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Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
Sensoji Temple

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Sensoji Temple - "Hozomon and pagoda, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo" by Daderot - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -,_Sensoji_Temple,_Asakusa,_Tokyo.jpg#/media/File:Hozomon_and_pagoda,_Sensoji_Temple,_Asakusa,_Tokyo.jpg

Sensoji Temple

.: About Sensoji Temple :.

Senso-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, the Asakusa Shrine.

The Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate at the Sensoji Temple - "Kaminarimon (outer gate), Sensoji Temple, Akakusa, Tokyo" by Daderot - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -,_Sensoji_Temple,_Akakusa,_Tokyo.jpg#/media/File:Kaminarimon_(outer_gate),_Sensoji_Temple,_Akakusa,_Tokyo.jpg
The Kaminarimon (or Thunder Gate) is the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Senso-ji. The gate, with its lantern and statues, is popular with tourists. It's just under 12 metres tall and 11.5 metres wide.

.: History :.

The temple is dedicated to the Kannon Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara). According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in 628 CE 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 first temple was founded in 645 CE, which makes it the oldest temple in Tokyo. In the early years of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu designated Senso-ji as tutelary temple of the Tokugawa clan. The Nishinomiya Inari shrine is located within the precincts of Senso-ji and a torii identifies the entry into the hallowed ground of the shrine. A bronze plaque on the gateway structure lists those who contributed to the construction of the torii, which was erected in 1727 (Kyoho 12, 11th month). During World War II, the temple was bombed and destroyed. It was rebuilt later and is a symbol of rebirth and peace to the Japanese people. In the courtyard, there is a tree that was hit by a bomb in the air raids, and it had regrown in the husk of the old tree and is a similar symbol to the temple itself.


.: Temple grounds :.

For centuries, pilgrims and tourists flocking to Senso-ji have shopped at the small stores surrounding the temple. Dominating the entrance to the temple is the Kaminarimon or "Thunder Gate". This imposing Buddhist structure features a huge paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red and black colours to suggest thunderclouds and lightning. Beyond the Kaminarimon is Nakamise-dori with its shops, followed by the Hozomon or "Treasure House Gate" which serves as the entrance to the inner complex. Within the precincts stands a stately five-story pagoda and the main hall, devoted to Kannon.

Many tourists, both Japanese and from abroad, visit the Sensoji Temple every year. Catering to the visiting crowds, the surrounding area has many traditional shops and eating places that feature traditional Japanese dishes (hand-made noodles, sushi, tempura, etc.). Nakamise-Dori, the street leading from the Thunder Gate to the temple itself, is lined with small shops selling souvenirs ranging from fans, ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), kimono and other robes, Buddhist scrolls, traditional Japanese sweets, to Star Wars toys, t-shirts and smartphone and iPad covers. These shops represent part of a historic and existing tradition of selling to pilgrims who made the journey to Senso-ji.

Within the temple itself, and also at many places on its approach, there are o-mikuji stalls. For a suggested donation of 100 yen, visitors may consult the oracle and divine answers to their questions. Querents shake labelled sticks from enclosed metal containers and read the corresponding answers they retrieve from one of 100 possible drawers.

Within the temple grounds is a quiet contemplative garden maintained and manicured in the distinctive Japanese style.

Senso-ji is the focus of Tokyo's largest and most popular festival, Sanja Matsuri. This takes place in late spring, and sees the surrounding streets closed to traffic. The 2023 Sanja Matsuri Festival will take place from May 19th until the 21st.

Nakamise-dori shopping street at the Sensoji Temple - "Nakamise1411". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -
Nakamise-dori shopping street. Pilgrims and tourists
flocking to Senso-ji have shopped at the
small stores here for centuries.

.: Sensoji Temple entry fee :.

Admission to the temple grounds and sites is generally free.
However, certain areas have different opening and closing times.

.: Nakamise-dori :.

Nakamise-dori is a street on the approach to the temple. The street was created in the early 18th century when neighbours of Senso-ji were granted permission to set up shops on the approach to the temple. However, in 1885, the government of Tokyo ordered all shop owners to leave. Later that same year, the area was reconstructed in Western-style brick. During the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake many of the shops were destroyed, then rebuilt in 1925 using concrete, only to be destroyed again during the bombings of World War II.

The length of the street is approximately 250 meters and contains around 89 shops.

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