Asakusa Part 1: Nakamise-Dori

Sometimes, traveling in a big group can be a test of friendship. Because of the differences in interests, someone is always bound to want to do something that the rest of the pack isn’t up for. Sometimes, every single person in the group just wants to do his or her own thing. Thankfully, there is a place in Tokyo that travelers in large groups can go to without having to pull one another’s hair out. This place has almost everything you could possibly want in a tourist destination. It is located in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, and it is called Nakamise-Dori, one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan.

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With almost a hundred shops selling all sorts of goods, there is bound to be something that suits anyone’s fancy in this 200-meter shopping street. Thinking of getting souvenirs for loved ones back home? Nakamise-Dori is one of the best places to get little knick-knacks. Is your goal to sample all sorts of Japanese street food? Snack away as you pass by stalls selling various kinds of uniquely Japanese tidbits. Do you simply just want to get in touch with your spiritual side and visit a temple? Nakamise-Dori leads up to the Sensoji Temple, an ancient Buddhist temple, and one of the oldest and most famous temples in Tokyo.

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Nakamise-Dori is about 3 minutes on foot from the Asakusa station. It is easy to get lost there so be careful with the exits. Make sure to go out of Kaminarimon Exit. Kaminarimon is the entrance to Nakamise-Dori.

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The Tokyo Skytree — a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower — is visible from the entrance of Nakamise-Dori.
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My group and I, about to take on Asakusa!

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You can find all sorts of trinkets at Nakamise-Dori
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Sticks of Kibi dango (millet dumpling), a hot mochi-like snack made from glutinous rice, starch, syrup, and sugar, and covered in soy bean powder. I forgot to take a photo of the actual snack when it wasn’t swimming in soy bean powder!
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More street food
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Japanese lanterns of varying shapes and sizes
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Cute maneki neko (“beckoning cat”)
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The sumo says “hi!”
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Mike got himself one of these samurai caps
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Lovely wall posters

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They sell clothes and bags here too
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Agemanju (fried manju), steamed cakes deep fried in tempura batter, containing sweet filling. Yummy! I wish I could have taken these back home!
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Shoppers walk past the many stalls at Nakamise-Dori
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A more quiet and quaint side of Nakamise-Dori

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This was probably the best thing I ate at Nakamise-Dori! I’ve been craving for these curry buns even after I’ve left Japan!
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The curry bun stall. Make sure you look for it!

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You can get on this carriage and have your photo taken, just like these ladies.
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For someone so scrawny, this guy sure is strong! He can pull two grown women on a carriage!
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Speaking of strong, this man is pretty strong too! He can carry these two heavy carts bound by a wooden pole on his shoulders with ease
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People stop to check him and his cart out because they’re so amazed that he can lift these carts using nothing but his muscles. I’m also pretty amazed at how organized his cart is. Look, it has compartments! And it also has a broom and dust pan attached to it. He probably cleans as he goes!
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The snack that the strong man is selling. I’m not sure what it is but it looks like some kind of sandwich.
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This looked so good! Honestly, though, I didn’t enjoy it as much. It was like glutinous rice balls on stick with a sweet coating.

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Ninjas selling ninja stars, boomerangs, and other ninja thingamajigs… just in case you’re interested in being a ninja
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Shoe haven!
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More rice crackers…
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…and even more rice crackers!
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This puffer fish is about to become someone’s dinner
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Eat with ease of mind!
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A shop that sells delicious taiyaki (Japanese fish-shaped cake, usually filled with red bean paste)
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Taiyaki guys at work
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Various flavors of taiyaki. I got the caramel one, of course.
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You can see the fillings of the taiyaki before they add the top layer
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All done! Ours had ice cream in it. It was my favorite dessert in Nakamise-Dori.
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Big bite!
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Chanced upon this charming traditional Japanese restaurant

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Ice cream burger stand
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Ice cream heaven! So many interesting flavors to choose from!
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Buttery, creamy, and oh-so-yummy!

It is important to note that when you buy food from a particular food stand, the shop owners prefer that you eat the food while at or in front of their shop. That said, loitering while snacking is not appreciated, probably because the Japanese people want to avoid instances of littering. Fair enough!

Next stop, Sensoji-Temple! We entered through the opposite end of the Kaminarimon Gate, which is the Hozomon Gate, the gate that stands in front of the temple’s main hall.

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The Hozomon Gate which stands before the Senso-ji Temple

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Part 2 of our Asakusa adventures is up next!

Nakamise-Dori
Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Phone: 03-3644-3350
How to Get There:
a) From Tokyo Station: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa.
b) From Shinjuku Station: Take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa
*Take exits 1, 3, and A4.Go out of the Kaminarimon Gate. Nakamise-Dori is just a 3-5 minute walk from the Asakusa Station
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday; Opening hours depend on the individual shops (typically daily from 9:00 to 19:00) but the Kaminarimon Gate is always open
Admission Fees: Free

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