You could be forgiven, on first arriving at Asakusa on the Ginza subway line, that you’ve descended into Japanese tourist-trap hell. And to some extent you’d be right; it certainly seems to be the most touristy place I visited in Tokyo at least – as soon as you pass under the impressive Kaminari-mon (“Thunder Gate”) you’re greeted by a line of literally dozens of stalls selling everything from woodblock prints to Gundam model kits. Further down though, towards the Senso-ji temple, they give way to more traditional craft stalls, with giving you a unique chance to see artists in action. The Temple at Dembo-in, where Japan’s two leading religions Buddism and Shinto meet, and it’s surrounding gardens and pogodas are breathtaking, and a welcome break from the initial chaos.
One thing you must do if you ever make it to Asakusa is make sure you’re at the crossing near the Tourist Information Centre on the hour, as the clock there bursts into an amazing, and typically Japanese, animatronic display every time the minute hand hits 12.
Also, just opposite here on the corner, is a tiny shop that just sells yet more Ghibli stuff. Worth a quick peek round, despite the prices and the moody mama-san that runs it.