6 Great Hidden Spots in Asakusa You Can Take Your Kids To
Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s main tourist spots that has a working-class atmosphere. It is a difficult place to take your kids to, as it is always crowded. Lots of tourists come to see the famous Kaminari-mon Gate and Senso-ji Temple, or to try some unique dishes and snacks. But worry no more, for here are 6 great but little-known spots in Asakusa that you can take your kids to!
Oct 03 2017 (Feb 09 2020)
1. Cocomo [Asakusa]
One of the first things you need to do when you come to Japan is try on a kimono! Wandering around the historical streets of Asakusa in a kimono will make you feel as though you have gone back in time. There are many stores that offer rental kimono services, but this store is the most highly recommended one. It is located just 30 seconds away from the famous Senso-ji Temple and Kaminari-mon Gate, so it is fairly easy to find the store, even for first timers. Apart from kimono, you can pretty much rent all the things you need - from shoes and handbags to other small things - so you don’t have to bring anything with you. In addition, they offer baggage check-in services. It is an ideal place for tourists who are looking to try on a kimono!
They have a variety of rental kimono plans, starting from 3,900 yen. For females, in addition to regular kimono, they have other more gorgeous and decorated ones called Haikara-san (a style of kimono that was used as school uniforms for females during 1890 - 1930) and Oiran (kimono worn by high-class escorts in the mid-18th century). These ones are for those who want to walk around the streets wearing beautiful and unique kimono!
Plans for males start at the same price. They have a wide variety, such as yukata, hakama (formal skirt-like pants for males), samurai, and ninja outfits. They have an option to rent katanas too, so if you really want to go all-out, you could walk around with a katana! There are plans for kids as well, so your whole family can have a lot of fun!
Other than kimono rental services, they also have photo shooting plans done by professional cameramen. They will take pictures of you dressed as a maiko, oiran, samurai, ninja, or kabuki actor in-store. After that, you have the option of going outside to walk around the town while getting more photos taken.
2. Asakusa Jidaiya [Asakusa]
Located pretty close to Asakusa Station, Asakusa Jidaiya is a facility where you can experience a wide variety of traditional Japanese cultural activities. It is recommended for children and people who easily get bored of regular sightseeing. They have everything prepared for visitors, so you can just walk in without preparing anything!
Some recommended programs for people with children are the Chochin Designing Experience (7,000 yen plus tax) and Andon Designing Experience (5,000 yen plus tax). Chochin and Andon refer to traditional Japanese paper lanterns and lamps respectively. For these two programs, you can put your name or words of your preference, or draw what you like on the paper cover of your lantern and lamp, so that you can make unique and original crafts. They are traditional handcrafts of Japan, and are ideal as a little souvenir to give to your friends back home.
There is a program where you can play a traditional Japanese musical instrument, the shamisen (5,000 yen plus tax). The instructor will teach you everything - from the history of the instrument to how to hold and play it - so even if you've never touched it, you can have a good time. There is an option for this plan that lets you play the shamisen while dressed in a kimono (9,000 yen plus tax). It is recommended for people who want to experience Japanese culture. It will be a great experience for you and your kids, as it is not every day that you get to play such an instrument!
3. Hanayashiki [Asakusa]
Hanayashiki is the oldest amusement park in Japan, with a history of more than 160 years. There are more than 20 attractions available, such as the standard roller coaster, merry-go-around, and haunted house. There's also the Japanese Festival Corner, which replicates popular festival food stalls around Japan.
It is especially recommended for people with children under 4 years old. While they do have to be accompanied by a person older than 13 years old, the attendant can ride the attraction for free, which means that apart from entrance fee, the attendant can enjoy most of the rides for free. Some attractions, however, require attendants to pay, so please ask the park's employees for more information.
A popular ride here is the Asakusa Labyrinth, Shinobi-no Toride (400 yen), in which you need to try and reach the goal in a maze filled with traps set by ninjas. It is filled with a number of traps, such as tilted walls and a hall of moats. It is a 3-story building, and you will be moving between stories without even realizing it, so you'll get lost in the maze before you know it! You will need to use both your brains and physical strength to conquer it. Children above 3 years of age can enter, so why not try this maze with your kids?
4. Asakusa Rox Matsuri-yu [Asakusa]
If you ever get tired of sightseeing, this is the place to be. Matsuri-yu is a spa and bath facility that's located in a big building called Asakusa Rox. You can find it right in front of the train station. They have 11 types of baths, 3 kinds of saunas, 2 restaurants, reclining chairs with a TV, and body care services. You can have a really nice rest here.
The recommended bath here is their Open-Air Jade Bath. It is a popular bath with a great view of Tokyo Skytree. The floor of this bath is covered with jade, which is believed to have healing powers, so you might be able to feel the power of the stone while bathing here.
After taking a bath, you can drop by their gaming area. They have a large variety of games, so you and your kids can have a lot of fun together!
5. Owl Shrine [Asakusa]
If your kids like animals, Owl Shrine might be the best place to take them. As the name suggests, you can play, pet, and even feed owls that are used to humans. You don’t really get to watch owls up close normally, so it’ll be a fun activity for both you and your children!
You can let this big owl (Eurasian eagle-owl) fly off your arm. Its wingspan extends to more than 1.6m. This is the only place in Japan where you can fly an owl as big as this. Children over 7 years of age are allowed to experience this, so it’ll surely be a memorable experience for the whole family!
It has a Japanese-style interior, and a lot of work has been done to make the whole store seem photogenic. Real plants and wood pieces were brought in so that guests can take pictures of owls in a natural situation. They pay extra attention to the lighting so that the fine details of the owl's wings can be seen or photographed. They also arranged some traditional Japanese items - such as Kamidana (household shrine) - in the store, and the walls are made of Washi (Japanese paper), making it a perfect place to take a picture of Japan's culture.
*This place has closed down.
6. Asakusa Nakamise [Asakusa]
Asakusa Nakamise is a shopping street near Senso-ji Temple that's known and loved by locals for being the oldest shopping street in Japan. Going under Kaminari-mon Gate - a famous photo shooting spot for foreign tourists - you will see beautiful electronic signs and seasonal decorations, followed by 89 stores standing in a row on both sides of the street. The view is absolutely breathtaking.
Toys Terao is one of the shops you should go to with your children. With a history of 120 years, the store has toys that excite people of all ages. Especially recommended is their Festive Kitty-chan (420 yen – 525 yen). It is an exclusive edition toy that's only available at this shop. You can also get other Terao-exclusive toys, such as Festive Monchhichi (815 yen -1,680 yen) and action figures of Godzilla and Ultraman (730 yen - 1,260 yen). Japanese toys that are popular worldwide are also available here, so you can search for a great souvenir to give to your friends and family!
If you and your kids are interested in samurai or ninjas, Koyama Shoten is highly recommended. They mainly sell replicas of katanas, but they also have other handcrafts. If you like ninjas, then you need to get the Big Shuriken (900 yen). It is a really typically shaped shuriken that can make you feel like you’ve become a ninja. You can also get an ornamental katana called Minimini Dragon Set A (9,700 yen). A golden dragon is drawn on the scabbard. It might be small, but it stands out well! You can’t swing it around since it is ornamental, but the look of it is already cool enough. It is not too big, so it is easy to put in your suitcase and take home with you.
That’s the list! Asakusa is a go-to tourist spot, so it’s always crowded, making it difficult to walk around with your children. The places introduced in this article are relatively less busy and fun for little kids, so it is safe to take them to these places. Keep these recommendations in mind, and make the best travel plans!
*Thumbnail image source: Pierre-Alexandre Garneau/Flickr
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.