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The city of firsts and retro spots, the Asakusa tour on April 9

The city of firsts and retro spots, the Asakusa tour on April 9

Thank you so much for joining our tour in Asakusa on April 9 . The tour was held in such bad weather, nevertheless two guests kindly joined our tour from America. We hope you enjoyed walking with us and viewing cherry blossoms in spite of the poor weather. Although the cherry blossoms have just started to fall at Sensoji Temple grounds, they are still beautiful. The photos which we took during the tour are posted.

Sensoji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple and has a 1,400-year history. Asakusa was the liveliest town in Edo currently Tokyo from the Edo period (1603-1868) to the Meiji period (1868-1912). There are many firsts in Asakusa.

As you walked through toward the temple’s Main Hall, there is the Nakamise Shopping Street which sells a variety of traditional souvenirs and snacks. The street was built about 300 years ago as one of the first shopping streets in Japan. Local people were allowed to open their shops along the street in exchange for cleaning the temple grounds.

Hanayashiki behind the Main Hall is Japan’s first amusement park. It was established as old as about 170 years ago. There are many vintage looking attractions in operation for a long time. The roller coaster is Japan’s oldest. When the park was opened during the Edo period, it was not an amusement park but was a botanical garden.

Asakusa has Japan’s oldest existing underground shopping mall linked to the Asakusa Station of the Ginza Line. It opened in 1955 and about 20 small stores line up at the mall. They are Izakaya restaurants, barber shops, cafes, bars etc.  A fortuneteller is also visible in the area. You may be amazed at the retro arcade reminding you of the post-war period.  There is a ninja bar where the shopkeeper wears a ninja


 Another example is Japan’s first bar ‘Kamiya Bar’ beside  the Azuma Bridge of the Sumida River. The bar opened in 1880. The famous bar drink is ‘Denki Bran’ which is a brandy-based cocktail mixed with wine, gin and herbs. The bar has been loved by celebrities. The taste is nostalgic and slightly sweet but the recipe for the cocktail is a secret. You can have lunch at Kamiya Bar for a reasonable price.

Moreover, Asakusa boasts the birthplace of the shoyu ramen (soy sauce), the first metro station, the first elevator, etc. Why are there many firsts in Asakusa? One of the reasons may be associated with that Asakusa was the most popular entertainment spot in Edo currently Tokyo. Perhaps, people in Asakusa traditionally like new things. They’ve been good at creating and absorbing the new culture. Why not enjoy exploring Asakusa’s first and retro spots while you are in Tokyo?

Cherry blossoms have just started to fall and are also beautiful when they fall. Enjoy the beauty of the last chance of cherry blossoms for now.

(posted by Yoshi)