Seeking an older Tokyo, beyond the glassy skyscrapers and neon karaoke bars? Taito’s your place. It’s here you’ll find the grand Asakusa temple, Senso-ji, with its swollen red lantern; the bustling seafood shops and beauty boutiques of Ameya-Yokocho market; and the graceful museums of Ueno Park. This ward has a throwback vibe rarely found in Japan’s ever-changing capital. Here are the must-see sights in Taito, Tokyo.
If there’s a selfie that screams Taito, it’s this one, taken in front of the opulent Kaminarimon Gate. Painted red and jade, the entrance to the Senso-ji Buddhist temple frames a 700kg (1,540lb) red lantern, painted with striking Japanese kanji symbols, and festooned with a wooden dragon carving. The gate has had various incarnations, the first more than 1,000 years ago. Look out for the Shinto and Buddhist god statues as you pass by, along an avenue of gift stalls to the temple itself.
Almost too adorable to eat, taiyaki are traditional Japanese street food cakes shaped like a red seabream (a “tai”). Typically they’re sold by street vendors around historic districts such as Asakusa. They’re stuffed with a sweet filling – usually red bean paste, but sometimes custard or chocolate – and the crisp exterior is best scoffed while still warm. Taiyaki Sharaku is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shop doing them fresh, all day – eat yours on benches outside the shop window.
Ellie Hurley has contributed additional reporting to this article.