Join a small private tour in Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist spots and famous for its wooden temples and rows of shopping arcades. Unfold the hidden stories behind some of Asakusa’s most iconic landmarks and learn about its long history with an experienced tour guide by your side. The tour content may also be customized upon request.
Meeting point → Kaminarimon Gate → Nakamise Shopping Street → The site of Kawatake Mokuami Residence Monument → Demboin-dori Street → Sensoji Engi paintings → Hozomon Gate → Main Hall → Nitenmon Gate → Asakusa Shrine → Backside area of the Main Hall → Statue of Ichikawa Danjuro “Shibaraku" → Oku Asakusa, Kenban-dori Street → Saruwaka Sanza → Matsuchiyama Shoden → Sumida Park Sanyabori Square → Observation Terrace
At the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, we will meet with a Japanese guide and the tour will start.
As you know, Kaminarimon Gate is the landmark of Asakusa. It’s the most popular photo spot among the tourists. Kaminarimon was first built here in the 13th Century. Since then, the gate has been repeatedly damaged by fire and reconstructed each time.
Nakamise Shopping Street
The shopping street beyond Kaminarimon Gate is called Nakamise. Nakamise has developed with Sensoji Temple in history. Nakamise started around end 18th Century to early 19th Century. There were many souvenir shops, toy shops, and sweets shops around Kaminarimon. And there were many eateries from Denboin-Dori Street which is crossing Nakamise to Hozomon Gate of Sensoji Temple.
The stone monument of Kawatake Mokuami’s residence
This stone monument at the corner of Nakamise Kaikan Hall shows the site where Kawatake Mokuami’s house once stood.
The street crossing Nakamise is called Denboin-Dori street. Denboin is an important building of Sensoji Temple serving as the temple office. You cannot see the building of Denboin now as it is under the anti-earthquake reinforcement. Denboin is Sensoji’s 2nd oldest building built in 1877 following Nitenmon Gate.
These pictures show the origin and history of the Sensoji Temple and they are called “Sensoji Engi".
”Hozomon Gate” was once called “Niomon,” the Gate of Deva at its foundation. As the second story houses many of the temple’s treasures, it came to be called “Hozomon,” the Treasure Storehouse Gate.
Hozomon is said to be built in 942 by Taira no Kinmasa, a military commander in the Heian Period.
Hondo – the main hall
They call the main hall Kannon-do as it houses the principal image of Sensoji, Sho-Kannon Bosatsu.
The former main hall, designated as a National Treasure, burned down during the Great Tokyo Air Raids on March 10, 1945. The present main hall was established in 1958 with donations from believers all over Japan.
Higashi-Sando leading to Nitenmon Gate was a road traveled by Tokugawa Shogun family. Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Edo (old Tokyo), as Toyotomi Hideyoshi gave him the Kanto region with eight provinces including Edo. That was in 1590, 10 years before the battle of Sekigahara that actually concluded the period of warring states. Ieyasu set Sensoji as a place of prayer.
Asakusa Shrines is so-called Sanja-sama hosting the annual Sanja-matsuri festival held in mid-May. Right after the death of Haji no Nakatomo, his successor got a divine message from Kannon in his dream and enshrined Hinokuma no Hamanari, Takenari, and their master Haji no Nakatomo as three deities of Asakusa Shrine.
Behind the Sensoji Main Hall
We are going to Kannon-ura or Oku-Asakusa area across Kototoi-Dori Avenue. You are on “Asakusa Kabuki Walking Tour.” We are visiting the former Saruwakacho town in Oku-Asakusa. The area is the setting of the theme of the tour, Edo Asakusa Kabuki. Behind the main hall of Sensoji Temple, “Heisei Nakamura-za Theater" gives a special performance every autumn. Nakamura-za has its roots in Saruwakacho in Asakusa. That is the reason why they give the performance of Heisei Nakamura-za Theater behind the main hall of Sensoji Temple.
The Bronze Statue of “Shibaraku” by Ichikawa Danjuro
There is the bronze statue of Ichikawa Danjuro IX (1838-1903) who was praised as a “Holly Actor” striking a pose in the play named “Shibaraku.” The English title of the play is “Just a Moment.” Danjuro acted the main character with psychic power named “Kamakura Gengoro.”
Following the powerfulness of Gengoro, “Naki Sumo” or crying baby contest has been held every April in front of the statue. It is a traditional ritual which is performed as a prayer for the healthy growth of babies. The original statue was built in 1919 but it was submitted to the military during the war.
The present statue is a replica made in 1986 when the 12th generation of Danjuro succeeded. The statue is popular not only among Kabuki lovers but also local people.
Toward Oku-Asakusa Kenban Dori
This is the area called Oku Asakusa, which was formerly called Kannon-ura. There were many ryoteis, fancy Japanese restaurants, but they have decreased in number. The building on the right ahead is “Kenban” the management office of geisha.
This is the main street of Saruwakacho. Here is the Sanza-no-hi monument. Find the street running in the middle of Saruwakacho.
There is Matsuchiyama Shoden temple on a hill of 10 meters above the sea level. Its formal name is Honryuin Matsuchiyama Shoden, a branch of Sensoji Temple.
Sumida Park Sanyabori Square
Here is the mouth of Sanyabori River in the old days. Tourists from Nihombashi or other areas landed at this place and went to Asakusa Sanza theaters in Saruwakacho. Those who liked to go to Yoshiwara changed to a small boat and went the Sanyabori River up to Yoshiwara.
From Sumida Park to Observation Terrace
There are ceramic plate reliefs displayed at 10 locations along the Sumida River. They include some of the Ukiyoe collections of Matsuchiyama Shoden Temple you have visited. You can read an explanation on the Ukiyoe via the application on your smartphone.
This is the end of the Asakusa / Kabuki Town Walking Tour.
Time and price
7,250 yen / group: about 1 to 5 people
About 2 hours
Japanese, English (optional), Vietnamese (optional)
Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
2-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0034 Japan
Please be sure to make a reservation in advance before using.
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