So you’re going to Tokyo! That’s fantastic! Japan is wonderful country with a unique and beautiful culture. You’ll want to bring lots of little goodies home for yourself and for your friends and family, and there is no short supply of amazing and hand-made items.
But where do you go for these handicrafts and souvenirs when you’re in Tokyo? Sure, there are many places throughout the city, but if you’re in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, there’s one place not to be missed. One place where you can find something for everyone.
It’s called Nakamise Dori, and is the entranceway to Senso-ji Temple, on Kaminarimon Dori. You will know it immediately by the huge crowds around the area – it seemed to be crowded the entire time we were in Tokyo. And since we stayed at the Gate Hotel (which was amazing and worth checking out if you’re looking for a hotel with a great location for site-seeing in Tokyo) which was across the street and down just a bit, we had a good view of it for the whole week.
So yes, the street is packed with tourists, but just take a breath, relax, and stroll at your leisure down one side, check out Senso-ji when you get to the end, then make your way back down the opposite side. We did this, checking out all the shops, and then wound up going back twice to pick up items we saw & just had to go back for.
What can you get in the shops on Nakamise Dori? Just about any kind of Japanese souvenir you can think of! There are inexpensive, machine-made items galore, so you won’t be hardpressed to find your t-shirts and key chains. But you can also find hand-made treasures, such as chopsticks, woodblock artwork, and pottery, at what we found to be very reasonable prices, and beautifully wrapped to boot!
We were able to get little kimonos for our young nieces, and Japanese puzzle boxes for our nephews, as well as many other gifts, which made battling the crowds well worth it (not to mention the fact that the crowd was quite orderly, polite, and easy to get in and out of – just please keep a tight hold of your little ones if they’re with you!). Luckily, my husband was at least a head taller than the crowd, so if we got separated, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Regardless, I do recommend that if you are traveling with someone else, that you make a plan of where to meet in case you get separated.
There is one shop on Nakamise Dori I feel I must mention. We went there two out of our three trips to the street. Not only did they have some of the most unique gift items (like the puzzle boxes), they also carry an array of beautiful Buddha figurines, sake sets (which are not too expensive and are so adorable), masks (that are not like the cheap chintzy ones you see at so many of the other shops), and so many other crafts and souvenirs. The staff is so courteous and amenable, and every purchase is impeccably wrapped with nice paper. I believe the name of this shop is Sanbido, but since few of the shops boast signage, you’ll have to do with my directions and the attached business card. It is on the left side if you are heading towards the temple, in the middle of the third block back. Http://homepage2.nifty.com/sanbido/
If you are popping in to buy something quickly at one of the shops on Nakamise Dori, and want to leave without browsing the rest of the shops on the way out, it is definitely worth hopping out one of the perpendicular streets & exiting out a side street towards Kaminarimon.
Whatever you purchase on Nakamise, I’m certain you will be amazed by the experience and your purchases will bring back memories for years to come. And don’t forget to stop in at Senso-ji – it is quite a site! If you have any tips or favorite shops on Nakamise Dori, please comment and let us all know!
Until next time, may your journeys bring you happiness and enlightenment!