If one is looking for old Tokyo, one must visit Asakusa given that it is seen to be the centre of Tokyo’s shitamachi (low city) districts. Whilst this post focuses on showing examples of old Tokyo, I should say that my visits to Asakusa were not strictly for this reason and I will post photographs offering other glimpses of Asakusa at a later time.
If I had to select one image that says “old Tokyo” from this and previous posts in this series, I would select the delightful old house shown at pic 1. Coming across this old place was as if one had stepped back in time and one hopes that buildings such as this will survive for many years to come, thus giving us a glimpse and a sense of what old Tokyo was like. However, when one considers that the house is within a fifteen to twenty minutes walk of Tokyo Skytree, perhaps all we can do is hope.
One may imagine that in times past the residents of the house would have patronised nearby shops such as those featured in pics 2 to 6, whose quintessential charm continues to be relevant today. Each of these stores has a story to tell that is, in turn, woven into Asakusa’s story.
Other examples of old Tokyo can be found (pics 7 to 12) by walking the streets, where the old and new exist side by side such as in pics 11 and 12. For the most part I found the blending of old and new to be quite aesthetically pleasing, perhaps due (as in pic 12) to the design similarities carried over into the new buildings.
Memories too are created among the old buildings as in pic 8, where a teacher can be seen setting up his camera before rushing back to join his students for a photographic memory of their trip to Asakusa. Who knows what will become of these buildings, especially when the average life of buildings in Japan is said to be in the order of twenty years. Nevertheless, whatever they become, these students have a memory of how it once appeared.
It would be remiss not to include a photograph of Senso-ji (pic 13), Asakusa’s major attraction and Tokyo’s oldest temple, which dates back to the seventh century and will be the subject of a future post.
(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)