Sensō-ji, which may sometimes be referred to as the Asakusa Kannon Temple, is the oldest and most visited temple in Tokyo! This article will hopefully provide you with an insight into what one of Japan’s most famous temples is like, how to get there, and what to do once you are there! It is a fantastic place to visit for the day or just a couple of hours whilst you are in Tokyo, and it will give you a real sense of traditional Japanese culture.
How to get there?
Despite the temple itself being too far to walk from central Tokyo, the efficient train and metro system in Tokyo makes it easily accessible from many places.
For example: On the metro travelling from Shinjuku, one may take the Yamanote Line to Ueno and then change here onto the Ginza line directly to Asakusa (only a couple of stops away from Ueno). This journey in total should take no more than 25/30 minutes. By train from Shinjuku, one may take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station, and then travel by the subway on the Ginza Line to Asakusa.
The one way journey in total from Shinjuku should be 340 Yen.
The temple itself is only seconds away from Asakusa Station! It’s clearly signposted and is pretty difficult to miss, but if you run into any trouble, either ask somebody or follow the crowds!
There is no entrance fee for the temple grounds, and it is open on every day of the week. Despite this, the main hall is only open from 06:00 to 17:00.
I would very much recommend going in the morning on a weekday; the weekends are often incredibly busy, as are the hours around lunctime and dinnertime.
What to do once you are there?
The approach to the temple is really quite amazing. Visitors will enter through the Kaminarimon gate, called the Thunder Gate when translated in english onto a shopping street of 200 metres called Nakamise, which leads directly to the temples second gate. At the gate you will see a huge Japanese lantern which is worth getting a picture in front of! Nakamise is lined with many shops selling a range of items including many traditional Japanese sweets, crafts and souvenirs as well as plenty of Kimono’s. You will find once you are there that many people wear kimono’s when visiting the temple, why not do it yourself and immerse yourself into the Japanese lifestyle and culture?
When reaching the end of this row of shops, you will get to the Hozomon Gate. From the Hozomon Gate you are able to see the five storied pagoda, as well as the temple’s main hall, as pictured below.
In front of the temple is an incense cauldron. The incense cauldron is meant to bring people luck for many things, whether this be health, love or studying. At the incense cauldron you will see many people praying, or wafting the smoke all over their body to cure certain ailments, or wafting it over their head in order to make them smarter!
The main hall itself is incredibly special. You may be lucky enough to see a service going on when visiting, but it is imperative that you are respectful of this and refrain from taking pictures.
Sensō-ji is a fantastic place to visit and there is really no place better to see traditional Japanese culture around Tokyo. You do not need to take a whole day out of your schedule to visit here, you can go there for an hour or two. So if you’re in Tokyo and you want to see one of the world’s most visited spiritual sites with over 30 million visitors annually – visit Sensō-ji!