Travel Japan: Asakusa Temple or Sensoji Temple

Sensoji (also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, the center of the shitamachi. For most of the twentieth century, Asakusa was the major entertainment place in Tokyo.

The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built there for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making Asakusa the oldest temple in Tokyo.

When approaching the temple, visitors first enter through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of the Sensoji and symbol of Asakusa. A shopping street of over 200 meters, called Nakamise, leads from the outer gate to the temple's second gate, the Hozomon. There are many shops selling toys, souvenirs, swords, dresses, foods, freshly made cookies and various other items.


Beyond the Hozomon main gate stands the temple's main building and a five storied pagoda. The Asakusa Shrine, built in the year 1649 by Tokugawa Iemitsu.

Next to the Sensō-ji temple grounds is a small carnival complex with rides, booths, and games, called Hanayashiki. The neighborhood theaters specialize in showing classic Japanese films, as many of the tourists are elderly Japanese.

Asakusa is Tokyo's oldest geisha district, and still has 45 actively working geisha. Sayuki is an Australian-born geisha in Asakusa.
Cruises in the Sumida River is very famous and it is merely a five minutes walk from Asakusa temple.

Tthere are frequent matsuri (Shinto festivals) in Asakusa, as each temple or shrine hosts at least one matsuri a year, if not every season. The largest and most popular is the Sanja Matsuri in May, when roads are closed from dawn until late in the evening. Among others there are
  • Hozuki-ichi (Hozuki Market) - July: Hozuki are ground cherries, a typical summer plant in Japan. 
  • Asakusa Samba Carnival - August
  • Tokyo Jidai Matsuri - November: a festival commemorating the history of Tokyo and the Edo culture.
  • Hagoita-ichi (Hagoita Market) - December: Hagoita is the wooden paddle used in Hanetsuki, a traditional game that resembles badminton. 
How to get to Asakusa temple:
Sensoji or Asakusa Temple is a few steps from Asakusa Station, served by the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line and Tobu Railways.

From Tokyo Station: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station (2 minutes, 130 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 160 yen).

From Shinjuku Station: Take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station (10 minutes, 160 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 160 yen).

To move around inside the temple area there is a special type of man driven car, called ricksaw.

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