We went early in the morning about 8:30am and Sensoji temple is located in a park complex in the Ueno section of Tokyo. This is Tokyo’s oldest temple and is a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. This temple complex consists of a main hall, a 5 storey pagoda and a shrine.
The main building is impressive with the giant red lantern at the entrance and beautiful artwork on the ceilings. Before you can see the Main Hall of Sensoji Temple, you will pass the Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder gate). The gate is guarded by two Gods, the Fujin (God of Wind) and Raijin (God of Thunder).
Sensoji (浅草寺, Sensōji, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple. Founded in 628, this lovely Buddhist temple offers a glimpse into history and has some interesting architectural attractions.
The legend says that in the year 628 AD, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple.
The Main Hall is always full of worshipers and visitors of different nationalities. The Main Hall was restored in 1958 because the original temple was destroyed during WWII. Don’t forget to look up at the painting on the ceiling. You can also try to take the photos inside the main hall without flash, but it is challenging due to the multitude of tourists.
This is a beautiful five story, crimson-colored pagoda and other related buildings next to the temple. The Pagoda is approximately 53 meters high and is especially picturesque at night when all lit up. The original was built in 942 with the current structure is a 1973 reconstruction. It is a national treasure and the second highest pagoda in Japan.
A large incense burner is placed in front of the main hall of Sensoji Temple. The smoke is said to have a healing effect, so most of the visitors make sure to inspire the sacred smoke before visiting the temple itself.
The place to wash your hands before praying. At first, you wash your left hand with the scoop and right hand and then, rinse your mouth. It finish, washing handle of it with the same water.
Make sure you have a spare 100 Yen to get your fortune told, look out for the wooden boxes either side of the main hall, shake one of the canisters until a stick falls out, note the number on the stick and go to a draw with that matching number and read your fortune (they are in English too) and then tie the paper on the nearby racks.
Nakamise-dori (Nakamise Shopping Street)
After passing the gate, you will immediately find Nakamise-dori (Nakamise Shopping Street), a 180 m (590 ft) shopping street where you can find almost all of the Japanese souvenirs you would want. Of course, a variety of snacks is everywhere. Head down the street, and you will reach the 2nd gate – Hozomon (宝蔵門). On the left, you can easily spot the beautiful five-story pagoda (五重塔) and finally, the Main Hall of the Sensoji Temple.
The pathway to the temple (Nakamise Street) is lined with vendors selling snacks and trinkets at decent prices. If you need souvenirs, this is a pretty good and cheap option.
Try freshly made rice crackers. There are sold in various different flavors, toppings, sizes and even thickness or hardness.
Typical Japanese souvenirs such as yukata, t-shirts, mugs and folding fans are sold here, along with various traditional local snacks from the Asakusa area.
Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Sensoji Temple is either dawn or dusk, to beat the crowds and see the temple at the best light. Each May the Sanja Matsuri is held at the nearby Asakusa Shrine to honour the two brothers who found the Kannon. The three day festival is arguably Tokyo’s best.
Tip: The main hall and its gates are illuminated every day from sunset until 11pm. The temple lights are amazing at sunset, and make for some great pictures.
Sensoji Temple is a few steps from Asakusa Station, served by the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line and Tobu Railways.
From Tokyo Station
Take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station (2 minutes, 140 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 170 yen).
From Shinjuku Station
Take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station (10 minutes, 170 yen) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 minutes, 170 yen).
The Main Hall is open from
6:00 am to 5:00 pm (April – September)
6:30 am to 5:00 pm (October – March)
The Temple Grounds are always open
Entry Fee : Admission to the Temple is free