Tokyo walks: Asakusa to Kuramae

From Kaminarimon Gate towards Kuramae Station

Walking is a great way to explore Tokyo. Go for a walk and keep your eyes open.

Start your walk in Asakusa at the famous red Kaminarimon Gate that marks the entrance to Senso-ji Temple. If you have questions about getting around or need a map, ask at the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center located across the street from the gate.

First time visitors to Asakusa usually take a quick tour of the main sights at Senso-ji Temple, walking towards the Main Hall. But we are going in the opposite direction. Turn away from the temple grounds with your back to the gate and walk down the street that leads straight up to it.

Very soon you will pass a satellite shop for goods from Hokkaido Prefecture on the right side, called “Marugoto Hokkaido”. This shop sells sweets, snacks, seafood, Hokkaido versions of instant ramen, and soft ice-cream. Last week they had soft serve in Yubari Melon flavor.

A little further down the street is the old soba shop “Namiki Yabusoba”. This place has been in business for over 100 years making soba noodles, a Tokyo favorite. The restaurant is located in a smaller white building with sliding doors and a big wooden sign over the entrance.

Continuing on you will see Komagata-bashi, one of the bridges across Sumida River. The bridge is named after the Komagata ferry that used to operate here. From the bridge you have an excellent view of the red Azuma-bashi Bridge upstream, Tokyo Skytree, and the golden building that houses the Asahi Breweries Headquarters.

Next to the bridge stands Komagata-do Hall. Although it is a little outside the main temple grounds, Komagata-do belongs to Senso-ji Temple and the Komagata area derives its name from it. You will recognize the red color from Kaminarimon Gate. The hall stands where the statue of Bodhisattva Kannon that is enshrined at Senso-ji Temple was found in 636.

A little further down the street is the World Bags & Luggage Museum. Take a look at the collection if you are interested in fashion or travel. With its exhibits the museum introduces the history of bags and how the shape and function of luggage changed with the times.

On the next block is one of the many Japanese coffee shops in the area. Japanese coffee shops tend to take their coffee making very seriously and prepare each cup carefully. This one is a cute local shop and it has the fun name “More Joy”.

Next to it is another restaurant with a long history. For over 200 years “Komakata Dozeu” has been serving dishes made with “dojo” (loach). People often line up outside and take picture at the entrance. Dojo is typical for Edo, the old Tokyo. Dojo fish is served as Dojo Nabe cooked with sake and soy sauce and as Yanagawa Nabe with eggs added to the broth. Try this specialty if you like seafood.

Then you will pass the building of toymaker Bandai. Outside the Bandai headquarter stand life-size sculptures of a number of popular characters from anime and games. You can take pictures here standing next to Anpanman, Ultraman, Doraemon, or Goku from Dragon Ball.

The next big crossing is the one in front of Umaya-bashi Bridge. You can often see “yakatabune” boats on Sumida River here that serve Japanese meals during a cruise down to Tokyo Bay. In the summer one of the two venues of the Sumida River Fireworks is near this bridge and you also have a good view of Tokyo Skytree. The path along the river is a good place to go running.

McLean Old Burger Stand is a small shop located in front of Umaya-bashi Bridge. This place has quickly become popular with locals. In addition to their regular menu they also have a Monthly Burger and a daily special. This February the Monthly Burger is a Cream Clam Chowder Burger with clam chowder sauce.

Take a walk around and explore also the smaller streets. You can find more cafés, bakeries, and restaurants. We will come back to explore the Kuramae area between Asakusa and Asakusabashi.

You can find more info about local spots on http://authentic-tokyo.com the website introducing places in the neighborhoods of Tokyo’s Taito Ward.

by David

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