Souvenir Shopping At Senso-ji, Tokyo

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Japan is a favourite destinations for many Australians to visit for a variety of reasons, and if you’re planning to travel there soon, there’s a place in Tokyo which combines sightseeing with some great souvenir shopping. The beautiful old Buddhist temple of Senso-ji in Asakusa is something to tick off your list of Tokyo’s top sightseeing sites, as well as the city’s oldest Temple, drawing millions of tourists each year. Besides being a fascinating place to soak up some Japanese culture, however, there’s another good reason for heading there – souvenir shopping at great prices. Like many Japanese temples, Senso-ji has a market on the same site which evolved over time. Nakamise-dori Street is a lively and colourful market set within the temple precinct, stretching over 200 metres from the temple’s Furai jin-mon outer gate to its second gate, Hozomon. Japanese markets are always a hive of activity as well as great places to snap up souvenirs and sometimes grab a snack on the go.

Nakamise-dori is one, with more than 80 stalls selling all manner of alluring goodies which make great souvenirs. Popular buys for foreign tourists include cute keepsakes such as geisha and cat key rings, Japanese dolls, and traditional fans costing only a few hundred yen apiece. For the same price, and for a fraction of what you might pay at a department store, you can also often find attractive cosmetic bags and wallets made from brightly coloured and good quality Japanese fabric, sometimes even silk, along with the latest small gadgets and electronics. And if you get peckish, typical of a Japanese market there are plenty of stalls selling Japanese-style fast foods allowing you to eat while you shop, such as delicious savoury rice crackers called sembei. Admission to the Senso-ji temple is free, and as Asakusa is also famous for tempura, a hot tip is to save time to visit Tokyo’s largest tempura restaurant, Aoi-Marushin, which is just a few minutes walk from the temple. It has six floors of table and tatami seating, and is very much a local family restaurant with plenty of reasonably priced food.

Ben Hall