Thursday, January 9, 2020

Food for the Eyes and Food for the Mouth at Asakusa

We were staying at Oak Hostel Fuji, just half a kilometer east of Asakusa. No doubt a visit to Asakusa was part of the itinerary.

Food for the Eyes

First up was the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. FIRST UP literally because we zoomed past the information desk and the display of brochures on the ground floor and headed straight to the 8th floor for a view of Nakamise Shopping Street and Senso-ji to the north, and Tokyo Skytree to the east. (Also on the 8th floor is a cafe, but we didn't go to that floor to feed our mouth, but to feed our eyes.)

Kaminarimon Gate and Nakamise Shopping Street

From our 8th floor perch, we swooped down the elevator to see Nakamise Shopping Street up close. We joined the gaggle of tourists swarming Senso-ji's Kaminarimon Gate. (Chotto matte, before entering the gate to go to Nakamise, do a 180-degree turn and admire the architectural design of Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. We did.)

Nakamise Shopping Street is, duh, a shopping street: the path from Kaminarimon Gate down to Hozomon Gate (Senso-ji's second gate) is lined with souvenir shops and food stalls on both sides!

 Nakamise Shopping Street

(If you abhor crowds and don't care much for shopping, trade the crowds with murals on the shops' rollup shutter doors by visiting Nakamise early in the morning or late at night, when the shops are closed.)

Murals on shutter doors of shops

Senso-ji or Asakusa Kannon Temple has a main hall, a five-storied pagoda, four small halls/buildings, and three gates (including Kaminarimon and Hozomon), all painted red. Senso-ji, completed in 645, is Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple! (If you're not afraid to read your fortune and to part with your 100 yen, try your luck with Sensoji's omikuji, a fortune telling paper—Senso-ji has omikuji in English.)


How to draw omikuji

After visiting Senso-ji, we traced our steps back along Nakamise, but turned right at Denpoin Street. It wasn't the goods that attracted us (the shops were already closed), but the storefronts and the paintings on the stores' rollup shutter doors, made to transport you to Japan of old.

Denpoin Street

Storefronts along Denpoin Street

Before crossing Sumida River, the river which separates Taito City (where Asakusa is) from Sumida City (where our hostel, Oak Hostel Fuji, is located), we took some snapshots of the great yellow poop Asahi Flame on the Asahi Beer Hall. Oh, and Tokyo Skytree, too.

Tokyo Skytree and Asahi Beer Hall

Food for the Mouth

There are many food stalls along Nakamise Shopping Street, but we only tried taiyaki at Kurikoan, and age manju (deep fried mochi) at Asakusa Kokonoe. We had to leave some space for dinner...

Different flavors of taiyaki at Kurikoan

Asakusa Kokonoe Ganzosushi, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant near Asakusa Station. Would you believe it's my fifth visit to Japan but my first time to eat at a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant?! *facepalm*


Sushi plates at Ganzosushi cost 95 yen up to 600 yen (each plate color/design has a corresponding price). I picked anything that caught my fancy and I ended up picking really expensive—and very delicious—ones!

Delicious sushi!

Across the street from Ganzosushi is Exit 8 of Asakusa Station. So what, you ask? Well, well, well, this is the portal to Asakusa Chikagai, an underground shopping area with restaurants and bars (and a bank of coin lockers).

Entrance to Asakusa Chikagai

A bar at Asakusa Chikagai

I explored Asakusa Chikagai when I went looking for Tobu Tourist Information Center (more on that after this Japanecdote). The first thing I saw when I went down the steps to Asakusa Chikagai was the stand-up noodle shop called 文殊 Monju. There was only one customer. I checked the menu, it was in English, and when I turned to the machine to place my order I couldn't figure out how to use it, it was in Japanese. The lone customer helped me order kakiage (noodles, choice of soba or udon, with vegetables and seafood tempura) for only 390 yen. The man behind the counter asked me where I'm from and when he found out I'm from the Philippines, he made chitchat with all the Filipino words he dug up from his brain while I furiously blew on my very hot soba noodles.

 By the time I left, the stand-up noodle shop had attracted a couple more customers

Cheap eats


There is no food in Tobu Tourist Information Center Asakusa, but this information might or might not be useful for you, so I am including it in this post about Asakusa. Tobu Tourist Information Center is located in the Ekimise building, behind Exit 8 of Asakusa Station, and it is where you can buy discount passes for Nikko. You're welcome.

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Sa May Kanto (2019)
Pocket WiFi: Japan Wireless
Keisei Skyliner and Tokyo Subway Tickets
Tokyo Accommodations: Oak Hostel Fuji, Hostel Owl Tokyo Nippori, Centurion Ladies Hostel  Ueno Park
Food for the Eyes and Food for the Mouth at Asakusa (you're here!)
A Day at Ueno Park
Tokyo Sights Using the Toei 1-Day Pass
Teamlab Borderless
Escape to Mount Takao

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