Tokyo, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:15AM
Traditional Japan in Downtown Tokyo
Asakusa, located along the Sumida River, was once well-known only for Senso-ji, Tokyo's largest and oldest temple, but now it is a thriving downtown area, especially with the addition of Tokyo Skytree, the world's tallest tower. For centuries, until the neighborhood was badly damaged from air raids during World War II, it was also Tokyo's main entertainment district, where the kabuki scene and a red-light district thrived.
Today, the neighborhood is known for its traditional feel. Nakamise, the street leading up to Senso-ji, is full of traditional shops carrying everything from Japanese-style paper, fans, and snacks to kitschy souvenirs. Senso-ji itself is lively and exciting, and is a reminder of Tokyo in times past.
Tokyo Skytree is visible from all parts of the city, but it is located in Asakusa. Its silhouette is a stunning contrast to the temples and shrines in the area. At the base of Skytree, there are stores and restaurants reflecting some of the most modern shopping in Tokyo.
Asakusa is also the site of many traditional festivals and events. Senso-ji is home to the Sanja Matsuri and the Edoko Katagi parade, a parade celebrating the spirit of Edo, or the original Tokyo. Three traditional market festivals, Hozuki-ichi (summer), Tori-no-ichi (early winter), and Hagoita-ichi (year-end) are held at the Otori Shrine. During the summer, over one million people gather annually to watch the Sumida Fireworks Festival, where spectactular fireworks reflect on the river's surface.