We decided the best way to start of our adventure would be to explore the Asakusa district. Asakusa is located in the shitamachi, in English that translates to “low city”, and is right next to the Ginza subway line making it easy for us to get to. Asakusa embodies a preserved feel to it of old Tokyo. Most visitors come to see the Sensoji which is a Buddhist temple that was constructed back in the 7th century, the temple is also known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple. The legend behind the temple is two brothers found a statue of the goddess of mercy, Kannon, in the Sumida River. The brothers always placed the statue back in the river, yet it would always return to them. The temple was built in honor of Kannon.
Aside from the historical value that the area offers it is a great shopping area. Prior to World War Two, Asakusa was Tokyo’s entertainment district, it was the location of many kabuki theatres and featured a large red light district. Nowadays you will find the Hanayashiki which is a small carnival set up next to the temple. We spent a couple hours trying the rides and trying out the games. The main shopping street is called Nakamise, we found traditional snacks like ningyoyaki which is a pastry filled with bean jam and souvenirs such as folding fans. Asakusa is the largest geisha district in Tokyo, there is currently 45 of them working in the area. Unfortunately there are no shows available this time of year.
Asakusa was a great first taste of Japan. Tomorrow we are off to explore the Imperial Palace!