Revitalization and Reinvention of Asakusa, an outsider’s perspective.
A cultural hub during the Edo to Showa periods, Asakusa was once the center of the Tokyo entertainment culture and people hailing from all over Japan came to buy the finest crafts, visit the Yoshiwara red-light district, or pray to the gods of the iconic Sensoji Temple. The most skilled craftsmen in Japan gathered to create their wares within this cultural and artistic holy land. From internationally acclaimed ukiyoe artist Hokusai to legendary comedian turned film director “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, some of Japan’s most famous artists have found their inspiration in these streets.
However, Asakusa has also had its fair share of reincarnations. Originally a low-class residential neighborhood, Asakusa was especially susceptible to the fires that raged through Tokyo following the great Kanto earthquake in 1923 as well as the subsequent WWII firebombing. After the various blazes were extinguished and the center of activity in Tokyo shifted to the west side of town, Asakusa became an area for the older generation and the working artisan class. While Sensoji Temple and its nearby shopping arcade remained a popular destination for both Japanese and international tourists alike, most don't take the time to explore the deeper parts of the neighborhood that house local eateries and unique artisanal workshops. Despite this, Asakusa has and, we believe, always will rise again from the ashes.
Asakusa can only truly be experienced once you have ventured past the bright red temples and waves of incense. Once you have gone away from the rickshaw drivers calling out to the waves of tourists. Once you have walked into the backstreets of stores with their small signs and quiet, but powerful, resilience.
Hidden in deep corners of Asakusa are pockets of artists, creators, and entrepreneurs who are fighting to keep the tradition and legacy of Asakusa, it's art, and it's craftsmanship alive. In doing so, they are also working to preserve the spirit that has fostered Tokyo’s culture and art for generations. From handmade crafts to small hidden coffee shops, these stores are reinventing and keeping the traditions of Asakusa alive. Each in their own way, but each with a common purpose: to preserve, revive, and reinvent the image of Asakusa for both Japanese and non-Japanese alike. We, as representatives of this group, hope to show you a little bit of Asakusa for you to include in your experience of Tokyo.