A Small Wharf Town has grown into Tokyo’s Oldest Entertainment District
With the landmark Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa attracts tourists from all over the world. It still maintains the legacy of the older entertainment district that flourished during the Edo period. As a small wharf town along the Sumida River until the 17th century, Asakusa’s history goes back to the 7th century, when Senso-ji Temple was built near the River.
A Small Wharf Town along the Sumida River
Asakusa’s importance as a historical town started in the 7th century, when the landmark Senso-ji Temple was built in the area. After, the town grew dramatically when the Tokugawa Shogunate began the Edo period in the 17th century. Asakusa became one of the two important wharf towns in Tokyo, together with the wharf town of Shinagawa.
Rice Granaries Boosted Asakusa’s Attractions
Located near Kuramae, a town accommodating a number of rice granaries south of Asakusa along the Sumida River, Asakusa attracted Samurai and merchants since the Samurai received rice as their salary during the Edo era. Following the popularity of Asakusa, entertainment businesses sprung up around the area, remaining even after the commercial activities of the area moved to other parts of Tokyo in later years.
Becoming the Biggest Entertainment District
For most of the 20th century, Asakusa was the largest entertainment district in Tokyo. The golden years of Asakusa are vividly portrayed in “The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa”, a novel published in 1930 by Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata.
Preserving the Legacy of Edo Culture
The area was heavily damaged by bombing raids during World War II, subsequently rebuilt after the war, and maintaining a legacy of the oldest entertainment district in Tokyo. It has now been replaced in its role as a pleasure district by Shinjuku and other colorful districts of the city, since the 1960’s, when television programs started surpassing theater performances among the public.