A Virtual-Reality Tour of Asakusa, Tokyo
JapanIn videoImages Guide to Japan Travel
◆Viewing the 360 degree video◆
- On PC, click and drag your mouse cursor to look around.
- In the YouTube app on your smartphone or tablet, the view changes with the movement of your device. You can also swipe to move the view around.
- Using VR goggles or headset makes the experience all the more immersive!
Tokyo’s Most Historic Tourist Spot
Asakusa has been a popular spot to visit since the Edo period (1603–1868). In modern times, it sees more than 30 million visitors a year from all over Japan and the world, and before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in every three visitors to Japan came here.
Kaminarimon, the iconic symbol of Asakusa, is the gate at the entrance to the main road leading to Sensōji, and is often crowded with people taking pictures against the backdrop of its giant red paper lantern. The current gate was built in 1960 with donations from Matsushita Kōnosuke, founder and then president of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Now Panasonic). The word painted on the back, Fūraijinmon, is the gate’s true name, and references the two statues guarding the entrance at left and right: Fūjin, god of wind, and Raijin, god of lightning.
After you pass through Kaminarimon, you will find Japan’s oldest shopping street, known as Nakamise. Its 250-meter length is lined with souvenir and snack shops. Pushing through the crowds here will take you to the inner Hōzōmon, or “treasure house,” gate, which stores many of the temple’s sacred sutras and treasures on its second floor. This gate is guarded by Niō statues, representing guardians of the Buddha. The west side of the temple grounds has a five-story pagoda, giving of a powerful aura of Japanese tradition, while looking to the east offers a view of 634-meter Tokyo Skytree, for a mixture of the ancient and modern.
The relatively large building right in front is the temple’s main hall. Its primary object of worship is the Shōkanzeon Bosatsu, a statue of the bodhisattva of compassion, Kannon, pulled from the Sumida River in the seventh century. Visitors stream to this temple to receive Kannon’s blessings. After sunset, many of these structures are lit up for a mystical sight that is completely different from the daytime view.
A five-minute walk along the Higashisandō road extending from the eastern gate, the Nitenmon, takes you to Sumida Park along the Sumida River. This is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing in spring and cool evening breezes in summer, and the river is often dotted with leisurely sightseeing boats. From the banks, you can see not only Tokyo Skytree, but a couple of rather unusual buildings, as well. One is the Asahi Group head office, its golden walls and white roof designed to look like a foamy mug of beer. Next to it is the Asahi Beer Hall, with a golden structure atop it called the Flamme d’Or. These buildings were completed in 1989 and have become famous Asakusa sights.
The Sumida River Walk promenade next to the railroad bridge upstream opened in 2020. It is lit up at night and has become a common date spot on the way to Tokyo Skytree. Asakusa continues to evolve as a tourist spot and so is sure to keep bringing in more and more visitors.
(Originally published in Japanese. Reporting and text by Nippon.com.)