Keiko Tanabe

6th January, 2023


Asakusa is one of the most famous tourist sites in Tokyo, with its traditional downtown atmosphere. The Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) at the entrance to Senso-ji Temple, located in the heart of the area, is bustling with domestic and foreign tourists every day. Young people dressed in elegant kimonos available at Asakusa's many kimono rental shops parade through the streets, and the sight of rickshaws carrying tourists speeding by is exciting, even to someone like me who was born and raised in an urban environment, as if I were in a theme park.

Nakamise Shopping Street
One of the oldest shopping streets in Japan. During the Edo period (1603-1868), it was developed as a gateway city with teahouses, confectioneries and souvenir shops along the approach to Senso-ji Temple for worshippers. Today's Nakamise is lined with gourmet restaurants and Japanese-style souvenir shops, where visitors can enjoy freshly baked rice cakes, sembei (rice biscuits), ningyo-yaki (Japanese sweets made from sponge cake and red bean paste) and other hot, freshly made sweets.</div>

Senso-ji Temple Main Hall
Crossing the Nakamise shopping street, you will come to the Hozomon Gate, through which you will reach the main hall. In front of the main hall is an incense burner, where people bathe in the smoke. When I was a child, my grandmother used to make me bathe in the smoke to "make me smarter". It is generally believed that bathing in smoke improves what is wrong with the body, but it also seems to be a kind of ritual to purify the body and pay homage to the Kannon.
It also seems to be a kind of ritual to purify oneself and to pay homage to Kannon. After praying in the main hall, be sure to draw a fortune. It's like a fortune biscuit, a message from God. In fact, I drew a fortune that day and it came out "bad". Bad is the worst rank, but don't worry if you get this one. It's a happy message that says, "It's bad now, but it can only get better from now on if you take care!". If you take care of yourself, things can only get better from now on!

Gozen Soba Kaminarimon Tagawa 
After greeting, you go to eat. On holidays, Asakusa is a busy place with long lines, but Tagawa, in a quiet alley to the left of the Kaminarimon gate, is a hole in the wall. I have fond memories of coming here often to eat with my grandmother. The menu offers many bowls of soba, udon and rice. I had the "Tempura Soba with seasonal vegetables" with beautifully coloured vegetables.

Asakusa Umezono 
A long-established bakery shop, established over 160 years ago. A must visit for traditional pastries. Among the sweet anmitsu, oshiruko (sweet red bean soup), less sweet ozoni and tokoroten (sweet Tokoroten) on the menu, I highly recommend the awa-zenzai specialty during the colder months. When I was a child, I ate anmitsu with ice cream and fruit, but my grandmother always had awa-zenzai. The combination of steamed rice cake and slow cooked red bean paste is the most delicious taste ever.

Asakusa Daikokuya Tempura 
Asakusa's famous sinew bowl restaurant, where there is always a long queue. The big golden tempura and the thick, sweet and spicy sauce will whet your appetite.
This is a rarely visited tourist spot. If you do, waiting in line to eat is also a memorable experience.

Hagoita market 
At the end of the year, a fair is held at Senso-ji Temple, where hagoita boards, used for centuries as good luck charms and to ward off evil spirits, are sold. The many beautiful hagoita boards are a sight to behold, and sightseeing in Asakusa on Hagoita market day will be a special memory.

Original text

東京の観光名所といえば下町情緒あふれる浅草。その中心にある浅草寺の玄関口”雷門”は、国内外 の観光客で日々賑わいを見せています。 浅草に数あるレンタル着物店で艶やかな和服に着替えた若者たちが街を練り歩き、観光客を乗せた 人力車が颯爽と走り抜ける様子は、下町で生まれ育った私でもテーマパークに来たようでワクワク するものです。
仲見世商店街 日本最古の商店街の一つ。江戸時代、浅草寺への参拝客が通る参道に茶屋や菓子屋、お土産屋など が並び門前町として発展しました。 現代の仲見世には食べ歩きグルメや和風のお土産物屋が軒を連ね、焼き立ての団子や煎餅、人形焼 (スポンジケーキにあんこなどを入れて焼いた和菓子)など、熱々出来立てのお菓子を楽しむこと ができます。

仲見世商店街を通り過ぎると宝蔵門が現れ、そこをくぐると本堂に辿り着きます。 本堂の前にはお線香をたく香炉が置かれており、人々が煙を浴びています。私も子供の頃「頭がよ くなりますように」と祖母に煙を浴びさせられたものです。一般的には煙を浴びると体の悪いとこ ろがよくなると言われていますが、汚れを落とし身を清めて観音様にお参りするという一種の儀式
でもあるようです。 本堂でお参りをしたら、ぜひおみくじを引いてみてください。フォーチュンクッキーのようなもの で、神様からのメッセージです。 実はこの日引いてみたら”凶”が出ました。凶は一番悪いランクなのですが、これが出てもご安心 を。「今は悪いけど気をつけたらこれからは良くなる一方だよ!」という明るいメッセージだと受 け取りましょう。
御膳蕎麦 雷門田川
お参りを済ませたら腹ごしらえを。休日の浅草はどの店も行列をなしていますが、雷門を入ってす ぐ左の静かな路地にある田川は穴場。祖母とよく食べにきた思い出の店です。 そばもうどんも丼も沢山のメニューがあり選ぶ楽しみがあります。私は色とりどりの野菜が美しい” 旬野菜の天ぷら蕎麦”を食べました。

浅草 梅園
創業160年以上の老舗の甘味処。伝統的なスイーツを食べたければぜひ訪れてください。 甘いあんみつやおしるこ、甘くないお雑煮やところてんなど数あるメニューの中で、寒い季節はぜ ひ名物の”あわぜんざい”をおすすめします。子供の頃はアイスやフルーツののったあんみつを食べ ていた私ですが、祖母はいつもあわぜんざいでした。見た目は地味ですが食べたらびっくり、ふわ ふわに蒸された餅とじっくり炊いたあんこの組み合わせは、この上ない至福の味です。

浅草 大黒家天麩羅
いつも行列が絶えない浅草名物の天丼の店。きつね色に揚がった大きな天ぷらと甘辛く濃厚なタレ が食欲をそそります。

年末の浅草寺では、縁起物や魔除けのアイテムとして古くから伝わる羽子板を売る縁日が開催され ます。華やかな羽子板の数々は見応えがあり、羽子板市の日に合わせて浅草観光を楽しめたら特別 な思い出になることでしょう。 

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Keiko Tanabe