Experiencing Tokyo’s Traditional Heritage in Taito City

Feb. 6th, 2023

As the home to some of Tokyo's most well-known tourist spots and historic neighborhoods, Taito City is the ideal location to take in some of the many remarkable facets of Japanese culture and explore the city’s rich cultural traditions. Sensoji Temple – the oldest temple in Tokyo – is also located in Taito City, and it’s a great place to kick back while learning about the area's fascinating history. The district’s traditional ryokan inns are ideal for indulging in sumptuous multi-course meals of expertly prepared Japanese cuisine and unwinding in the revitalizing waters of their hot spring baths.

Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Shopping Street

Sensoji Temple is perhaps the best example of Taito City's rich history. Located in Asakusa, Sensoji was founded in 645 and is the most ancient temple in Tokyo, now attracting millions of visitors all year round, with tourists and residents alike posing for selfies in traditional Japanese kimono. The majestic Sensoji temple complex with its breathtaking buildings is the perfect venue to shop for some beautiful souvenirs of your trip.

Credit: James Davies

Welcoming you to the temple are the monumental Kaminarimon gate and its 12-foot tall red lantern, flanked by two statues of the God of Thunder (Raijin) and the God of Wind (Fujin). Beyond the gate, the colorful shopping street of Nakamise-dori and its stalls selling a variety of traditional souvenirs and treats extends all the way to the Sensoji temple complex. A stroll down Nakamise-dori will take you to the Hozomon, another magnificent two-story gate marking the entrance to Sensoji’s main temple grounds. Walk under its three colossal lanterns to find yourself face-to-face with Sensoji’s main hall building and the temple’s beautiful five-story pagoda.

At nighttime, Sensoji Temple offers a breathtakingly peaceful atmosphere. The crowds thin out, and the temple buildings, as well as the brightly colored shutters of the stalls along Nakamise-dori, are wonderfully illuminated.

Discover the Fine Traditional Crafts of Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten

Asakusa is home to a plethora of one-of-a-kind shops specializing in traditional crafts. Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, a long-standing workshop and store founded in 1861, is one of them, not far from Asakusa Shrine. The company produces traditional Japanese musical instruments and festival equipment, and its mikoshi (portable shrines) are frequently featured in some of Japan's most popular festivals, such as the three-day Sanja festival at Yasakusa Shrine.

Credit: James Davies

When you pay a visit to the workshop, you’ll be able to see the care and dedication that each artisan puts into the beautiful traditional drums and ceremonial equipment. Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten has kept up with the times and is committed to sustainability, using thinned wood for the manufacturing of its fine taiko drums. The company also manages the KIPPU jewelry collection, which uses gold and silver metal fittings commonly found in mikoshi shrines. 

Fine Dining at Kiri Yanaka

If you feel like taking a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to Kiri Yanaka for lunch and get pampered with traditional Japanese hospitality (omotenashi) and the highest quality Japanese food. Situated in the lovely Yanaka neighborhood, not far from Ueno and still home to many old wooden houses, the restaurant stands in a quiet side alley right off Yanaka's shopping district, in an old Japanese-style house renovated into a restaurant space. 

Kiri Yanaka’s specialty is eel, which is sourced from different regions depending on the time of the year and served with a variety of side dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant’s classic Japanese decor and tableware and the view of the restaurant’s traditional Japanese garden will make for an unforgettable fine dining experience.

Small Space Luxury: A Cozy Stay at Ryokan Sawanoya

Ryokan Sawanoya is a perfect example of why luxury isn’t a prerogative of bigger spaces: this cozy, traditional inn is situated in Yanaka’s residential area, and its location makes it the ideal accommodation to enjoy a peaceful time while only a short stroll away from some of Tokyo’s major sightseeing spots, including Ueno Park and many art museums.

Two of the inn’s rooms are equipped with private baths, while a large communal bath is available to all guests. The staff is known for its savoir-faire and hospitality and takes the comfort of guests to heart. Ryokan Sawanoya is a popular choice among tourists and locals alike, we recommend booking your room well in advance to guarantee your stay.

Taito City offers a wealth of traditional Japanese attractions and experiences. Visitors can soak up the area's fascinating history in a variety of ways, from visiting the oldest temple in Tokyo, to participating in workshops, to enjoying fine cuisine at traditional restaurants, before ending the day in a cozy ryokan, the perfect combination of luxury and comfort. For travelers in search of rich Japanese culture, cuisine, and memorable experiences, Taito makes an ideal destination.  

Article written by  Anna Toccoli:

Glenn Harris

Glenn Harris is an accomplished journalist focusing on international travel, fine dining, and luxury lifestyle events. His wanderlust has taken him to over 105 countries where he is constantly straying off the beaten path uncovering new and exotic finds. He particularly enjoys seeking out lesser known travel gems and places to stay, dine, or experiences to capture. ...(Read More)