Senso-ji (浅草寺)

In today’s post I’d like to tell you about Senso-ji.  Senso-ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo.  It was formerly part of a sect of Buddhism called Tendai.   Over 30 million people visit Senso-ji every year.

History

Senso-ji pays homage to the Goddess of Mercy called Kannon. or (Guanyin).  According to legend, in 628 two brothers who happened to be fishermen stumbled upon a Kannon statue in the Sumida River. The two brothers brought the statue of Kannon back and showed it to the head of  their villiage. He realized that this was a holy statue and enshrined it after turning his house into a small temple.  The local residents of Asakusa could now worship Kannon.  In 645 AD the  original temple was built but  was destroyed in an attack in World War II.  It was later rebuilt.

 

Temple Area

The Sanja Matsuri. which is Tokyo’s most famous and largest, is held on the streets nearby. This is held during a couple of days towards the end of spring.  At the entrance you will find Kaminarimon.  This means “Thunder Gate” in Japanese.  From the top of the gate you will find a humongous paper lantern with the Chinese characters of (雷 or Thunder) written on it.  Past this gate you will find Nakamise Street.  This street is lined with many small souvenir stores catering to tourists.  After you reach the end of the street you will come to the “Treasure House Gate” or  Hōzōmon.  To the right there is a pagoda which is five-stories tall.

Tons of tourists from both Japan and abroad flock to Senso-ji each year.  There are many local restaurants in the area offering traditional Japanese dishes.  In the surrounding streets you will also find many Rickshaws waiting to take customers for a tour of the area.

I personally visited Senso-ji this past week.  The last time I visited there was a long time ago, fifteen years if I recall correctly.  There were both Japanese and foreign tourists; however, I would say that the majority of the tourists were foreigners.

Access

If you are staying in central Tokyo, probably the best way to get to Senso-ji is to take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line  to Asakusa. The line runs from Shibuya to Asakusa which is the terminal station, or the starting station if you are going the other way.  Some of the main stations on the Ginza Line are as follows: Shibuya, Omotesando, Akasaka-Mitsuke, Tameike-Sanno, Shinbashi, Ginza, Kanda, Ueno and Asakusa.  From Asakusa subway station Senso-ji is about a five minute walk away.  There are maps above ground on the street that show how to get to Senso-ji. There is also a tourist information center nearby where you can get directions in English.

In addition to Senso-ji, there are also a few other interesting sightseeing spots in the area that are within walking distance.  They are Tokyo Skytree the Asahi Beer brewery and the Sumida River.  I will be writing about these very interesting  places in an upcoming future post.

For more photos of Senso-ji click here

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