Tokyo: Senso-ji Temple

Senso-ji temple is one of the great cultural and religious icons of Japan. It is one of the oldest and most popular temples in Tokyo, dating back to 628 A.D. At that time, according to popular lore, two brothers were fishing in the nearby Sumida river and caught the catch of their lives – a small gold statue of Bodhisattva Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and happiness, who has the empower to release humans from all suffering.

Senso-ji temple was erected in her honor and the statue is still housed here, however it’s never shown to the public. Over the centuries, worshippers, pilgrims and tourists have flocked here seeking favors of Kannon.

Senso-ji is an extremely large complex with several gates, the temples and halls, a pagoda, the shopping street and a the Asakusa shrine.

The Hozomon gate is an imposing Buddhist structure featuring a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red-and-black tones with two black and gold lanterns to either side.

The main hall at Senso-ji is very huge, with a very distinctly shaped roof.

Before entering the hall there is also a large pot just before the steps in which incense is continuously burnt. People try to grab some of the smoke to spiritually cleanse or heal themselves.

On the right side is a fountain topped by a dragon, people clean their hands and their mouth with the water from the fountain, before entering the temple.

There were lots of people visiting the temple, it is really a popular place. We tried to take pictures without people walking through them, but it was almost impossible.

Inside the temple you can buy “omikuji” which are strips of paper with fortunes written on them.

If you get one with any kind of bad luck written on it, tie it to one of the “trees” (racks set up for the purpose of accepting bad luck omikuji).

Useful info:

  • The temple is at 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku. You can get to Sensoji by the Ginza and Toei Asakusa City Subway Lines and Tobu Isesaki Line. The Ginza is probably the best, as its exit will place you within 100 meters of the temple and the way is very clearly marked
  • The main hall is open from 6:30 to 17:00 and there is no entrance fee

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