Wearing a Kimono in Asakusa

Marisa Lewis
December 2, 2013

A view of the Senso-ji temple in the rain.

Last week, I went with a friend to Asakusa — a district in Tokyo famous for its temples and traditional goods. It is probably the most famous for the hosting the Buddhist Senso-ji temple, which is Tokyo’s oldest temple!  I had been there before previously on an IES-led tour of Tokyo, and I even watched a sumo match there! It really is a part of Tokyo that focuses heavily on Japanese tradition — the architecture, religion, and street food is all exclusively Japanese and has a history!

This is a Senso-ji lantern.

This time, though, I decided to indulge in another Japanese tradition: wearing a kimono! There are many businesses in Asakusa that allow you to wear a kimono and have your picture taken professionally in the temple  area for a price. Due to some connections, I was able to do this activity for a newer business that needed customer reviews… for free! You can imagine how happy I was.

This is me in my kimono!

The kimono I chose was one with sakura blossoms on it, and it was very beautiful! The friend who I set out with is Japanese, and she told me that this kimono photo shoot was something that many Japanese girls do. She was right — once we set out to take pictures, we spotted a few other girls getting their pictures taken in kimonos, all of whom were Japanese. I felt like I was taking part in tradition. Though we were mostly getting pictures taken, we also took some time to wash our hands with temple water, get our fortunes, and “taste the smoke” of the temple (which means wafting incense fumes towards your face).

The view from our rickshaw.

We also chose to ride a rickshaw through the streets of Asakusa. Though I had seen the temple and the main shopping destinations before, I hadn’t really seen other smaller areas. The rickshaw was able to take us towards areas full of quaint restaurants, small shops, and pretty alleys. It was a really great view!

Swords are another popular selling point in Asakusa.

After riding the rickshaw, we took some time to go eat lunch back near the main shopping area. There is an entire street full of street food and traditional merchandise such as fans and kimonos. We ate ice cream and fried chicken, and were asked by many tourists to take pictures with them! I felt like I sort of understood the meaning of paparazzi — I couldn’t even eat my lunch in peace! I didn’t mind too much, though. It was nice to feel like a celebrity for a day!

My friend and I took some time to pay our respects.

Overall, I had a great time and would recommend anyone visiting Japan to try on some traditional clothing, whether it be a men’s yukata or a kimono! Not only is it fun to do, it also gives you a feeling of having a unique cultural experience. I’m looking forward to more fun adventures while I’m here!


Marisa Lewis

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Marisa Lewis, and I am an East Asian International Relations Major/East Asian Studies Minor at the University of Virginia. I&rsquo;m originally from Alexandria, Virginia (though I&rsquo;ve got a lot of family in Thailand as well) and am super excited to be traveling to Japan! I&rsquo;ve only ever been to the Japanese airport before &ndash; their toilets are awesome, by the way &ndash; and have always wanted to experience Japanese culture ever since I first started watching Pokémon as a kid. Don&rsquo;t lie. You watched it, too! In my spare time I love to read, write short stories, bake, listen to music, and have adventures. I am looking forward to making new friends, stocking up on Japanese sweets, and experiencing all that Japan has to offer! But more importantly, stocking up on Japanese sweets. Where my mochi at?</span></p>

2013 Fall
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University of Virginia
International Relations
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