Number 1 for sightseeing in Tokyo, Asakusa district is great to discover Japan and take many photos of Japanese moments shared with the love of your life! It is also a very popular place for women to wear a yukata (Japanese summer dress), for couples to do activities together, and to buy things to decorate one’s home. The delightful sights, sounds and smells of old Tokyo will remain special memories of your travel to Japan!
Professional tour guide in Japan, I guided many groups, a few couples and a few families in Asakusa district. They were always very happy with what they saw and had great fun taking pictures here and there. I befriended many shopkeepers and artisans, who are friendly and very happy to tell people about their products and techniques but who unfortunately do not speak much English. I could always find a restaurant matching the desires of the travellers I guided; there is really lots of choice for the food in Asakusa! And if a husband and a wife want to eat something different, there is always the possibility to go eat at a so-called “family restaurant”.
Unforgettable spots & photos for two
A typical day in Asakusa starts with photos under the big red lantern of the Kaminarimon Thunder Gate (1-minute walk from Exit 1 of Asakusa station); this spot is packed but foreign tourists here are usually respectful so you should capture an excellent moment. Smile! Walking through the gate towards the ancient Senso-ji Buddhist temple (628 AD), you enter the busy Nakamise-dori main shopping street, which hosts around 80 shops on 250 metres; it is colourful, decorated with cherry blossoms in spring, yellow/orange/red leaves in autumn… If it is the end of your stay in Japan, this street is a good place to buy inexpensive souvenirs for your family & friends or something for you: postcards of Asakusa, coloured paper, wooden dolls, hair accessories, Japanese clogs, etc. Otherwise, you can get rice crackers to survive until you both get hungry 🙂 I particularly recommend freshly baked “melon pan” found at Kagetsudo shop to share a sweet taste and delicious green tea ice-creams found at Suzukien tea house (7 types of matcha gelati). Good manners in Japan: eat in front of the shop, not while walking…
At the end of the street, you will reach another gate with a tall five-storey pagoda on your left and the main hall of Senso-ji in front of you. After going through this gate, take a peek behind you and you will notice 2 giant straw sandals! Do not hesitate to ask somebody to take a photo of you two below a giant sandal; it will be great to show back home or share on your favourite SNS! Before walking up the stairs to enter the main hall, you may buy a pair of lucky charms on your left, or get fortune-telling papers on your right. What have the gods in mind for you? Check it out: the text is also in English. On the right on Senso-ji, you can see a white Shinto gate marking the entrance of the very pretty Asakusa Shrine. If you feel like asking something special to the Japanese gods, write your prayer with your lover on an “ema” wooden votive plaque that you can buy just on the right. Walking on the left of Senso-ji, you will see a lovely garden with a statue of Buddha and a small bridge under which Japanese carps swim slowly. In the right season, you will also see many pink/red flowers…
Shopping for gifts and home
On your way to Senso-ji or after seeing it, you may explore secondary shopping streets of the area both east and west, especially the perpendicular arcade “Shin-nakamise” on a rainy day. You can find various traditional objects, including leather products made by artisans, summer dresses (called yukata rather than kimono), folding fans, old-fashioned hair ornaments, handmade boxwood combs and many other accessories, shoes, bags, additional suitcases to bring back your souvenirs, high-quality trunks with Japanese patterns, “noren” curtains hanging in front of shop doors, kimono tumblers, “tenugui” towels used as handkerchiefs or gift wrapping, samue for men (I buy mine at Fujigoromo)… Will you buy gifts for each other here? For fun and practical gifts, you can also go to Don Quijote Asakusa, which is open 24 hours every day! For incense with traditional scents to use at home, you should go to Nenjudo though, south of the Thunder Gate.
Views from buildings
Either before or after visiting the area, enter Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center and enjoy exciting views from its observatory: the pagoda and main hall stand out in front of you; the Sumida River, bridge, Asahi Beer Tower, Asahi Super Dry Hall, and Tokyo Skytree are on your right. Tripods are forbidden here so you need to ask somebody to take your photo together with these sights in the background. When the night falls (quite early in Japan), the view is even better: main shopping street and pagoda with lights, Tokyo Skytree with colourful illuminations… Consider as a couple if you are still in a walking mood; why not walk to Tokyo Skytree to enjoy the view of Asakusa from the tower? Many shops and the Sumida Aquarium are also there; I warmly recommend you the latter as many couples seem to enjoy it 🙂
Romantic moments & shared activities
In spring, you may enjoy a particularly romantic moment by strolling a few hundred metres among the many cherry blossoms of Sumida Park (east) and in summer by watching the Sumida River Fireworks. All year long, you may rent a yukata to walk around like a Japanese (advance booking recommended at your favourite shop). You may also consider a guided tour by rickshaw with seats for two, and get a cool photo with your driver. Cycling however is not a good option for couples in this busy area…
The top things to do for a couple in Asakusa in 2018 are to practice traditional activities in English such as woodblock printing at Mokuhankan (wonderful new experience on a rainy day), create and share an unforgettable moment with Nazobako live escape game (reserve to be just the two of you or for a double date), and ride a roller coaster at Japan’s first amusement park (Hanayashiki opened in 1853).
Various restaurants in Asakusa
When you get hungry, enter one of the many izakaya restaurants with outdoor seating and menus with pictures on Hoppy street (west), try a traditional restaurant providing tempura deep fried seafood and vegetables, try a sushi restaurant, or enter a small restaurant to enjoy an intimate moment with your partner (for example Tokyo’s oldest rice balls shop Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku). Vegans/vegetarians can savour vegetables at Kaemon Asakusa, and Muslims can savour noodles at Naritaya Halal Ramen Shop. You should all find food suiting your desires and mood of the moment 🙂 Still, plan in advance to celebrate special occasions: Valentine’s Day, honeymoon dinner, wedding anniversary…
Ending well your date
If your hotel/hostel is in the area, enjoy the evening too: the shops are closed but many of the shutters are decorated with traditional illustrations (e.g. paintings of local festivals) and are illuminated. The area is then relaxing and romantic; it may be time for your last cool twofies in Asakusa 🙂