Today I had a day trip to Tokyo on business. Usually I go to Ginza or Shibuya for my business partner meetings but today's meeting was in Asakusa.
(*photos used here are taken in Summer of 2012)
Asakusa is still remaining old and trraditional face of Japan and Tokyo. They who were born in Asakusa often say that " I'm edokko !". This means they are proud of themselves having been raised in this area. Edokko is an old Tokyo word, still being used sometimes nowadays, and it means kid of Tokyo. Edo is a word of old era of Japan, and Edo means Tokyo in that era. So they called that era " edo jidai, or edo era ". Edo jidai started about 400 years ago by Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and it continued until the modernization of Japan started in Meiji era ( about 150 years ago ).
Asakusa is a good reflection of that Edo time and Meiji time of Japan. Although nearly everything is newly built after the war, some old parts of this town like Sensouji ( photo) are still existing here. But the most important part of old remainings is the spirit of the people living here. Actually I, Japanese, too feel a little different when we visit Asakusa from my nature. Asakusa people are active, cool in talking, and behave like anything-goes nature persons. They don't care triffle things, and they love people's communication. My hometown also loves personal friendship but not that active like Asakusa people.
For my interest, I tried to walk through the old path of old drinking bars (Izakaya). All the small Izakayas are street bar style when it's warm, and it's really fun to stay there being drunken under the Sun or Moon. Food menue and drinks are all really cheap. Aagin the people of the Izakayas are really active and fun, also the custommers here also drink much, eat much ( even if the strange foods are offered), and talk much too.
To be honest, I firstly hesitated to check the Izakayas there because all seemed a little strange and scary for me. But once we sit down and start drinking, the world around us changes soon. It's just the Asakusa street bar world !
I think most of the foreign people would not like the Asakusa street Izakaya because they might look a little dirty and out of fashion. It's true that we Japanese feel the same there, but it's also trie that we can feel ASAKUSA SPIRIT there.
The Izakaya street doesn't represent all the Asakusa at all, but enjoying the atomospher of local people is certainloy one aspect of Asakusa experience for me.
But agai, I don't recommend this experience to all the visitors here. Actually it's not today's bar stayle at all.
Asakusa has some really good traditional Japanese cake shops ( Wagashi shops). Especially, Umezono and Funawa are my favorites. Umezono
specializes Zenzai, which is a cup sweet with Anko paste and Mochi. Funawa
is especially famous for its Imoyoukan, which is a potato youkan cake. Both have long history and so many fans in Japan.