Sensoji (Kinryū-zan Sensōji; also known as Asakusa Temple) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, a central part of downtown (old town) Tokyo.
History of Sensoji
Sensoji is Tokyo's oldest temple foundation, dating back to 628 AD. 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 was built to honor her.
Formerly associated with the Tendai sect, Senso-ji became independent after World War II, when it burned down after a bombing raid. The reconstruction of the temple was funded by donations from the public.
What to See at Sensoji
Dominating the entrance to the temple is the kaminari-mon or "Thunder Gate." This imposing Buddhist structure features a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red-and-black tones to suggest thunderclouds and lightning. Within the precincts stand a stately five-story pagoda and the main hall, devoted to Kannon Bosatsu.
Within the temple is a quiet contemplative garden kept in the distinctive Japanese style. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, the Asakusa Jinja.
Many tourists, both Japanese and foreign, visit Sensōji every year. Catering to the visiting crowds, the surrounding area has many traditional shops and eating places that feature traditional dishes. Nakamise-dori, the street leading from the Thunder Gate to the temple itself, is lined with small shops selling omiyage (souvenirs) ranging from fans, ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), kimono and other robes, Buddhist scrolls, traditional sweets, to Godzilla toys, t-shirts, and cell-phone trinkets. These shops themselves are part of a living tradition of selling to pilgrims who walked to Sensōji.
Festivals and Events
Sensōji is the focus of Tokyo's largest and most popular matsuri (Shinto festival). The festival takes place over 3–4 days in late spring, and sees the surrounding streets closed to traffic from dawn until late evening.
Quick Facts on Sensoji
|Names:||Asakusa Kannon · Sensoji|
|Dates:||628; rebuilt 1950s|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||35.714750° N, 139.796761° E|
|Hours:||Daily 6am-5pm (4:30pm in winter)|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Sensoji|
Map of Sensoji, Tokyo
Below is a location map and aerial view of Sensoji. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.