Asakusa and the resonance of history

If you could drop into Tokyo in the mid-17th century and walk from the city defined by the Tokugawa family and its administration into the area called Asakusa, you’d find an entertainment area dotted with a variety of restaurants, theaters, and everything in between. The center of the village was Senso-ji Temple. The legend of the temple begins long ago when two brothers found a Buddha in the Sumida river while fishing. The statue was brought back to the small community and it was enshrined in the house of a local leader. His house was turned into a shrine and that was, as the story goes, history.

The Senso-ji temple was expanded by Tokugawa Ieyasu on his arrival in Edo (later renamed Tokyo). The temple complex included the statue and remained intact through a fire in the 18th century. It was World War II that brought an end to the temple complex as U.S. bombs destroyed the community and the temple.

In 1958, reconstruction began and the current temple and shops that are housed within the grounds are a center of both local and tourist visits. While the entertainment district this ground used to be has changed, the area holds a special place in the Tokyo megapolis.

Our visit to Asakusa will include Senso-ji, the nearby gardens and a search for the elusive Inari scattered around the area! During the day we will visit the markets in Senso-ji, spend time in the shrine and the nearby temple. You’ll learn the difference between a temple and a shrine in Japan and then explore the area.

As we wander Asakusa we’ll head toward the Sumida River, walk the banks, and I’ll tell the story of the brothers who found the statue in the river and bit about it’s history. From there we’ll walk to the Tokyo Skytree Tower to get a view of the Kanto plain and Tokyo. If the weather is good, we’ll see as far west as Mount Oyama..

The Skytree Tower is the tallest structure in Japan and was completed in 2010 and opened to the public in 2012. Built as a broadcasting tower for NHK news corporation, the tower is a great place to get your bearings in Tokyo as it is visible across the city.

As we head back toward Asakusa we’ll find our way into the city and locate an inexpensive restaurant, my personal favorite, Magura Bito

As night descends, we’ll finish our day in Asakusa with a visit to Big Echo, the Karaoke spot. Be prepared to sing to your favorite song!

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