Asakusa (浅草) is best known as the site of Tokyo’s most venerable Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, whose towering worship hall is filled with a continual throng of petitioners and holiday-makers. Stalls before the temple cater to the crowds, peddling trinkets and keepsakes as they have done for centuries; old-fashioned craftshops display exquisite hair combs, paper fans and calligraphy brushes; and all around is the inevitable array of restaurants, drinking places and fast-food stands. It’s the infectious carnival atmosphere that makes Asakusa so appealing. The biggest festival here is the Sanja Matsuri, but there are numerous smaller celebrations; ask at the information centre in front of Sensō-ji’s main gate if there’s anything on.
Though you can easily reach Asakusa by subway, a more pleasant way of getting here – or away – is by river. The ferry terminal is under Azuma-bashi, opposite Philippe Starck’s eye-catching Flamme d’Or Building.