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Now decidedly relaxed, Asakusa was once the heart of Edo’s low city, home to artisans, merchants and prostitutes. Its small lanes and winding alleyways are still full of surprises, including the vintage curios at Tokyo Hotarudo and the beautiful noren (shopfront curtains) for sale at Bengara. For straight gift shopping, Nakamise-dōri (leading up to temple Sensō-ji) is not bad for souvenir trinkets – try the back streets for better-quality stuff. The long stretch of Kappabashi-dōri also yields uniquely Japanese curiosities in its little culinary-supply shops.

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