For many centuries, Asakusa (Japanese: 浅草) has been one of the main areas to visit in Tokyo. It is Tokyo’s best-known “shitamachi,” which means “low town.” Here, you will experience both the modern and historical atmospheres of the city. You might be surprised to see how well the historical sites are preserved despite the area being severely damaged during the Second World War.

Asakusa attracts both domestic and international tourists all year long. Because there is so much to do in Asakusa, it is crucial to do some homework before your visit so that you don’t end up feeling you didn’t have time to see everything you wanted. We highlighted a few “must-do” activities that you should look forward to when you’re here.

Tokyo Skytree

Asakusa Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting and observation tower, and it’s the tallest structure in Japan at 634 metres tall. There are two observatories in the Skytree from which you can see all of Tokyo. We’ve added a link in the description below to our Skytree blog post, which has all the information you’ll need to get tickets, along with some tips for wandering around Skytree (shops, facilities, restaurants, etc.). Don’t forget to check that out.

The view from the Skytree observatories during the day and night is very different. If you happen to come at night, Skytree is illuminated, and you can see the various illumination patterns. Skytree also projects special lighting for specific dates. Here’s the link for you to check out what lighting you can expect when you visit: Skytree Lighting.

At the bottom of the tower, there is a shopping mall called Tokyo Solamachi. There are restaurants, cafes, and shops. If you’re looking for special souvenirs to bring back home, have a look around here. Solamachi features over 300 shops and restaurants, many of which you will not find elsewhere. Apart from shopping, you can also visit museums inside Solamachi, as it includes a planetarium, aquarium (which we will discuss in the following section), postal museum, and world beer museum.

Many shops in Solamachi specialise in Japanese cultural products, including both traditional crafts and pop-culture items. If it is your first time coming to Japan or Tokyo, I would definitely recommend making some time for this shopping place.

If you love Kirby, don’t miss the Kirby Café. Here, the meals and desserts are designed to look like Kirby in different poses. There’s the Kirby Burger, Kirby Pasta, Kirby’s Soft Pancakes, and very adorable Kirby drinks. Its menu is surprisingly big and features different varieties of food and themes at different times of the year. The background music in the café is also from the games, so you will have a truly “Kirby experience.”

Because the Nintendo character is so popular, the café does not take walk-ins. The only way to get in is to book online and VERY EARLY: it is likely you will have to wait a good couple of months to get a reservation. This is the link to book your spot: Kirby Café Tokyo. If you are lucky and get a spot quickly (congrats!), make sure to bring an official ID with you. They will not let you in just with your confirmation number but also your government ID.

Sumida Aquarium 

Asakusa Sumida Aquarium

The Sumida Aquarium (Japanese: すみだ水族館) is located on the 5th and 6th floors of Tokyo Solamachi, and it boasts Japan’s largest indoor tank. Opened in May 2012, the aquarium is home to over 10,000 marine creatures, making it a must-visit for marine life enthusiasts. The aquarium’s design is modern and open, with large tanks and clear acrylic tunnels that provide an immersive experience.

One of the unique features of the Sumida Aquarium is its diverse collection of marine life, particularly species native to Tokyo Bay, the Izu Islands, and the Ogasawara Islands. Visitors can explore various exhibits that showcase the rich biodiversity of these regions. The Tokyo Bay zone, for instance, displays creatures like the Japanese spider crab, known for its long legs and impressive size.

The aquarium is particularly famous for its impressive penguin and fur seal habitats. The penguin enclosure is one of the largest in Japan, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with these charming birds. The fur seal pool, designed to resemble their natural rocky shore habitat, provides an excellent opportunity to observe these playful animals as they swim and interact.

In addition to these exhibits, the Sumida Aquarium features a mesmerizing jellyfish display. The jellyfish are kept in cylindrical tanks that are beautifully lit, creating a captivating and serene viewing experience. The aquarium’s emphasis on innovative and artistic presentations makes it stand out from other aquariums.

For those interested in the conservation and breeding of marine species, the aquarium has a dedicated research zone. Here, visitors can learn about the efforts to breed and protect endangered species, as well as see some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into maintaining the aquarium’s diverse inhabitants.

The Sumida Aquarium also offers interactive experiences for visitors of all ages. Children can participate in workshops and hands-on activities designed to educate and inspire a love for marine life. The aquarium’s staff frequently hold informative talks and feeding demonstrations, providing deeper insights into the behaviour and care of the animals.

An ideal place to chill out and learn about marine culture for all age groups, the Sumida Aquarium offers a blend of education and entertainment that makes it a standout attraction in Asakusa. Whether you’re fascinated by the delicate beauty of jellyfish, the playful antics of seals, or the majestic presence of large fish, the Sumida Aquarium has something to offer everyone.

Asakusa Area

Asakusa Asakusa area

Just a convenient and scenic 20-minute walk from Skytree, you’ll arrive at the centre of the Asakusa area. Along the way, you will come across the Sumida River, the Asahi building, and lots of stunning establishments. If you don’t feel like walking, you can take an easy 10-minute train ride to the city centre as well.

If you’ve ever wanted to wear the traditional Japanese kimono, Asakusa is the place to do it. There are many places you can visit that will dress you up in a kimono of your choice. They’ll even style your hair and provide hair accessories. This entire process will take a mere 30 minutes, and then you can walk around Asakusa for the rest of the day and take photos of yourself in a beautiful kimono.

Now that you’re decked out in traditional Japanese clothes, head on over to Sensoji Temple, one of the most famous, if not the most famous temple in all of Tokyo. This temple was completed in the year 645, making it the oldest temple in Tokyo. There is the temple’s main hall, a beautiful pagoda, and a shrine. Take part in traditional Japanese customs such as cleansing your hands in temple waters, or removing bad luck from your body with temple smoke. If you want, you can even go ahead and say a prayer or make a wish in the main temple hall.

To get to the main temple, you’ll have to go down Nakamise Shopping Street. It’s a long street of about 200 metres, with stores on both sides, as well as in some of the intersecting alleys. Here, you can buy all sorts of things, from Japanese yukatas to local arts and crafts and, of course, souvenirs. Some stores sell local snacks that you can buy and eat immediately. Street food isn’t a big thing in Tokyo, and this is one of the few places you can have it.

Create Lasting Memories in Asakusa

Asakusa stands as a testament to Tokyo’s ability to seamlessly blend the old with the new. The district’s historical landmarks, like Sensoji Temple, provide a serene counterbalance to the modern attractions such as Tokyo Skytree and the lively Sumida Aquarium. This combination ensures that every visit to Asakusa is filled with diverse and enriching experiences.

Exploring Asakusa allows you to fully immerse yourself in Japanese culture. From the moment you step into the area, the sights, sounds, and aromas transport you to a different era. Whether it’s participating in traditional rituals at the temple, enjoying the playful ambience of the Sumida Aquarium, or simply strolling through the vibrant streets, Asakusa offers a unique glimpse into the soul of Tokyo. Each visit promises new adventures and unforgettable moments, making Asakusa a highlight of any trip to Japan.

Want a more packed Asakusa adventure? Consider booking Flip Japan Guide’s 5-Hour Private Customized Tour.