Sensoji, Tokyo

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.

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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

Site Information
Names:Asakusa Kannon · Sensoji
Country:Japan
Categories:temples
Dedication: Kannon
Dates:628; rebuilt 1950s
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:35.714750° N, 139.796761° E
Address:2-3-1 Asakusa
Tokyo, Japan
Phone:03/3842-0181
Hours:Daily 6am-5pm (4:30pm in winter)
Lodging:View hotels near Sensoji
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Sensō-ji - Wikipedia
  2. Sensoji - Japan Guide
  3. Sensoji Temple - Frommer's Japan

More Information

© Julie Ahn
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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.