Mostly every guide book for travelling in Japan will mention, if not feature, Senso-ji in Asakusa, Tokyo. Most recognisable of all is the kaminarimon gate which welcomes visitors to the Senso-ji temple complex.
Kaminarimon literally means thunder gate and houses the two Gods who greet you as you enter; Fujin and Raijin, the God of wind and the God of thunder. They are imposing, but their fierce faces have looked out onto Asakusa since the late 1800’s and have greeted millions through their gate. Once passed through, beheath the giant lantern, Nakamise-dori greets you, stretching out towards the temple proper.
Nakamise-dori is known as one of the best spots in all of Tokyo for souvineer shopping, as the 200 meter walk takes you past dozens of tiny shops selling everything from freshly cooked senbei (rice crackers) to kimono. If you can make your way through the crowds the pass through the Hozomon and enter the main square of Senso-ji.
Here you can pick up good luck charms and get your fortune told! One of the most beautiful parts of visiting Senso-ji is the elaborately painted main hall ceiling. No pictures are allowed, so you’ll have to visit to see it for yourself! Don’t forget to make your wish and send your regards to the Gods while you are here.
Senso-ji is much more than just the Kaminarimon and the mail hall. There is a shinto shrine right next to Senso-ji (turn left after exiting the main hall) and many smaller buildings dotted around the grounds and it is worth exploring!
One thing you won’t miss is the giant 53 meter high five storied pagoda which over looks the whole complex. Most people cannot ever enter the pagoda, which houses over 100 statues and 10,000 votive tablets!
The whole area is truly stunning when lit up at night, so it is worth going back to visit at both times. The top times to visit during the year are during the Sanji Matsuri held in May each year, or for the less traditional Samba Carnival in August.
Access: Senso-ji is a few moments walk away from Asakusa station on the Ginza and Asakusa line and the Tobu Railway.
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