Not the full and proper “Top 10 Tokyo” but here’s a quick and dirty for @cyanatar who is coming to Japan for a bit.
Asakusa: The Traditional Tour.
-This goes in an approximate order of where you actually want to walk. Start from Asakusa station and while you’re there out Ekimise Shopping Center in the station which just opened this year. Since you’ll be walking past the station again its a good place to look at things you might want and check their prices so you don’t get ripped off in the more touristy areas.
1) Asakusa Cultural Tourist Information Center.
-It’s close to the station and at certain times provides guided walking tours in English. It also has a maps and brochures in 4 languages and the staff can help you book various cultural activities (such as making sembei or buying tickets) The 8th floor has a viewing deck that overlooks the river and gives you a nice view of Tokyo Sky Tree.
2) Kaminarimon Gate and Nakamise Dori
-Kaminarimon or “The Thunder Gate” was originally built in 941 but was reconstructed in Asakusa in 1635. Unfortunately it burned down many times in various fires and in WW2. The current gate has been standing since 1960. The front hosts the shinto statues of Fujin (Wind god-east) and Raijin (Thunder god-west) with the back being the Buddhist god Tenryu (east) and the goddess Kinryu (west) Nakamise Dori is a great traditional shopping street, keep your eye on the right side as you’ll walk past an ice cream shop with 50 flavours of ice cream from Chocolate to Wasabi.
3) Denboin-Dori & Asakusa Engei Hall
-Turning off Nakamise just before you hit the temple (don’t worry we’ll come back) head down Denboin-Dori which is just another interesting shopping street on your way to Asakusa Engei Hall The hall is a theater dedicated to traditional comedy “Rakugo” even if your Japanese isn’t that good magic shows, acrobatics and music are also commonly shown. Tickets are 2800¥ with showtimes from 11:40-16:30 and the evening show from 16:40-21:00. Attendance is casual so you can come or go as you like between acts if you don’t feel like staying the whole time.
4) Hoppy Street and Tokiwado Kaminarikokoshi Honpo
-Hoppy Street is a good place to head down as by now you might be hungry (or might not if you’ve been enjoying Sembei samples and street food) Tokiwado Kaminarikokoshi Honpo is a place where you can make kaminariokoshi which is an Edo Era “Rice Krispie treat” for 2,000¥ which includes the workshop, materials and your snack at the end.
5) Asakusa Hanayashiki
-Because nothing says “Tradition” quite like a theme park. Not usually busy Hanayashiki originated as a flower park before being transformed into an amusement park around 1872. Admission is 1000¥ and you can either buy a ride pass for 2300¥ extra or buy single ride tickets, services are somewhat available in English.
6) Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine
-Now head over to the temple and shrine through the back way or making your way back to Nakamise Dori, but you’ll be exiting that way…
7) Back down Nakamise back to Kaminarimon where you can Hop on a Rikshaw!
-Many of these guys speak English and know a lot about the area, you can get them to recommend an Okonomiyaki restaurant while they take you on a riding tour of the area including Tanuki Street and for a little extra they might take you off the path to…
8) Asahi Beer Hall
-Not a usual stop and maybe not a stop you’ll care about if you don’t drink but an interesting stop to make considering the buildings… Unique architecture. Long do even local Japanese debate what the hell that building is supposed to represent. Consensus says it’s a golden poo but in reality it’s supposed to be beer foam floating off into the wind. While officially no entrance fee it’s “STRONGLY” requested that when going to the viewing deck on the 22nd floor you purchase a beer to enjoy.
(If your Rikshaw won’t take you over the river then once you’re back at Kaminarimon now is a good time to swing past Ekimise if you wanted to get anything there, then you can walk over the bridge to the Beer Hall or skip that and hop on the train to…)
9) Tokyo Sky Tree
At 634 meters high, is the world’s tallest free-standing broadcasting tower. Sky Tree costs about 2060¥ to go up and tickets need to be bought in advance most of the time. But no worries if you don’t care for heights there’s a whole area of things to see.