.: 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 :.
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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