5. Ride on a 人力車(jinrikisha=rickshaw)
You would notice that there are many rickshaws parked on the street around Asakusa station. If you don’t want to walk too much for sightseeing in Asakusa, I would recommend riding on a rickshaw. The tour cost is not cheap, it would be a nice experience for you. My friend and I tried the cheapest tour (2,000 yen for fifteen minutes per one person). There are several courses and the price is different depending on how many minutes you would like to ride. We told the guide that we were planning to go to Kappabashi area (next to Asakusa), and he agreed, and took us as fur as he could in fifteen minutes. The speed of the rickshaw was faster than we thought and he explained some spots in Asakusa with their history. It was also nice that he took some pictures of us when we asked him to stop. I’m not sure how much he or other guides can speak English, but I hope their English is good enough for telling good things about Asakusa.
4.Visit 浅草寺 Senso-ji temple
It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, and there is five-story pagoda and the Asakusa Shinto shrine in the same site. The temple is dedicated to the Kannon. According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in 628 by brothers Hamanari Hinokuma and Takenari Hinokuma when they were fishing. Their master, Nakatomo/Manakachi Hajino worshipped this statue, and he remodeled his house to a temple after he became a priest. This was the beginning of Senso-ji temple. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt many times, and the current temple was built after World WarⅡ.
Omikuji is random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. You can try omikuji at other shrines and temples, but omikuji at Sensoji-temple is written in Japanese and English. Firstly, pay a one-hundred-yen coin, and take one stick from a box. The stick has a number, and pick up a piece of paper from the draw with the number you chose. My number was seventy-seven and my fortune showed…凶(bad luck) !!! (>_<)
大吉 (daikichi = the best luck)
中吉 (chukishi = middle luck)
小吉 (shokishi = small luck)
吉 (kichi = normal luck)
末吉 (suekichi = luck is running out)
凶 (kyou = bad luck)
大凶 (daikyou = the worst luck)
If you pick bad luck or worst luck like me, please don’ worry. There are sacred places that you can fold up your bad luck fortune paper so that your bad luck would turn into good luck.
3.Eat imo-youkan at Funawa café
Funawa’s café, the shop is just in front of Asakusa station. Funawa is famous for 芋羊羹 imo-youkan. Youkan is one of Japanese traditional desserts, and it is a bar of sweet jellied red bean paste. However, this imo-youkan is different from normal youkan since sweet potato paste is used instead of red bean paste, and it is not like jelly at all. (It’s just like a sweet potato paste.) My friend ordered funawa parfait (sweet potato-flavored ice cream, sweet potato paste, corn flakes, ice cream, diced imo-youkan), and I ordered imo-youkan, anko-dama (a round shaped sweet bean paste), sweet potato pudding and hot milk with sweet potato paste.
You can get the dessert to take away except funawa parfait.
2.Shopping at 仲見世通りNakamise-dori
The Nakamise-dori is a street on the way to Senso-ji temple. There are fifty-four shops at east side and thirty-five at west side, and most of the shops sell souvenirs or snacks. There is a funawa shop in the street, so you can buy imo-youkan here if you don’t have time to go to funawa café.
One of famous snacks at Nakamise-dori is 揚げまんじゅう(age-manju = deep fried bun with bean paste filling.) My friend and I went to the shop called九重(kokono-e). There are some flavors, such as red-bean(strained paste or not strained), matcha, custard cream, black sesame, curry, chocolate, sweet potato, pumpkin, sakura, etc.
1.Take some pictures in front of Kaminari-mon, the famous symbol in Asakusa
The main gate called Kaminari-mon is the famous symbol in Asakusa, and it is a photogenic place. The gate is a part of Sensouji temple, but I think this gate is more well-known than the temple itself. Kaminari means thunder in Japanese and there are two statues of gods, the right side is Fujin and Raijin. Fujin is the god of wind and Raijin is the god of thunder. The big red lantern doesn’t grlow, unfortunately, but it’s still worth seeing it. “Hang on! There are two statues of gods, but why is this gate called just Kaminari-mon?” It’s a good question. The official name of this gate is 風雷神門(Furaijin mon, Fu=wind, rai=thunder, jin=god, mon=gate), and the back side of the lantern show the name. However, it is said people prefer a simple name and they call the gate just Kaminari-mon.
The first kamonari-mon was built in 941, but the gate had been destroyed and rebuilt several times due to fire. The current gate was built in 1960 by the donation from Konosuke Matsushita.
Witness the relationship between Kaminari-mon and Panasonic.
パナソニック(Panasonic Corporation) is a Japanese company that creates multinational electronics. The former name was (松下電器産業) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.,Ltd. The founder, 松下幸之助Konosuke Matsushita donated Kaminari-mon and the giant lantern to Sensoji-temple in 1960 since he believed that he recovered from sickness thanks to the temple. The company’s name changed from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.,Ltd to Panasonic Corporation in 2008, the nameplate of the lantern still shows the former name and Matsushita’s name.
There is Japan’s oldest amusement park called Hanayashiki in Asakusa. It is very small and all the rides are for children, but it would be nice to go there if you would like to know what kind of amusement park it is.