This week’s Monday Morning Trip is to Asakusa and Senso-ji!
Asakusa (浅草) is an area in Tokyo, Japan, where much of the old-Tokyo can still be seen. Asakusa can be found in every guide book about Japan, as it is the home to Senso-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo.
The Asakusa area was heavily damaged during World War II, but was rebuilt after the war. Long ago, it was a very popular entertainment district, but now many other areas of Tokyo are more popular, such as Shinjuku, Kabukicho, and others.
Here is a short virtual tour of Senso-ji:
Notable Sightseeing Attractions
The Kaminarimon (雷門 “Thunder Gate”) is the outer gate that leads to Senso-ji. The gate houses a giant lantern, which stands 4 meters tall and 3.4 meters in circumference.
The Kaminarimon was first built in 941 and was located near Komagata. It was later reconstructed in its current location in 1635. Along with the giant lantern, the gate also has two statutes, Raijin (“god of thunder”) and Fūjin (“god of wind”).
Sensō-ji (金龍山浅草寺 Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji) is an ancient Buddhist temple, and Tokyo’s oldest temple—with the first temple founded in 645CE.
The temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. Legend holds that 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.
The temple was destroyed in World War II, but was rebuilt as a symbol of rebirth and peace to the Japanese people.
The Hozōmon (宝蔵門 “Treasure-House Gate”) is the inner gate that leads to Senso-ji, and was first built in 942 AD. Inside the Hozomon, many of Senso-ji’s treasures are preserved. The gate stands 74 feet tall, 69 feet wide and 26 feet deep.
- Five-storied Pagoda
The five-storied pagoda was built in 942, and houses mortuary tablets and relics of the Buddha.
- Asakusa Shrine
Asakusa Shrine (浅草神社 Asakusa-jinja), also known as Sanja-sama (“Shrine of the Three gods”), is one of the most famous Shinto shrines in Tokyo.
The shrine was constructed in 1649 to honor the three men who founded Senso-ji, and is one of the few structures that actually survived World War II. In 1951, it was designated an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese Government.
The Nakamise-dōri (仲見世通り) is a very popular street that is lined with almost 100 shops, and leads directly to Senso-ji. You will find many different items for sale here, including clothing, souvenirs, and of course a lot of delicious food!
Asakusa, and mor specifically Senso-ji, is the location of the most popular festival in Tokyo, Sanja Matsuri (“Three Shrine Festival”). It is a 3-4 day event that occurs on the third-weekend of every May.
Hours and Access
Location: You can access Senso-ji via the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, the Tobu Skytree line, the Tsukuba Express Line, and the Toei Asakusa line.
Kaminarimon: Always Open
Senso-ji: 6:00 to 17:00
Asakusa Shrine: Always open