Adventures in Asakusa – By Valerie Taylor (Adventures in Asakusa – Part 1)
An odd stroke of fate gave us identical misfortunes, even though I pulled 38 and he pulled 17. If you’re wondering how bad our omikuji were, an example of what was written on mine was things like: “Traveling and moving is a bad idea,” “The person you are waiting for will never come,” and “Don’t try to start a business, because it will fail.” Ouch. We laughed off our equally horrendous fortunes then went to the incense basin to get purified.
In case you don’t know how to do incense cleansing, stand in the path of the billowing, richly-scented smoke and inhale it. Some people dive in and stick their faces straight into the fumes.
Once your spirit has been purified, you’re free to climb the steps of Senso-ji. You can toss some spare change into a box, clap your hands together, and pray, or you can merely gaze at the resplendent gilded room. Hideho and I both agreed that there’s something spectacular about the architecture and layout of Senso-ji. The temple grounds are decorated with stone pagodas, Buddha, and shrines dedicated to various gods. I love the gorgeous koi fish in the Japanese-style pond. You can watch them swim while feasting on festival snacks like takoyaki, choco-bananas and shaved ice.
My companion and I wandered the streets of Asakusa for quite some time, discussing the differences in America and Japan. Before we knew it, our stomachs were growling. Did I mention that Asakusa is the capital of izakaya, taiyaki (fish-shaped pastry) and yakitori? The back alleys of this district are nothing but small eateries and bars. Vending machines selling tobacco and beer are ubiquitous. No matter what you’re craving—Nepali, Thai, Indian, Vegan, Sushi, Ramen, Sweets—you can find it. The best part is that Asakusa restaurants are remarkably budget-friendly.
Eventually, a sake bar off of Nakamise-dori captured our interest. Daimasu Sake Bar is a sister location to various, similarly named stores throughout Taito-ku. We order two large craft beers, a single serving of sake, maguro sashimi, tamagoyaki, fish cake, a tomato and onion salad, and for my friend because the eyes scare me, niboshi (dried anchovies) over rice. The food was scrumptious. Our bill totalled less than 5000 yen, which is quite the steal in Tokyo. Usually, dinner averages around 3000 per individual.
If you ever find yourself in Asakusa searching for a quiet, economical location with an expansive menu of craft beer and sake and delicious food, I highly recommend Daimasu Sake Bar.
Address: Tokyo, Taito-ku, Asakusa 1-2-8.
Asakusa was once the hub of Kabuki and other theatrics. Now, it attracts the attention of people for all over the world. Souvenirs, food, performances and lovely historical sites are abound. There is something for everyone in Asakusa—all you need to do is walk around and keep your eyes open. Who knows, you might even make a new friend like I did.