Nakamise-dori is one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan; it is the 250 meters in between the Kaminarimon `Thunder` gate and the Hozomon `Treasure House` gate in front of Sensoji-Temple. Nakamise-dori caters to the crowds of tourists that visit Asakusa’s Sensoji-Temple every day by selling traditional Japanese sweets, souvenirs, and traditional Japanese yukata and fans.
With all the options available, it is easy to get lost in the nearly 90 shops that compose Nakamise-dori.
You don't need to go to a Japanese restaurant in Asakusa, instead munch on some of the tourists and local favorites along Nakamise-dori:
1. Age-Manju (あげまんじゅう).
Age-Mangu is famous in Asakusa, it is sold on the right side of the street near the Sensoji-Temple. The name age-manju is derived from the Japanese words `age` (friend) and `manju` (the name of a Japanese batter stuffed with sweet red bean past). Rather than just selling the traditional age-manju with a sweet red bean paste filling, shops along the Nakamise-dori sell age-manju with all kinds of unique flavor fillings, such as pumpkin, sesame, sweet green tea, custard, and many more.
2. Kibi-Dango (きび団子).
Kibi-dango is a variation of dango, one of the beloved Japanese sweets. Unlike regular dango, kibi-dango is made with millet flour. The kibi-dango in Asakusa are caked with millet flour; foreigners sometimes find it difficult to eat kibi-dango. Thankfully, the shop also sells sweet green tea (in the summer) and warm sake (in the winter) to help wash the kibi-dango down. Be careful, the kibi-dango along Nakamise-dori can sell out quickly.
3. Sweet, cool green tea (in the summer), warm sake (in the winter) .
Sold at the same shop as the Kibi-Dango, these drinks are unique and delicious. Starting in spring, they will sell small, plastic cups filled with a naturally sweetened, thick green tea for only 100yen. Just like kibi-dango, these regularly sell out.
5. Ningyo-Yaki (人形焼き).
Ningyo-yaki is a friend sponge (kasutera) cake filled with sweet, red bean paste. Ningyo-yaki can come in any number of shapes and is sold throughout Japan. Asakusa is famous for selling delicious and fresh ningyo-yaki in the shapes of famous Asakusa locations. At Nakamise-dori, you can watch shops make and sell fresh ningyo-yaki
5. Senbei rice crackers (せんべい).
Senbei is a popular Japanese snack that is eaten year-round. Senbei is sold in nearly every grocery store; there are various sizes, flavors, added ingredients, hardness/thickness of the senbei. Nakamise-dori has an assortment of senbei. Some shops will sell the senbei individually, some shops make you buy an entire pack, and some will even roast the senbei in front of you. Senbei makes a great souvenir for your Japanese friends.
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