Travel Tokyo: Asakusabashi Shopping Heaven

Asakusabashi Guide

The city of Tokyo is surely one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. It is known to be the largest business district in the country which is home to headquarters of multiple international brands. Tokyo is a home not just to thousands of local Japanese people but also foreign migrants and tourists. It has everything an urban traveler looks for – the trendy shopping locations, popular cafes and restaurants, amazing architecture, and more!

河田鷹介 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Places like Shinjuku, Gyoza, Roppongi, Harajuku, and more – these are the names that come to people’s minds when thinking about Tokyo. However, there are still a number of hidden gems and tiny districts located all over Tokyo waiting to be discovered. Asakusabashi is one of these, a small quirky district in the outskirts of Tokyo.

Travel Map: Asakusabashi Tokyo

Asakusabashi is a small place in the district of Taito, in the city of Tokyo. This small district in the eastern portion of the city. One of its popular landmarks would be the Kanda river on its south and the Sumida river on its east. It is conveniently located just one train station away from Akihabara along the Sobu line.

It is right outside the central urban districts of the city and is a popular destination for backpackers looking for affordable places to stay, eat, and shop. Although it is less famous than other districts in Japan, Asakusabashi has a lot of travel destinations since it has a lot of not-so-typical tourism highlights.

What is interesting about this place is that the word “bashi” literally translates to bridge. So the word Asakusabashi can be translated to “Asakusa Bridge” in English. This pertains to the old bridge from the Edo period which was considered as one of the main highways to and from the city. This particular bridge, although it does not exist anymore today, was constructed in front of the Asakusabashi train station crossing the Kanda river.

Historically, it is not known as a bridge in Asakusa (which is another district a certain distance away but still in Tokyo).  Instead, it was known as the bridge before the gate of one of the most famous and largest temples in Asakusa whose size at the time encompasses two or more modern districts of today.  

Asakusabashi Weather

Tokyo, in general, experiences a subtropical climate. The place experiences four different seasons but with very humid summers and mild winters. The temperature can go as low as -5 to -7 degree Celsius during the cold season and as high as 36 degrees during the warm season. Interestingly as well, the place experiences what is called as a one-month season lag which means that the hottest temperatures are experienced during August instead of July and the coldest month in January instead of December.

Transportation Tips

Asakusabashi Station and Asakusabashi Station Map

This is a subway station which acts as the main gateway to Asakusabashi in Tokyo. It was established in the early 1930s and is located adjacent to Ryogoku and Akihabara. At this time it was only the Chuo-Sobu line that operated in the station. It was only in the 1960s that the Toei line was opened. It is a part of the Toei Asakusa Line and is operated by the JR East and the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation. This is the means of accessing the neighborhood from different parts of the city. Just like other stations all over Japan, there are a number of restaurants, shops, cafes, and other establishments inside the station.

There are a total of two lines going through the Asakusabashi station, which are the Chuo-Sobu Line and the Toei Asakusa Line. Each line has two platforms bound to different locations around the city. For those who wish to access far distances away from Asakusabashi, they may take the JR platforms going to Shinjuku, Mitaka, Chiba, and Funabashi.

How to get from Asakusabashi Station to Narita Airport

People who wish to access the airport can take the Toei platform line 2 heading for the Narita Sky Access Line. The code for this particular line is KS and is known to take passengers straight to the Narita airport. This is an express train going to the airport from the heart of the city.

Asakusabashi Hotels and Accommodation Information

Asakusabashi Business Hotel

Asakusabashi is a popular destination for comfortable but affordable rooms and places for rent. Usually, since there are not that many people around the neighborhood finding a good hotel is not that difficult. They are also not that strict when it comes to check-in and checkout times. Normally, a basic room package includes a bed, a TV, and free wifi. There are rentable lodging which can be rented for a min of 40 USD per night.

Asakusabashi Things to do and Places to go

Asakusabashi Shopping: Asakusabashi Bead Town

What is interesting about Tokyo is that shopping feels departmentalized. Different districts have their own specializations, a reason for travelers to frequent their streets and stores. Akihabara for electronics, Gyoza for upscale shopping, Shinjuku for the latest trends, and more. What Asakusabashi is famous for would be its hobby stores and clothing accessory shops. The place is every handcrafter’s dream!

There are a number of shops in the area that specializes in scrapbooking materials. There are places to buy expensive and affordable stationery. There are places to buy DIY paper making kits, specialized tools, and more. Actually, even locals love shopping in the area for items and trinkets for their mini projects. Going to the stores is very relaxing and enjoyable.

Other than that, there are also a number of shops in Asakusabashi that caters to seamstresses and tailors. There are ribbons, buttons, cloth, and more. In fact, there one area of Asakusabashi is known to be the Bead Town where beads and trinkets of all kinds can be found. There are also places that sell genuine leather which can be used for belts, wallets, and bags.

For those who wish to visit this place just to enjoy its oddities, there are a number of art studios and craft galleries in the neighborhood. Some open their doors for visitors while others offer lessons and workshops.

Monomachi Handicraft Event

The Monomachi, or the Tokyo Handicraft Event, is one of the biggest events celebrated in Asakusabashi. It is usually held September to November of every year wherein they welcome visitors from all over the globe to enjoy the unique craftsmanship in the area. During this time, the studios and galleries open their doors to the public to showcase their work. They usually expect more than 10,000 visitors every year. They create a healthy environment that welcomes interests from both artists and patrons to handicrafts – a far cry from the typical mass-produced products.

During this time as well, the place focuses on how to use traditional arts and crafts in modern necessities. For instance, there is a shop that capitalizes on the quality of traditionally made leather goods. There is another shop that focuses on creating what is known as Kiriko or Edo period glassware. Asakusabashi also serves as a location for startups to build their image before officially entering the global markets. These shops use the Monomachi event as a means of introducing their brands to possible patrons and clients.

Asakusa tenmondai

Also known as the Asakusa Observatory, this is one of the many remembrances of Asakusabashi’s importance in the development of Science and technology. Almost two hundred years ago, Asakusabashi was home to a large astronomical observatory which was a popular destination for scientists and astronomers at the time. It was home to a number of libraries and offices that offer help to both local and foreign scientists with regards to research and literature.

The observatory was located somewhere in the western region of the neighborhood and was known as the Shitendai or Asakusa Tenmondai. It was built in the late 1700s by a man named Ushigome Waradana and was considered then as the main government office of the country’s calendar making. It was here where astronomical observations are made to ensure the accuracy of the lunar calendars which were used at the time.

However, during the Meiji restoration period, a larger and more modern observatory was built in Chiyoda. This has caused the abolishment of the Asakusa Observatory. Today, there are markers to note the actual site or address where the Asakusa tenmondai used to stand, a constant reminder to the modern day Japanese of the importance of Asakusabashi to the development of astronomical research in Japan.

Traditional Doll Shops

What makes Asakusabashi popular to both local and foreign tourists alike because of their traditional doll shops. These are mostly located in the Yanagibashi area which is a few minutes’ walk away from the Asakusabashi station. Although these shops are open to the public, they are not particularly welcome to tourists because the items are very costly. The good thing is that there are certain places in Asakusabashi have an affordable doll-related souvenir.

Many of these shops are centuries-old and are known to be managed by small families. These shops were passed down from generation to generation. A common, and sweet, observation is that it is a common place to visit for grandparents and parents buying a gift for the younger members of their family. Receiving traditional Japanese dolls were a big thing during the earlier times since these kinds of toys were (and still are) quite expensive.

The neighborhood is particularly popular during the Hina Matsuri celebration during springtime. This is the time of year where traditional Japanese dolls are given laid out to depict ancient, imperial court. Traditional families do this as a means of prayer for the young girls of their family.

Yanagibashi Entertainment District

Aside from having the majority of the doll shops located in this area, Yanagibashi is known to be the entertainment district of the neighborhood. But it is not like the typical entertainment district, with bright neon lights, bars, and nightlife. It is more of a historical kind of entertainment district. Being a historical city, Tokyo is home to a number of traditional geisha houses. Yanagibashi is home to a number of them. Yanagibashi can be translated to “Willow Bridge” which connects Asakusabashi to Keiyo-Dori Avenue.

Since it is crossing the Kanda river, the Yanagibashi is also home to a number of boarding points or ports for pleasure boats in the area. This is quite popular for touring locations around the Kanda and Sumida river.

Asakusabashi Ancient Shrines

There are a number of shrines all over Asakusabashi but only three are the most popular. These three shrines are the Ichogaoka Hachiman Shrine, the Suga Shrine, and the Sakaki Shrine. These are all ancient Shinto shrine which was constructed in the neighborhood.

The Ichogaoka Hachiman Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in the area. It was established in the late 1700s for the gods of war worshipped by the Minamoto family. It is home to the ancestral guardian of the Matsudaira family as well. After the shogunate was abolished during the Meiji Restoration, it was developed into a public shrine. This is a good thing since many of the ancient structures constructed for the shogunate were demolished during the Meiji restoration.

The Suga Shrine can be dated back to the early 6th century and is known to be one of the oldest in Tokyo. It played an important role in the history of Tokyo and is known to be dedicated to the gods Gozu Tenno and Susano. It was among the structures which were destroyed during the Second World War and was rebuilt only more than two decades later.

The Sakaki shrine is the smallest out of three. It was built in the 8th century and was not known to be the Sakaki shrine at the time. It was known as the Dairoku Tensaka shrine and was dedicated to the guardian gods Admiral Mineo Osumi.

Asakusabashi Port

During the earlier times, the Kanda and Sumida rivers were important gateways to Tokyo. It was a means for people to travel to and from the city. It was also a means of easily transporting goods and other materials. However, with the development of urban roads, bridges, and highways, the Kanda and Sumida rivers have been turned into tourist destinations. The Asakusabashi port is a terminal or one of the means of getting into the rentable boats that will take passengers up and downstream of the river.