Not Just a Tourist City – A Locals Hidden Secrets to Asakusa
Figure 1: Daily ordeal at Nakamise-Dori
Asakusa is a town of rich culture and history unparalleled by other suburbs. Formerly known as the downtown hub of nightlife and entertainment during the Edo period, Asakusa now is known for its many tourist attractions and cultural festivities.
Unlike most developed suburbs in Tokyo, Asakusa has retained its cultural heritage through its conservation of historic architecture from the Edo period. This makes Asakusa a town of curiosity for many tourists, but don’t count out Asakusa as just a tourist destination.
In a town with a deeply rooted heritage, is where one of the sleekest Social Apartments calls Asakusa home. Only a 12-minute walk from Asakusa station, Entwine Asakusa is one of our latest Social Apartments to undergo a full property renovation in March 2020. With a modern design that contrasts to the more dated image of Asakusa, we gave our property a polished and youthful look.
Figure 2: Quick get-together at the lounge
Entwine Asakusa is abundant in facilities. We have installed 3 spacious system kitchens and 1 large island kitchen for a content cooking experience. The lounge is designed for optimal opportunities to entwine and unwind, a space that encourages both socialization and relaxation with its many seating options. At the very top of the property you will find a fashionably fenced rooftop terrace, the prime place to kick back with some afternoon drinks. The terrace offers views of another city landmark, Tokyo Skytree.
Figure 3: Rooftop terrace for prime views of East Asakusa.
The property holds 50 rooms all fully furnished, with a single bed, desk, chair, and refrigerator. A place that can be called home comfortably without the hassle of preparing furnishings upon move-in, this is the ideal property for people who wish to move in on the fly. From Asakusa Station, you hold access to the Ginza-line, Asakusa-line, and the Tobu Skytree Line; lines that conveniently take you to some of the most popular inner-city suburbs in Tokyo. With close access to convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and bars all no more than 6-minutes in walking distance from the property, Entwine Asakusa is the perfect place to start your new Tokyo experience.
Figure 4: Skating alongside Sumida River during spring.
Sumida River (Riverside)
A 4-minute walk from the property, you will come across a grand river that flows through the east of Asakusa. Sumida River runs through Tokyo branching from the Arakawa River, ultimately leading to the Tokyo Bay. The riverside is popular as a walking destination with great views of the river and Tokyo Skytree. A ferry can be caught along the river from Asakusa, leading south until it reaches the famous artificial island of Odaiba. During the day, you will find many local joggers and dog walkers enjoying a scenic outing along the riverside.
What is not known however, is that the riverside is a popular meetup spot in the evening for locals to gather. You will find groups of all sorts, from fishermen, local skateboarders, eccentric musicians to groups of lively salarymen. During the summer and spring, the riverside is cool and warm, the perfect spot for friends to kick it over a few conbini drinks.
Figure 5: Chikaokun, the mascot character that greets you at the entrance of the underground district.
Asakusa Underground District (Chikagai)
My favorite spot in Asakusa, the oldest underground shopping district is the right amount of culture and grit, giving flavour to a town already overflowing with it. Walking down the entrance of the underground district, you are greeted by a wave of humidity that envelops you. Traversing the underground you will find it all, from possibly the cheapest standing soba shop in Tokyo (300yen), a 700yen barber, shady looking fortune tellers, traditional Taiwanese massage parlors, to lively bars and izakaya’s echoing with the laughter of locals.
The underground is lively between the times of 7pm to 10pm. A fun place just to stroll through, immerse yourself in the energy of a place stuck in time in the underbelly of Asakusa.
Sento (Public Baths)
For many of you, a public bath may be the thought of a nightmare. Exposing yourself in the nude surrounded by sweaty strangers? Depending on how you explain it, it might not sound appealing. People who frequent public baths know though, that it can be a refreshing and humbling experience that can be shared with others. At a public bath, your class, status, background, and the clothes people wear are all stripped away. It is a place for cleansing, relaxation, meditation, and revitalization.
Asakusa is luckily a town that has many public baths to offer and choose from. A 5-minute walk from the property you can find Tsuruno-Yu, a traditionally styled public bath that offers necessities such as shampoo, body-soap, and generously enough, free access to the sauna. If you wish to have an inner-city hot spring experience, Yudonburi Sakae-Yu is a 10-minute walk away. The sento uses natural hot spring water ground up from the earth, and with many different baths to choose from (massage bath, micro-bubble bath, electric bath), the highlight of this establishment is the rōtenburo, a beautiful open-air hot spring with an added special essence in the water.
Figure 6: A late night photo of Sumida River and the Honjo-Azumabashi bridge.
Sensoji Temple at Night
Sensoji is a world-renowned landmark, the oldest temple in Tokyo and its most significant. A famous tourist spot, it is often one of the first sightseeing destinations for those exploring Tokyo. Located in the heart of Asakusa, the temple can be found tucked behind the end of Nakamise-Dori, a street famous for its long line of souvenir shops, all full of the pleasant aroma of traditional Japanese sweets.
This central area that leads up to and surrounds the temple, is often packed with tourists, navigating through the area can feel like a pilgrimage. Come after dusk though, and you will find this area near empty. Sensoji at night can be just as grand if not more beautiful, with the many lights that illuminate the temple, you are offered a more serene experience of the area without all the noise and foot-traffic caused by tourists.
Figure 7: Hoppy Street, a great place to start drinking from early afternoon.
Bars and Izakaya (Nightlife)
Hoping for a charming night out? Asakusa is a great suburb to spend the night away, with countless bars and izakaya to choose from, every establishment offers a unique experience alongside some great drinks and food. Hoppy Street is easily the most popular place to drink, however, it is not exactly where the locals in Asakusa spend their nights. Below are some of my personal recommendations for a good night out.
A cozy bar located on the main road of Kaminarimon-dori, Tokyo Knowledge is a favorite among locals and international tourists lucky enough to stumble across the place. The bartenders here can all speak English and are very welcoming, you will find most foreigners who live around the area visiting the place as well.
The bar offers a very laid-back atmosphere with affordable drinks. From the old-school hip-hop being played on their speakers to the classic movies they play on mute through a projector, the chilled atmosphere makes Tokyo Knowledge a go-to spot to grab a beer or two, or three.
Might be one of the weirdest named bars, this is another fantastic place for a fun night out. With English friendly bartenders, they offer a great selection of drinks and food, with many vegan options as well. Sofas are lined along the wall and the inside of the bar is designed like a hippy log cabin, after a few drinks you may wonder if you’re still in Asakusa or a cabin in the mountains. The best part about the bar is that it`s dog friendly, and the owner generally leaves their dogs at the bar. You`ll often find a dog chilling on the sofa, and the people here are more than cool in allowing you to pet them. Sports events are generally shown here, why not watch tonight’s game at CafeRest’CuznHomeground?
・Pure’s Sound Market
A DJ bar located in the west side of Asakusa, the venue is a small basement bar where underground music lovers congregate. Try testing your musical catalog here, as the live DJ performances will have you scratching your head as they scratch their disks. The DJ events can range in any genre, so check the schedule as they might be playing something you totally do not expect. Local artists and DJ’s also sell their artwork, records, and mixtapes here, it is worth checking out just to dig some vinyl records.
The venue is easy to miss and can be quite intimidating for a first-timer. Go with a friend, just be ready to dance to some absurd shoegaze or trip-hop.
・Baan Shisha Asakusa
Asakusa has many shisha bars, however most can be a tourist hot-spot and quite gimmicky. Baan Shisha is a great local shisha bar, with fairly priced drinks and hookah. Sofa seats and a cozy environment make it the ideal place to catch up with a friend. It is in close proximity to many izakayas and bars, a great venue to start or end the night off. The staff are quirky and fun, the venue is cozy and chill, the shisha is tasty and cheap, what more could you ask for?
Figure 8: A real groovy disco night at Pure’s Sound Market