“Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center” – Your Asakusa tour partner
The “Asakusa Cultural Information Center”, opened in April 2012, aims to support tourists with the keywords of “finding, showing and supporting”. It is a Category 3 tourist information center certified by JNTO (top rank/ provides tourist information not only for Asakusa and surrounding areas but for all of Japan in 4 languages at all times).
It provides free guided walking tours of Asakusa each weekend (in English, by TOKYO SGG CLUB) and sightseeing information in four languages (Japanese, English, Mandarin Chinese, Korean). Maps or brochures in each language are also available. The center also provides information on Japanese cultural experiences, including Kimono experiences, making Kaminariokoshi crackers (a specialty of Asakusa), and making soba noodles.
The center also aims to help tourists and to provide tourist information for Asakusa and its surrounding areas; so please don’t hesitate to ask for help when you are in trouble.
In addition, free wireless LAN that can be used by registering your e-mail address, a nursing room, and foreign currency exchange are also available in the center.
The center is an 8-story building elaborately designed by Kengo Kuma, a famous Japanese architect. The top floor has an observatory cafe named “Miharashiya” and an observatory terrace where you can see Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa townscape and Tokyo Sky Tree.
Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
Address: 2-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 – 20:00
Open 7 days a week
Special Asakusa spots recommended by the Tourist Information Center staff
The main attraction of Asakusa sightseeing is the area from Kaminarimon to Senso-ji Temple, which runs through busy Nakamise street (the approach to the temple lined with souvenir shops). On the left of the main hall of Senso-ji temple stands Yogodo Hall, containing 12 protective Buddha statues, each assigned to a particular year of the oriental zodiac cycle (a 12-year cycle, with each year represented by an animal), where visitors can have a spiritual experience of facing the Buddha statues on a tatami floor.
Mr. Kawaguchi, the director of the Tourist Information Center, shared a unique sightseeing spot: “this is not very well known, but there used to be tanuki (raccoon dogs) in Asakusa. There is a street called ‘Tanuki Dori’ a little west of Nakamise street, which is lined with 12 tanuki statues. Each tanuki statue is said to bring luck respectively such as money, love, marital relationships or etc.
In addition, a long-established Okonomiyaki restaurant, “Sometaro”, is popular with foreign tourists. “Okonomiyaki” is a Japanese soul food that you cook yourself on a grill table.
In the shopping spot “Ekimise”, which opened in November 2012 directly above Asakusa Station, there are stores including ones that specialize in selling ninja goods or sumo goods. You can observe strong remnants of traditional Japanese culture in every part of Asakusa, and souvenirs or sightseeing spots of Japan are concentrated in the town.
Ranking of sightseeing spots that are popular with foreign tourists
Ranking of Japanese cultural experiences that you should definitely try for yourself
1. Jinrikisha (rickshaw) experience
A jinrikisha is an ancient Japanese taxi, and riding in one is a Japanese cultural experience that represents Asakusa now. You can enjoy Asakusa sightseeing at a relaxed pace, at walking speed. Some drivers speak English; please make an inquiry at the Tourist Information Center.
2. Kimono experience
You can walk around Asakusa or have your picture taken wearing a kimono. You can select your kimono from wide variety of patterns.
3. Food replica experience
In Kappabashi Dougu Street, a 10-minute walk west from Asakusa, there are wholesalers of food replicas that look like real food. You can try making food replicas too!
* Reservation required: reservations are only accepted in Japanese; please contact Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center.
Asakusa popular gourmet ranking
1. Unatetsu (unagi)
Unatetsu serves “Hitsumabushi” style unagi (grilled eel), which allows you to enjoy unagi three ways. Unagi is cooked slowly using bincho charcoal.
2. Daikokuya (tempura)
Daikokuya’s attains its featured tempura flavor by using only sesame oil. Shrimp tempura and tendon are particularly popular.
3. Snacks on Nakamise Dori (ningyo-yaki, kaminariokoshi, agemanju, rice crackers, etc.)
You cay buy various snacks to go on Nakamise-Dori to Senso-ji Temple. Don’t spoil your appetite!
Asakusa souvenir ranking
1. Ukiyo-e goods
Ukiyo-e is a genre of multicolored woodblock prints, of which there are many collectors throughout the world. Postcards, posters and T-shirts with Ukiyo-e motifs are popular as souvenirs.
2. Kitchen knives
In Kappabashi Dougu Street, which is a 10-minute walk from Asakusa, there are some specialty stores where you can buy high-quality kitchen knives. Japanese knives are popular because they are tough and durable. Why don’t you buy one together with some maintenance goods including a grindstone, so that you can maintain your knife’s sharpness?
3. Japanese-style items
Japanese hand towels made from unraised cotton, called “Tenugui”, or “Furoshiki”, which symbolizes Japan’s culture of wrapping, also make good souvenirs. Both items come in various colors and unique patterns; so why not find your favorites?
- Rickshaw Jidaiya (Japanese)
- Asakusa Shichihenge (Kimono experience)
- Iwasaki Be-I (food replicas) (Japanese)
- Kappabashi Dougu Street
- Unatetsu (Japanese)
- Ukiyo-e Sakai Kokodo Gallery (Japanese)
- Kitchen knives KamaAsa Syoten (Japanese)
- Kazusaya (Tenugui, furoshiki, and other Japanese goods) (Japanese)