Tokyo may appear to be a city where everything is gleaming, sparkling, brand new and just waiting to be consumed. But scratch beneath the surface and there is another side of the city: for a taste of old Japan, head to atmospheric lanes of Asakusa, the former pleasure district of the city.
Top of the trail is Sensoji – also known as Asakusa Kannon – the oldest temple in the city. First pass beneath the vast red lantern at the entrance Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) before following the temple market trail leading to the temple itself. Lined with seasonal decorations – cherry blossoms in spring, maple leaves in autumn – the market sells crispy ‘senbei’ rice crackers and steamed ‘manju’ cakes as well as budget kimonos, prints, mobile phone straps and fans.
Upon approaching the temple, pay for an ‘omikuji’ fortune stick to gain a glimpse into your future. Watch crowds of worshippers pass the multi-tiered pagoda and light purifying incense before climbing the steps and paying their respects at the main altar.
Don’t miss the small and serene Shinto shrine just to the right of the temple, before wandering past kimono shops and local eateries that line the lanes in the surrounding area.
Image: by JNTO