Friday, February 03, 2012

Tokyo : Sensoji Temple and Asakusa

Sensoji temple is one of the most visited spots in Tokyo. Located in Asakusa, Sensoji is visited by almost 30 million visitors each year.
Senso-ji, or as the name goes “Asakusa Kannon no Sensoji” is a Buddhist temple which was built in the 7th century. Two fishermen brothers found a statue of Kannon, the female goddess of mercy on one of their fishing trips in the Sumida river. The temple was completed in 645 making it Tokyo’s oldest temple. The area suffered considerable damage during the World War air raids and the current buildings are post World War reconstructions.

The entrance to the shrine is through the “Kaminarimon gate”. This gate along with the inner “Hozomon gate” and their large lanterns, are favourite spots among tourists for getting photographed, making Sensoji the symbol of Tokyo.
A little ahead is the Main Hall, “Kannondo Hall” which houses the statues of Kannon along with the protector deities Bonten and Taishakuten.
It is said that a golden statue of Kannon is enshrined in the Main hall. It is kept hidden from public view since the 7th century, following a revelation in a dream to Buddhist priest Shokai Shonnin during his visit to the temple.

Also on the grounds of the temple are several other structures and shrines. 

Some of them being the five storied Pagoda, which houses relics of the Buddha on its topmost floor.

Best time to visit the shrine is early in the morning when the tourist buses are yet to arrive. The Sensoji Temple is illuminated every evening from around sunset to 11 pm.         

The shrine is especially crowded during its events and ranks among one of the most visited shrines on New Year’s Day.

Address: Asakusa, Taito Ku, 2-3-1, Asakusa Kannon no Senso-ji
Opening Hours: Temple grounds : 24 hours
                           Main Hall: 6:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Admission: Free
Access: Nearest station Asakusa Station on Tokyo Metro Ginza line, Toei Subway Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express Line and Tobu Ikesaki Line.

Approach to the Senso-ji temple is through a street called “Nakamise dori” which stretches from the outer gate to the temple’s second gate. 
The street is lined with shops selling souvenirs, handicrafts, Japanese clothes, snacks and trinkets and is an ideal place for most tourists to pick up souvenirs of their visit to Tokyo. 

The stores have some colourful paintings on their shutters, but you should visit the area really early in the day to see them. 

Asakusa is one of the few places in Japan, where the man powered vehicles “Jin rikisha” still operate. These are popular with tourists looking for a joyride while exploring the area. The Jinrikisha puller also serves as the tour guide. A 30 minute ride costs between 7000-10000 yen for 2 passengers.
Sightseeing and pleasure Cruises are available in the nearby Sumida river. The Tokyo water bus also connects historical Asakusa to the relatively newly developed Odaiba area.
Sumida park which is located on both banks of the Sumida river is a popular Cherry blossom viewing spot. It is also the site of the Sumida River Fireworks in late July.

Asakusa used to serve as Tokyo, rather Edo’s entertainment district, complete with kabuki theatres and a red light district. Having suffered considerable damage during the World War, the area’s entertainment district lost its popularity. The nearby Hanayashiki Amusement Park, once used to be a popular amusement park with its roller coasters, Ferris Wheel and carousel. It has lost its popularity to its more advanced competitors.
Asahi Beer tower with its interesting architecture and the currently under construction, Tokyo Sky tree are located close by.


  1. Visiting here again after 10 years :-) Thanks for sharing! You have a lot of good info on Japan.

    1. I love the place ! I especially loved visiting it early in the morning or in the evening, when it is not so crowded ! Have you see it when it is lit up in the evening, check out the pictures here :