Updated on March 19, 2019
Tokyo is one of the most modern cities in the world. During the Second World War it was heavily bombed, and many of its temples were destroyed. The Senso-ji in Asakusa and the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya were so important that they were entirely rebuilt almost immediately after the war. Each one is visited by about 30 million people a year.
Founded in 645, Sensoji is the oldest and my favorite temple in Tokyo. Legend says that in 628 two fishermen found a statue of the goddess Kannon in the river. They let the current take her away, but it appeared again, and so several more times, which was interpreted as a divine sign and the construction of the temple began in a nearby location. It is the heart of Asakusa, the neighborhood where most tourists stay, so almost every day, for one reason or another, you’ll be just passing by and somehow it becomes familiar. Its main festival is on the third weekend in May, the Sanja Matsuri.
Free admission, you can wander around the grounds at any time, only the main Hall is closed from 18:00 to 5:00. The main entrance is the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), a large gate that features a large red paper lantern, followed by Nakamise, a 200 meters row of shops that have been preserved for centuries, in which pilgrims bought before entering the temple. Almost all are food and souvenirs shops; prices are quite acceptable.
Nakamise ends in exceptional Hozomon (Gate of Treasure House).
After the Hozomon, there is a large incense cauldron. The smoke that emerges is said to have healing properties, so people extend and rub it through their heads and clothing.
The following is the Main Hall of the temple. It is not known if the original statue of the goddess Kannon actually ever existed, even less if kept.
West of the pagoda and the main hall, the tour continues to an area with smaller but extraordinarily beautiful buildings.
The most striking building unfortunately is not open to the public at the present time, the Demboin, residence of the priests of the temple, which has a garden with spectacular views of the pagoda.
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