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The Way The Nori Rolls

Asakusa By Night

JAPAN | Wednesday, 31 March 2010 | Views [2518]

By day it’s a bustling tourist centre of sightseeing and shopping, but when the sun goes down and the bulk of the tourists take their weary feet elsewhere, the shops on Nakamise Dori close their shutters for the night and a very different looking Asakusa comes into view. 

After dark, the shutters of the Asakusa shops are an attraction unto themselves – covered in brightly painted murals that are the work of local artists from the Tokyo National Uiversity of Fine Arts and Music, the Asakusa Emaki (Asakusa Scrolls) on the 89 shop fronts along Nakamise Dori depict traditional and seasonal events connected to Nakamise and Senso-ji temple.

For me, the real treat is in the laneways that run off the Nakamise Dori, where some of the most colourful and interesting murals can be found – many of them painted by local artist Katori Senko whose brilliant work depicts scenes from popular Kabuki plays. I ran into Katori Senko one morning while he was working on his latest mural and could have happily watched him paint for hours. His artwork is an Asakusa institution, the memory of which will be long lasting from this trip to Japan.

Between sunset and 11pm, the artwork around the Nakamise Dori is lit up for viewing, or you can check it out before the shops open around 10am.  Either way, the art around Asakusa is well worth an after-hours visit. 

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