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...

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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

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...

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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, Gifts and souvenirs

Pick up a trendy tenugui...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Tenugui (traditional Japanese hand towels made from dyed cotton cloth) are back in vogue and here you'll find classic patterns and seasonal motifs such as flying carp streamers and fireworks. Wear one as an accessory or hang it up on the wall as a part of your decor. Kamawanu Asakusa

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Things to do, Walks and tours

Hop on a human-powered ride...

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Seeing Asakusa's sights from a rickshaw has become uber-popular among tourists in recent years. The energetic pullers are also highly qualified tour guides, telling stories about the sights while ferrying you to both the area's main attractions and hidden spots known only to locals. Ebisuya Rickshaw Asakusa

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Restaurants

Explore the world of beer-like beverages...

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The short street between Denboin-dori and the Richmond Hotel is lined with dirt-cheap izakayas, some of which open from as early as noon. Follow the regulars and order some motsu nikomi (stewed pork guts) to go with your Hoppy, the retro beer substitute that gave this street its name. Hoppy Street

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Yoshoku and Chinese Echigoya
Restaurants, Chinese

Choose downtown delights..

icon-location-pin Kameido

Run by the same family for 120 years, this no-frills teishoku eatery boasts a wonderful old-school atmosphere and endlessly cheery waitresses. If you're really hungry, go for the voluminous tonkatsu cutlet with potato salad. Echigoya

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Daikokuyu
Health and beauty, Saunas and baths

Peer at the Skytree while naked...

icon-location-pin Oshiage

Here's a quirky way to view the Skytree – from the Daikoku-yu bathhouse's terrace. After gazing at the landmark, head inside to soak up the retro-flavoured ambience and admire the red Mt Fuji mural. Daikoku-yu

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Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Enjoy a certified cheesecake...

icon-location-pin Mukojima

Owned by a born-and-bred local eager to liven up his 'hood, this comfy joint has earned a steady following over the decade it's been open. Don't miss the no-bake cheesecake, certified as a 'Sumida Modern' dessert by the local authorities. Higashi-Mukojima Coffee-ten

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Things to do, Walks and tours

Board a sci-fi boat...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Want to see Tokyo from the water? Your best bet is a cruise down the Sumida River with one of these regularly operating boats – our favourite is the futuristic Hotaluna, which carries you from Asakusa to Hinode Pier or all the way to Odaiba. Tokyo Cruise

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kamameshi mutsumi
Restaurants

Join the locals, savour steamed specialities...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Tatami flooring lends a relaxed mood to this kama (small pot) eatery where simple, homely meals are enjoyed by patrons of all ages. First-timers will want to go for the 'gomoku kamameshi', a mix of seafood, chicken and veg steamed with rice. Kamameshi Mutsumi

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Restaurants, Thai

Order a Bangkok-style bite...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Dig into simple but supremely aromatic and flavourful Thai street food at this no-frills joint found along one of the area's more obscure indoor alleyways. Don't let the plastic stools and gaudy colour scheme put you off – the grub is as authentic as it gets. Montee

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campionale
Bars and pubs, Craft beer pubs

Sip on freshly made suds...

icon-location-pin Asakusa

Those looking for craft beer should try this brewpub which flies the flag for British-style beer and classic pub grub. Up to five varieties of homemade ale are available every day – just look at the beer tanks behind the bar for an overview of the offerings. Campion Ale

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