Built in 1907, Asakusa Engei Hall is one of the oldest entertainment halls in Japan. It began as a movie theater, and after several renovations became a performance theater, where rakugo is showcased every day for young and old alike. Rakugo is a kind of stylized oral storytelling, and it’s been part of Japanese culture for many hundreds of years. The performer takes the stage alone, dressed in a traditional kimono and carrying a paper fan, and sits down in formal seiza position. Then they perform one of many hundreds of stories from memory, some funny, some serious and complex. It takes a lot of skill and training to learn how to entertain in this way, and each performer must apprentice with a rakugo master to undergo years of ascetic practice. The length can vary depending on your storytelling ability, but it can often take over a decade to become a proper rakugo performer.
There are performances every day, so it’s a perfect opportunity to experience a different type of Japanese entertainment. Noh and kabuki are well known traditional styles, but rakugo is much more closely related to everyday Japanese people. While you’re walking around Asakusa, be sure to stop in and experience rakugo for yourself!Menchi Katsu: 100,000
Japan is of course famous for such delicious food as sushi, tempura, and shabu shabu, but it’s our duty to mention that Japanese “junk food” is also super tasty! Anyone who’s ever been to Japan will probably agree that even convenience store food is incredible—quick, affordable, and absolutely DELISH! In Billion Road you can purchase Menchi Katsu, which is a kind of fried mincemeat (imagine a hamburger patty covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried). If you’re in Asakusa, you simply HAVE to try the menchi katsu. If you make your way to Denbouin Street, which is just off the main street leading from the Kaminari Gate to Sensoji Temple, you’ll find a small stall selling the tasty treat. It’s really easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled! The menchi katsu is about 3 inches across and costs just 200 yen—not a bad deal!
Menchi katsu is usually just ground beef or pork, but this spot subs out some of the meat to add big chunks of onions, letting you really FEEL the ingredients when you bite into it. The second you bite into the breaded surface, your mouth will be flooded with tasty, meaty juices! It’s also strongly seasoned so you don’t need extra sauces to enjoy it, but they’ll also offer you karashi (Japanese mustard) if you want an extra kick of flavor. Asakusa is full of tasty food vendors, but there’s just no beating this amazing street food, especially for the price. Don’t miss it!