Tokyo Travel: Day 2 in Asakusa Celebrating Popular Shrine Festival with locals!

Hey there, check out Day 2 of my Tokyo travel! You’ll see me splitting my time equally between Asakusa and Ueno districts, both of which are located near where I stayed in the North-eastern part of Tokyo (@Akihabara).

To be honest, I was surprised to find myself having so much fun in Asakusa, a place I’d initially contemplated skipping. 

Kaminarimon Gate Asakusa
Day 2 in Asakusa!

Before I unveil my “Day 2” itinerary, let me do a broad sharing of my 9-day travel plan in Tokyo. Here’s how I would split my 9 days by location:

  • 3 Nights in Akihabara: Visit Asakusa, Ueno, Tokyo Station, Ginza and Akihabara
  • 3 Nights in Hakone: Complete Hakone tourist loop, stay in Ryokan & Onsen everyday! :)
  • 3 Nights in Shibuya: Explore Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku. Buy lots of things!

You may also want to read Day 1’s post on why I craved for a solo trip. Done that? Great, let’s proceed with Day 2 Tokyo itinerary!

Don’t miss these posts!

 


Getting 2-day Tokyo Subway Pass

(10am)

In my Day 1 post, I’d mentioned about how useful the Tokyo Subway Pass was in helping to shave my transport costs significantly. I’d earlier purchased the pass online via Klook, prior to arriving in Japan. 

To get the physical subway pass, I had to find the right ticketing kiosk and let the machine scan a QR code on my e-voucher. However, it took me 30 minutes to find that kiosk! 

As you see, I was circling around the wrong and more prominent-looking JR line entrance. In the end, I found that “right” ticketing kiosk at the Hibya line entrance to Akihabara Station.

Getting Tokyo Subway Pass
Got my Tokyo Subway Pass from Hibya Line entrance (to Akihabara Station)
Getting Tokyo Subway Pass
Can only redeem Tokyo Subway Pass from a specific kiosk (the one with a circular red logo on top-right of screen).

This makes sense in hindsight as it’s logical for Tokyo Subway pass to be “redeemed” at the train lines where it can be used. Hibya line comes under Tokyo Metro Line which is one of the lines covered by the Tokyo subway pass. 

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP: I’d tried asking for hardcopy of Tokyo Subway Map at many train stations and non of them had it in English. Therefore, you may want to download a soft copy of the map into your phone.

Yay! With the Tokyo Subway Pass on hand, I was all ready to venture to the first destination – Asakusa!

Tokyo Travel Solo Trip
My 2-day Tokyo Subway Pass

 


Asakusa Itinerary: 11 Things to do in Asakusa! 

Would you visit a place knowing it would be darn crowded? Sanja Matsuri, said to be the most popular shrine festival in Tokyo happened to take place during the same period that I would be visiting Asakusa.

According to online info, about two million people would visit Asakusa during the festival!

I’d contemplated skipping Asakusa totally as I was still “scarred” by the “Dragon Bridge” experience during my trip in Da Nang. Luckily I didn’t as the experience at Asakusa was one of the most memorable ones I’ve enjoyed in this Tokyo 2023 trip. 

And the crowd was quite manageable actually! It didn’t get to a point where I felt like my personal space was invaded. 

Now, let’s look at the many places or experiences I’ve enjoyed at Asakusa, in chronological order!

#1. Kan’non-dori Shopping Street (Sheltered)

(10.30am)

After alighting at Asakusa station, I found myself in a bustling sheltered walkway that was lined with malls and restaurants.

Kan’non-dori Shopping Street seemed like a nice place to have a sit-down proper meal, but I have limited stomach space and wanted to reserve it for later. :)

Kan’non-Dori Shopping Street
Kan’non-Dori Shopping Street in Asakusa

#2. Obligatory Photo @ Kaminarimon Gate

Soon, I was at Kaminarimon, a popular gate that leads to the even more popular Senso-ji Temple. You’ll see many ladies (and men) dressed in traditional Japanese costume getting their photos taken.

For me (a solo traveller), I could only do selfie. :)

Kaminarimon Gate Asakusa

Kaminarimon Gate Asakusa
Selfie at Kaminarimon Gate

# 3. Street food and Souvenirs @ Nakamise-dori Street

Walking though the Kaminarimon gate brought me to the most touristy street in Asakusa, at Nakamise-dori street. In case you thought I meant it in a negative way, I actually enjoyed the street.

It has a lot of interesting street food and souvenirs. Let’s check out what my little tummy could take in! 

Nakamise-Dori Street

Tokyo Curry Pan (Bun)

Actually, I was quite hungry by the time I reached Asakusa. With so many food in sight, the indecisive me couldn’t decide what to get for the first bite. 

It helped when I saw a local boy queuing at this Tokyo Curry Pan stall (see location). The selling point was how stretchy the cheese within the curry-filled pan was (¥500). 

Yes, it was fun with the stretchy cheese and all, and I enjoyed the bun though this must be one of the least touristy food at Nakamise-dori street (maybe not for long). :) 

Recommended Street food at Nakamise-Dori Street
Stretchy cheese in a curry bun!

Hand-made Rice Crackers

This felt a little like a tourist trap, as you’ll see some elderly ladies (not sure if they are “planted”) selling rice crackers (see location).

They highly recommended the “Laver” or seaweed rice crackers which also turned out to be the most pricey on the menu (I later saw cheaper rice crackers further down the street).

Street food at Nakamise-Dori Street
Auntie recommended seaweed cracker which she was pointing at

I didn’t enjoy the rice cracker then (maybe not after eating tasty curry?). But surprisingly, after keeping the half-eaten cracker in the fridge for a few days, the cracker was more crispy and enjoyable.

Asakusa Itinerary
Seaweed rice cracker – street food in Asakusa

Uniquely-flavoured Nuts

I’m so glad I bought these uniquely-flavoured nuts, because these turned out to be the only food I managed to bring home from Japan. Sob! Will explain why later.

There were many flavours to choose from. I chose Green Apple peanuts (¥400) and Wasabi cashews (¥500), both of which tasted great!

Recommended food at Nakamise-Dori Street
Flavoured nuts – you can sample before buying

Food I missed due to small stomach

I also took photos of the food I’d intended to buy later (on return trip), but missed due to limited stomach space. Check out these items! 

Street food at Nakamise-Dori Street
Mochi stuffed with big strawberry
Asakusa Street Food
Confectionary items

Souvenirs and Trinkets

At Nakamise-dori Street, you’ll find either food or souvenirs. Here are some of the cute souvenirs on sale. Things to do in Asakusa

 

Asakusa Nakamise-dori Street

#4. Festival on Street (Parade of Portable Shrines)

Can you see the crowd? As part of the Sanja Matsuri Festival, men in Edo Period costumes would carry portable shrines and shake them violently during the parade. I read that it is to bring good fortune to businesses and residents.

Nakamise-Dori Street during Sanja Matsuri Festival
Can you see the shrine from afar?

At one point in time, I couldn’t move forward and quickly retreated into a small parallel alley to continue my way towards Senso-ji Temple.

Nakamise-Dori Street during Sanja Matsuri Festival
Everyone stuck here, waiting for shrine to make its way towards the temple

Here’s the shrine in close view which I found resting at a small alley – maybe it needed a rest too! :)

Asakusa Sanja Matsuri Festival
Shrine resting at a small alley

Many people wore traditional costumes and it really made the experience a unique and memorable one. My deepest memory was of men in super short shorts. :)

Nakamise-Dori Street during Sanja Matsuri Festival
Locals in traditional costumes during Sanja Matsuri

There were also traditional performance taking place in the streets of Asakusa, such as a musical performance.

Nakamise-Dori Street during Sanja Matsuri Festival
Traditional musical performance

#5. Hozomon Gate (Inner Gate)

(11.30am)

Soon, I arrived at Hozomon Gate, the inner gate leading to Senso-ji Temple. Shrines were making their way through the gate and many people stood around to soak in the experience (or to take photos).  

Sanja Matsuri Festival Asakusa
Men carrying shrine into the temple

There were many beautiful ladies in Kimono posing sweetly for their photo shoot. Once again, I could only take selfie with these ladies serving as my backdrop. LOL!

> MUST-READ: Day 1 in Tokyo (Solo Trip): Haneda Airport to Tokyo Downtown

Senso-Ji Temple Asakusa Itinerary

 

#6. Senso-ji Temple

Though I’ve never really been a temple person, Senso-ji must be the most interesting temple I’ve visited (all thanks to Sanja Matsuri festival).

Check out the things I did within or around the temple compound!

Tokyo Travel Trip
The crowd at Senso-ji temple

Take Lots of Photos!

As I’d visited Senso-ji during the annual festival, the temple was very crowded, but in a good way. My senses were well-stimulated, without getting to the point of feeling overwhelmed.

Taking photos was one of the must-do things at this popular temple. 

Senso-ji Temple during Sanja Matsuri Festival

Picking a lot to check my fortune!

The first activity I did was to donate ¥100, and pick a lot by shaking a metal tin. Here’s my number and I am happy to report that my fortune is good!

Senso-ji Temple Asakusa Itinerary
Picked a lot and happy that it was good fortune! :)

Amulets on sale

You can also buy an amulet based on areas that you need a boost in, such as wealth, health, studies and marriage. They cost about ¥1,000 on average.

I’d wanted to buy, but didn’t find a design that I like. I would eventually get one at another temple (in a design that I like). Show you later! :)

Senso-Ji Temple Asakusa Itinerary
Different types of amulet you can buy at the temple

Food Carnival at the temple!

Food were everywhere and it was really happening to find rows of them within and around the temple premises.

Sanja Matsuri Festival
Little boy looking forward to his Yakisoba
Asakusa Sanja Festival
Grilled upside-down fish (top) and cabbage pancake

I bought an Okonomiyaki (pancake with cabbage, egg, bacon and noodle) at ¥700 from this lady, which turned out to be very filling! 

Sanja Matsuri Festival

 

Lunch by Old Graves

Most people were sitting on the floor eating their “tabao” carnival food. I did too, and found myself a comfortable corner by the old graves (see location). 

The place actually didn’t feel uncomfortable or scary. Maybe because I was not alone! :)

Asakusa Itinerary

Lunch near Senso-ji Temple
Sitting by the grave enjoying my lunch, with some “kakis”!

Yakuza (“Gangsters”) are also religious!

When I was on my way out of the temple, I saw these tattooed guys on parade and believe they are Yakuza (gangster). Don’t they look cool or what? 

Sanja Matsuri Festival 2023

#7. Tokyo Sky Tree: View from the Street

Done with the temple activities, I made my way towards a popular ice cream outlet (see location). Along the way, I could see Tokyo Sky Tree from the street. 

Tokyo Travel 2023

You could visit Tokyo Sky Tree as it’s not too far from Asakusa. Do remember to book your ticket in advance as ticket is more expensive onsite. Also, I’ve read that tickets sold out easily.

I didn’t go because I’d a rather similar experience at Harukas 300 in Osaka (read post here).

> RELATED: 2 Weeks in and around Osaka (Part 1) 

#8. Where’s my “Level 7” Matcha Ice Cream @ Suzukien?

Unfortunately, I failed in my attempt to get a taste of a “Level 7” matcha ice cream. The ice cream outlet – Suzukien – was not opened that day. 

Maybe they also joined the parade! 

#9. Birds-eye View @ Asakusa Culture Tourist Info Centre

Another place to watch Tokyo Sky Tree is to get to 8th floor of Asakusa Culture Tourist Info Centre. Do expect the observatory to be crowded.

Asakusa Culture Tourist Info Centre

Asakusa Culture Tourist Info Centre

Personally, I thought the more interesting view from the observatory was of people strolling towards Senso-ji temple, along Nakamise-dori Street.

Tokyo Travel Solo Trip
View of Nakamise-Dori Street from Tourist Centre

#10. Ekimise Asakusa Mall 

Sorry to say that I only visited this mall for the toilet. I’m sure the multi-story mall has a lot to offer for shoppers, but it was getting late and I needed to get to my next destination soon!

#11. Kappabashi Dougu Street (Missed)

Though I’d marked Kappabashi Dougu Street (see location) as a “must-visit” attraction, I decided to give it a miss as it was a little out of the way. Also, given my failed experience at Suzukien ice cream outlet, I wasn’t sure if shops were opened during the festival.

In any case, if you are into kitchen wares, you might want to check out this street and let me know how much I’ve missed. 

> READ: Day 1 in Tokyo (Solo Trip): From Haneda Airport to Tokyo Downtown

 


By the time I ended my Asakusa itinerary, it was already 2pm. Time to make my way to Ueno district, which was equally worth visiting – I’ve had one of the best sushi experiences there! Check out the next post here.

Essential Info (Day 2 AM):

Map Locations of Tokyo Itinerary (Day 2)

Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara Hotel > Akihabara Station > Redeem Tokyo Subway Pass > Asakusa Station > Kan’non-Dori Shopping Street (Sheltered) > Kaminarimon Gate > Nakamise-Dori Street > Hozomon Gate > Senso-Ji Temple > Suzukien > Asakusa Culture Tourist Info Centre > Ekimise Asakusa Mall > Train to Ueno Station

RELATED POSTS: 

(Visited 1,510 time, 1 visit today)

2 thoughts on “Tokyo Travel: Day 2 in Asakusa Celebrating Popular Shrine Festival with locals!”

  1. Hi Nicole, your itinerary was very detailed n I like it very much. When will your next post of Day 3 come out? Really looking forward to it..

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