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Sensō-ji : Large temple in the Asakusa district

Sensoji (浅草寺, Sensōji, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples.

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History

According to legend, two brothers kept trying to return a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, to the Sumida River only to have it returned to them the next day. This temple located in Tokyo’s Asakusa district was built to honor her.

The temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokiteśvara). According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in 628 by two fishermen, the brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari. The chief of their village, Hajino Nakamoto, recognized the sanctity of the statue and enshrined it by remodeling his own house into a small temple in Asakusa so that the villagers could worship Kannon.

Temple grounds

Sensō-ji is always busy, particularly on weekends; consider visiting in the evening to see it with fewer people and the buildings beautifully illuminated.

Sensō-ji is always busy, particularly on weekends; consider visiting in the evening to see it with fewer people and the buildings beautifully illuminated.

The main entrance to the temple complex is via the fantastic, red Kaminari-mon and busy shopping street Nakamise-dōri. Before passing through the gate, look to either side to see statues of Fūjin (the god of wind) and Raijin (the god of thunder), and under the giant red lantern to see a beautiful carved dragon.

Stalls along Nakamise-dōri sell everything from tourist trinkets to genuine Edo-style crafts. At the end of Nakamise-dōri is the temple itself, and to your left you’ll spot the 55m-high Five-Storey Pagoda. The 1973 reconstruction of a pagoda built by Tokugawa Iemitsu was renovated in 2017.

It’s a mystery as to whether or not the ancient image of Kannon actually exists, as it’s not on public display. This doesn’t stop a steady stream of worshippers from visiting. In front of the temple is a large incense cauldron: the smoke is said to bestow health and you’ll see people wafting it onto their bodies.

Access

Sensoji 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, 140 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 170 yen).

From Shinjuku Station

Take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station (10 minutes, 170 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 170 yen).


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