A Visit to Nakamise Shopping Street (Part 1)

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, is also one of my favorites. The massive Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, is one of Asakusa’s best-known landmarks:

and visitors often take photos with the gate’s massive chochin, which weighs almost 1,500 pounds.

But a visit to Senso-ji is not complete without a stroll down Nakamise Shopping Street – the vibrant line of shops and stalls that lines the approach to the temple.

Traditionally, vendors’ stalls or shops line the approach to Japanese shrines and temples. The goods on display can vary, but they usually include a variety of tasty local specialties, like these small cakes filled with sweet adzuki bean paste: 

Other shops sell candles, prayer beads, fans, and souvenirs. (Including touristy items like T-shirts and tabi–traditional Japanese socks–in a variety of colors and designs.) Although Nakamise street is a “touristy” version of the traditional temple approach, the vendors sell traditional goods and treats as well as those designed to appeal to tourists’ tastes.

I love the bustle, color, and seasonal decorations–and I make it a point to visit every time I’m in Tokyo, for the treats as well as the atmosphere.  Every day’s a festival at Nakamise Street!