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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Tokyo Skytree | Time Out Tokyo

Stare up at a terrific tower...

Gaze out over the vastness of Tokyo from the 634m Tokyo Skytree's twin observatories (350m and 450m) – the upper observatory offers grand views of the whole Kanto plain – and check out the tower's evening light-ups, which illuminate the entire structure and sees twin colour patterns alternate daily. Tokyo Skytree

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Restaurants, Ramen

Take a ramen history class...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

They say shoyu ramen originated in Asakusa. Overlooked by most tourists, Yoroiya recently remodelled its interior, but the simple, aromatic 'double' (seafood- and meat-based) soup is still traditional through and through. Yoroiya

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Restaurants

Grab a ritzy rice ball...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Tokyo's oldest onigiri specialist is probably the most stylish of its kind, too: the impeccably formed rice balls are served from behind a hardwood counter resembling that of a fancy sushi joint. The lunch sets are particularly good value. Yadoroku

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Bars and pubs, Pubs

Acquire a beer belly...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

Not a museum at all, this huge beer hall has room for more than 300 imbibers but still gets packed almost every day. Choose from over 150 varieties of bottles from all over the world, including Belgian, German and Czech brands. On sunny days, check out the terrace and its Skytree views. World Beer Museum

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Restaurants, Sushi

Go crazy for sushi...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

The concepts 'high quality' and 'conveyor-belt sushi' usually don't go together, but this Hokkaido-born eatery bucks the trend with superbly fresh, spectacular-looking seafood, served up by an always cheerful bunch of chefs. Toriton

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Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

Receive bovine blessings...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

This shrine near the Skytree is a great sakura-viewing spot, but its top attraction is the 'nade-ushi', a cow statue said to have healing properties. Got an ache? Rub the corresponding body part on the cow, and its power will help you get back into shape. Ushijima Shrine

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Shopping

Compare the baumkuchen...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

It's difficult to find baumkuchen made with Jersey milk at such a reasonable price. They offer various flavours like mango, caramel and matcha, so take home a few and find your favourite. Tokyo Baumkuchen

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Attractions, Theme parks

Ride a vintage roller coaster...

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Asakusa's very own amusement park has been in business since 1883, and it shows: most rides are more nostalgic and cute than thrilling. Still, Japan's oldest steel-track roller coaster offers a fun alternative to the area's otherwise austere attractions. Hanayashiki

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Shopping, Gifts and souvenirs

Surprise the young 'uns with a vintage doll...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Looking for a kid-friendly souvenir? Officially a Japanese kite specialist, this charmingly dishevelled shop right by Kuramae Station also stocks traditional fans, kokeshi dolls, old-school toys, streamers, quirky masks and the like. Tako Kimura Shoten

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Restaurants, Cafés

Wrap your chops around a giant bun...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

A traditional sweets shop by trade, this local old-timer does most of its business selling jumbo varieties of melon pan, a melon-shaped (but not flavoured) sweet bun sold warm straight from the oven at the storefront. Go for the tea set if you're sitting down. Kagetsudo

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Restaurants, Steakhouse

Bite into a cosmopolitan patty...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Have your hamburg steak 'French' or 'Russian' style at this charmingly homely and carelessly border-crossing eatery specialising in yoshoku, Japan's traditional take on 'Western' cuisine. Locals love it, and so will you. Monburan

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Restaurants, Oden

Let traditional stew warm you up...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Oden stew is Tokyo's favourite winter food, and the venerable Otafuku does it better than most. Cultivated over a century of business, the flavours are light, delicate and diverse, making a meal here both a culinary and cultural treat. Otafuku

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mukojima hyakkaen
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Pass through the tunnel of flowers...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

This garden was created 200 years ago when Edo culture flourished. Collecting a wide range of plants and flowers, famous enough to be mentioned in Chinese or Japanese classic poems, the garden is decorated beautifully throughout the seasons. Mukojima Hyakkaen

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Restaurants, Hot pot

Devour wild game...

icon-location-pin Ryogoku

Look for the boar statue on the wall above the entrance and you'll know you're in the right place. Specialising in boar meat, this restaurant serves up a delicious shishi nabe (boar hotpot), but do try out the venison sashimi and bear soup too. Momonjiya

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Shopping

Pick up tourist tips and speciality sweets...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

Arranged by a group of travel concierges, this centre offers a wealth of info about downtown Sumida. It also stocks local specialty goods and Japanese sweets, and offers workshops that teach you about traditional handicrafts. Sumida City Point

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Kototoi Dango | Time Out Tokyo
Restaurants, Tea rooms

Sit down for a dumpling date...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

Founded in the late Edo era, Kototoi deals in dango dumplings flavoured with three varieties of bean paste and sold in packs of six or more. The nifty boxes make for great gifts, but there's also a café space for those who'd like to dig in right away. Kototoi Dango

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Bars and pubs, Craft beer pubs

Hang with beer nerds...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

This small brewery only offers high-quality, handpicked beer, including pale ale, golden ale and India pale ale. Check out their original seasonal brew, or opt for rare coffee-flavoured or yuzu-flavoured beer. Miyata Beer

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kokugido
Restaurants, Cafés

Sweeten your coffee with bean paste...

icon-location-pin Ryogoku

The shop on the ground floor of this venerable sweets dealer sells traditional snacks and sumo merchandise, while the café upstairs offers truly offbeat treats like bean paste coffee and anmitsu desserts with ice cream. Kokugido

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Komagata Dojo | Time Out Tokyo
Restaurants

Spend an evening with tiny eels...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Don't be put off by the appearance: it looks like a slimy miniature eel, but the dojo – the speciality at this 200-year old Asakusa institution – is delicious when served in a hot pot and topped with obscene amounts of negi leek. Combine with a beer for best results. Komagata Dozeu

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Restaurants, Cafés

Go back to school, eat cake...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

Housed in a wooden building that dates back to 1927, this ultra-retro café makes good use of old classroom desks and chairs, houses a tiny ceramics gallery and serves up quirky meals and sweets sure to put a smile on your face even before digging in. Koguma

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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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