...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Comfort food in a funky wooden shack, within easy walking distance of the tourist sights. This spot can get incredibly sweaty in summer, but when you’re sitting round the okonomiyaki pan, the intimate atmosphere is wonderfully authentic. Sometaro

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caricature asakusa
Things to do

Be an artist's model...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

The cheery artists here can recreate your mug in around ten minutes. Choose from monochrome and colour versions first, then just sit back, relax and let the magic happen. They have another branch at the Tokyo Solamachi complex, too. Caricature Japan Asakusa Shop

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Shopping

Fall for fake food...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

You've seen them displayed in glass cases outside restaurants: Japan's plastic food samples are quickly becoming hot property among tourists on the hunt for memorable souvenirs. Get your fake food keyrings and magnets here. Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya

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Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

Update your luck...

icon-location-pin Kameido

Dedicated to the 'god of learning', Sugawara no Michizane, this shrine is popular amongst students. Every January, you can trade in your wooden bullfinch (a 'lucky bird') for a new one, to 'update' your luck. Kameido Tenjin Shrine

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Art

Glimpse the next art trend...

icon-location-pin Ryogoku

Focusing on unique young artists, this gallery introduces a wide range of art in all genres, Many upcoming artists and curators seek to exhibit here, so you might be setting eyes on the next big trend. Gallery MoMo Ryogoku

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Things to do, Classes and workshops

Create your own unique souvenirs...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Feeling creative? Step into this small neighbourhood workshop and try your hand at designing traditional Japanese glass beads. These tonbodama are infinitely customisable, and you can choose your favourite style from a wide range of options. Reservations required. Asakusa Tonbodama Kobo

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