19 Best Things to Do in Asakusa: Tokyo's Traditional Gem

By Avah Atherton
Updated: April 18, 2024

Asakusa, a historic neighborhood located in Tokyo, is a popular tourist destination known for its unique blend of traditional and modern cultures. The area is home to several important cultural landmarks, including the iconic Sensoji Temple and its imposing Kaminarimon Gate.

The district of Asakusa and the Sensoji Temple are closely linked; they even share the same name in both Chinese and Japanese. The name "Asakusa" is the Japanese pronunciation, while "Senso" is the Chinese pronunciation. Both names are written using the same Chinese characters 浅草, which mean "shallow grass."

Looking for somewhere to eat in Tokyo's historical neighborhood? Check out our list of must-visit restaurants in Asakusa.

Senso-ji at night

Visitors to Asakusa will be transported back in time to the Edo Period (1603–1868), with its narrow alleyways, street-side vendors selling traditional snacks like taiyaki, and the sound of clanging temple bells in the background. Whether you're a first-timer to Japan or a seasoned traveler, there is plenty to see and do in Asakusa. Here is our list of the top things to do in Asakusa, with insider tips and hidden gems to make your trip unforgettable.

Best things to do in Asakusa, Tokyo's historical district

This list includes a variety of activities and experiences, from visiting historical and cultural sites to trying traditional foods and participating in traditional activities. With our insider tips, you'll be sure to make the most of your trip to Asakusa and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

  1. Visit the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
  2. Visit the historic Sensoji Temple
  3. Explore the vibrant Nakamise shopping street
  4. Stroll along the Sumida River
  5. Take a cooking class
  6. Visit the Kappabashi Kitchen Town
  7. Experience a Japanese tea ceremony
  8. Check out the Edo-Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Hall
  9. Visit the nearby Skytree Tower
  10.  Rent a kimono
  11. Visit the Sumida Hokusai Museum
  12. Watch street performers on Rokku Broadway
  13. Try street food and/or traditional cafe
  14. Join a guided food tour
  15. Take a Japanese rickshaw ride
  16. Visit the Asakusa Geisha District
  17. Enjoy a river cruise on a yakatabune boat
  18. Learn something new
  19. Enjoy a night out in the area
  20. Attend a Japanese performance

1. Visit the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center 

View from the Asakusa visitors center

Start your visit here. The Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center is a great place to learn about the local history and culture of Asakusa. You can find information about the local sights, cultural events, and historical crafts. Their free walking tours are a great way to see the area on foot!

Pro-tip: Stop by the center for a map, free Wifi, and great views of the city.

2. Visit the historic Sensoji Temple 

Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo Japan

Sensoji is the oldest and most famous temple in Tokyo, located in the heart of Asakusa and at the top of every tourist's list of things to do in Asakusa. This iconic temple is a must-visit for any first-timer to Asakusa, as it offers a glimpse into age-old Japanese culture and religion. Pro tip: Be sure to visit the temple early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds.

Super pro tip: Head to Asakusa Shrine instead. It is less crowded than the Sensoji temple, making it a great place to experience traditional Japanese culture without the crowds.

3. Explore the vibrant Nakamise shopping street 

People look at shops on Nakamise street in Asakusa, Tokyo Japan

Nakamise is a lively shopping street lined with long-established shops and food stalls. You can find everything from conventional Japanese souvenirs and crafts to delicious street food here.

Pro tip: Be sure to bring cash, as some of the smaller shops may not accept card payments

4. Enjoy the view along the Sumida River 

Cherry blossom trees along the Sumida river

The Sumida River offers stunning views of the city skyline and is a popular spot for a leisurely walk or bike tour. There is also a water bus service that operates along the Sumida River, offering passengers a scenic view of the city and its landmarks, including the Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. It is a regular passenger service and operates throughout the day.

Pro-Tip: Book a seat on the left side of the boat for the best views of the Tokyo Skytree. 

5. Take a cooking class

Cooking class

Learn to make standard Japanese dishes with local chefs, such as sushi, tempura, and miso soup. How about this make-your-own ramen and gyoza class? Say sayonara to cup noodles!

Pro tip: For a true cultural experience, try to find a class that includes a visit to the local markets.

Check out this curated selection of cooking classes in Tokyo for more options.

6. Visit the Kappabashi Kitchen Town 

Japanese ceramic tableware store Kappabashi area of Asakusa in Tokyo, Japan

Kappabashi Kitchen Town is a shopping street specializing in high-quality kitchen gadgets and cookware. Here, you can find everything from old-fashioned Japanese kitchen knives to quirky and fun kitchen gadgets. Why not take a cooking class and bring some new recipes back home with you? We've even got a list of shops worth stopping by if you're in the market for tableware and kitchenware.

Pro tip: To get the most out of your visit, consider starting early in the morning when the shops first open. This way, you can avoid crowds and have the best selection of goods. 

7. Experience a Japanese tea ceremony 

tea ceremony

A Japanese tea ceremony is a must-do for any first-timer to Asakusa. These ceremonies are typically performed in a traditional tea house and offer a glimpse into timeless Japanese culture and etiquette.

Pro tip: Book a tea ceremony with an English-speaking host for a more immersive and educational experience. Also, wear pants so that you can sit comfortably and easily.

8. Check out the Edo-Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Hall

Japan calligraphy and ink

Edo-Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Hall is a museum dedicated to showcasing the traditional arts and crafts of Asakusa. Visitors can learn about the history and techniques behind these crafts, as well as participate in workshops to create their own souvenirs. Some of the available workshops include woodblock printing, origami, and calligraphy.

Pro tip: Book your workshop in advance to ensure availability.

9. Visit the nearby Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree and city view in Tokyo

Enjoy panoramic views of the city from Tokyo Skytree. It offers a great perspective and is a recommended place to take photos. Do it for the ‘Gram!

Pro tip: Make sure to check if any special exhibitions or events are happening at the tower, as they often offer an amazing experience (and possible discounts!).

It can be tricky to find a good place to refuel. Check out our guide on where to eat in and around Tokyo Skytree.

10. Rent a kimono

Women wearing kimono in Asakusa

In Asakusa, several shops offer kimono rental services for tourists to experience the traditional Japanese culture. These shops usually offer a wide range of kimono styles, from conventional to modern, as well as accessories such as obi (sash) and hair ornaments. Some shops also offer hair styling and makeup services, so visitors can complete the full look.

Pro tip: Compare rental fees and what is included, such as shoes and accessories before making a booking.

11. Visit the Sumida Hokusai Museum

The Sumida Hokusai Museum

The Sumida Hokusai Museum, located in the Sumida district, is dedicated to the famous Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Visitors can see some of his most famous pieces, such as The Wave and other woodblock prints, and learn about his life and legacy. Consider visiting the museum on a weekday, as weekends can be very busy. Take your time exploring the exhibits, and don’t be afraid to ask the staff questions.

12. Watch street performers on Rokku Broadway

idol group performing on Asakusa Street

Rokku Broadway is a popular street in Asakusa that is known for its street performers, who put on a variety of shows and musical acts in the evenings and on weekends. You can expect to see a variety of street performances ranging from Japanese art forms like taiko drumming, comedic skits, acrobatics, magic tricks, and more. Feel free to tip here!

13. Try street food and/or a traditional cafe


Traditional mochi and fluffy melon pan are just the start of the amazing street food available in Asakusa! But if you'd like a chance to sit and relax, Asakusa is also home to many traditional cafes and tea houses. You can enjoy desserts like anmitsu, or kakigori (shaved ice) on hot summer days.

There are even good options for vegetarians and vegans! Join a vegan food tour in Asakusa to try the best plant-based goodies in the neighborhood.

14. Join a Guided Food Tour

Asakusa food tour

Food tours are a great way to experience the local cuisine of Asakusa. This Sensoji and Asakusa food tour is family-friendly. Yay for having the kids along, but boo for having to share your food. If you're a foodie, you should try some of the local street food such as takoyaki (octopus balls), yakisoba (stir-fried noodles), the Asakusa-specialty monjayaki (savory pancake), and taiyaki.

Pro tip: If you're on a budget, consider taking a food tour during lunchtime when prices are generally lower.

15. Visit the Asakusa Geisha District 

geisha performance

See geisha performances in the Asakusa Geisha District. Make your memoirs of a geisha, hehe. These performances are a rare and fascinating glimpse into an enduring Japanese cultural heritage.

Pro tip: Try to attend a performance in the evening, as the atmosphere is typically more historical then.

16. Enjoy a river cruise on a yakatabune boat 

 yakatabune boat in Asakusa

What to do in Asakusa at night? Enjoy a river cruise on a yakatabune boat. The boat is decorated in a Japanese style and often features tatami mats, low tables, and a noren curtain. These boats typically offer delicious Japanese cuisine and scenic views of the city skyline. The nighttime lights add a different and beautiful dimension to the views of Tokyo's skyline.

Book your cruise in advance to ensure a spot, as these boats are popular and can sell out quickly.

17. Learn a traditional craft

A women makes candy shaped like a rabbit

Sign up for one of the many classes in the area such as sake brewing or candy-making. The Asakusa Sake Brewery lets you learn about the process and even sample some of its products. Join one of the plastic-food model classes offered by sweet shops in the area. Take home a special souvenir from your trip to Asakusa with a plastic model replica of something you ate! Why not learn to make something edible, like in this candy sculpting class?

Pro tip: Be sure to book your class in advance, as some classes fill up quickly.

18. Enjoy a night out in the area

Asakusa bar hoping group

Experience Japanese bar culture and try some of the local drinks and snacks. Try Hoppy beer, a leftover brew from World War 2, on Hoppy street to start your night.

Pro tip: If you’re not familiar with the local bar culture, consider asking for recommendations from locals or your hotel staff. Or join a guided bar-hopping tour. If you see us behind you, say nothing.

19. Attend a Japanese performance

Exhibition of the kabuki theatre garnments and backgrounds in the Edo Tokyo Museum.

Asakusa is home to several Japanese theaters, such as the Asakusa Engei Hall and the Asakusa Public Hall. These theaters host performances such as rakugo (traditional Japanese comic storytelling), bunraku (Japanese puppet theater), and kabuki (a classical Japanese dance-drama). The performances offer a look into the history and traditions of Japan. Put this at the top of your things-to-do-in-Asakusa list!

Pro tip: Some of these may be conducted in Japanese only but don’t let that stop you! Check the schedule in advance to find multilingual options.

For first-time visitors especially, spending a day in Asakusa and immersing yourself in the culture is a must. Or, if it's your second time in Japan and you want to explore this cultural hub more in-depth, then consider making it your home base. Travelers can find a variety of accommodation types on JAPANiCAN. Whether you're hitting Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto only or venturing out to areas less traveled by.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Avah Atherton
Avah, a proud Trinidadian, has a meat mouth, a sweet tooth, and a mission to find good food and great experiences. Based in Tokyo, she enjoys long walks (especially if they lead to somewhere delicious), reading, live performances, and art exhibitions.
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