For a sense of old Tokyo, venture to one of Japan’s most venerable markets, Asakusa’s Nakamise Dori. Along this narrow—often crowded—street, Japanese food, clothing, and souvenir shops line the path to Tokyo’s most famous Buddhist temple, Senso-ji. This 250-meter street is brimming with nearly 90 shops and stalls.
Pop into independent food shops to sample traditional Japanese treats, such as Kiku-ya’s rice-based desserts dango (a sweet dumpling) and daifuku (rice cake stuffed with sweet red bean paste). At Kine-ya, try charcoal fired rice crackers, and at Asakusa Chouchin-Monaka, sample sweet monaka made from azuki bean jam stuffed between mochi wafers.
Beyond Japanese snacks, you can peruse goods from kimonos and kimono footwear to traditional toys and tapestries. Busen-do’s folding fans and decorative ceremonial envelopes are travel friendly souvenirs, while the Japanese swords and knives at Koyama Shoten make great display pieces. An array of hashi (chopsticks) at Asakusa Take-ya will have you craving Japanese cooking, and the lanterns at Hirao Shoten are reminiscent of the streets of ancient Japan.
For another snack after shopping, find the yatai (food stalls) between Nakamise and Senso-ji temple. Enjoy popular Japanese festival foods like yakitori (skewered chicken), yakisoba (fried buckwheat noodles), and okonomiyaki made from pan fried batter and cabbage with a mix of ingredients including octopus, vegetables, and fried noodles.
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As this being my first time in Japan, I was obviously taken aback by it's tradition in all things, I was not at all surprised that the Nakamise Market would live up to the same standards.
I arrived in Japan in September, when the weather was raining and humid, however, I didn't let that stop me from meandering around Asakusa while taking in the sights and smells of my surrounds.
The Nakamise Market has everything a person would want. Indulges, souvenirs and history. The food however is what I remember most. Baked goods, ramen, sushi, and rare Japanese delicacies lined the long street, setting of an aroma that left me craving more, which I indulged in without any problem.
After my food comma wore off, I decided to walk my calories off by getting lost amongst the temples of the Asakusa Shrine.
I recommend this market for anyone interested in losing a few hours to the food and culture of Asakusa.