Tokyo Walks: Asakusa, Sumida River & Skytree

24 Feb
Sumida river (640x390)

Sunset in Sumida River

If you ever come to Tokyo, expect a lot of walking.  Even though public transportation is available at every corner of the city, walking is the best way to see Tokyo.

For those of us who live in Tokyo or call it hometown walking around the city is a way of spending time.  We walk to get to the destinations, of course, but we also walk simply to see the scenery, discover interesting places, talk to friends, or exercise.  When I’m with my girlfriends, for instance, someone usually asks the typical question. “What are we going to do now?” This query is inevitably met with the answer, “Let’s walk a little.”

When I was visiting my family in Tokyo over the New Year break, I stopped by Asakusa, known for Sensōji, the oldest temple in Tokyo.  On that day Sensōji was very crowded with people who came for hatsumōde (初詣), the first shrine or temple visit of the New Year.  I wasn’t interested in standing in line for hours among hundreds of people, so I snapped a few photos of the famous pagoda and walked toward Sumida River a few blocks away.

 Sensōji in Asakusa

Sensōji in Asakusa

Sumida River is where the famous haiku poet Matsuo Bashō lived alongside the famous banana tree (Japanese: bashō) from which he took his pen name.  By the time I reached the river the sun was beginning to set.  The boat carrying tourists for sightseeing was departing, and on the other side of the river I could see Tokyo Skytree.  Taking in the scenery, I was struck by the mixture of old and new – ancient temples and new buildings, traditional Japanese shops and trendy stores for imported goods, women and men in kimono and young couples holding their hands.

Since I didn’t have any particular plan in mind, I kept walking toward Skytree.  After about 20 minutes walk I finally arrived at the tallest structure in Japan built in 2010.  That night it was lit up in purple (on some nights it is blue).

sky tree (360x640)

Tokyo Skytree

There were so many tourists of all ages and nationalities who were shopping at stores, having meals at restaurants, waiting to go up to the observatory, or busy taking pictures.  I didn’t intend to go up to the observatory, but I asked a man behind the counter how much it was to do that.  He said it was 2500 yen (approximately $25) and there was 3 hour-wait, which was enough for me to turn around and head home.

Luckily there was a train station right by there, so I didn’t have to walk back to Asakusa to take the train.  Here is the beauty of walking around Tokyo.  Wherever you end up,  you can always use public transportation to go home.

Spontaneous walks like this are what I missed the most while living in the U.S.  It’s nice to have sidewalks and feel safe walking the streets in the evening.  There is no particular purpose for such strolls except to observe and explore.  I now appreciate them much more than before.

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3 Responses to “Tokyo Walks: Asakusa, Sumida River & Skytree”

  1. hollywoodsam February 25, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    getting lost in a walk is the best way to see things.

    • Yumi February 28, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      Yes! I should do it more often.


  1. Travel Notes: 東京! 日本! | Those Ordinary Moments · 那些瞬間的片刻 - December 3, 2014

    […] Flame (Flamme d’Or) in the distance. View from Asakusa / 浅草. Yep, it’s possible to walk from Senso-ji to the Tokyo Sky Tree; it’s a pretty nice walk, and you’ll get to take in a breathtaking view of the Sumida […]

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