Asakusa is a part of Tokyo‘s downtown Taito district best known for its many temples, particularly Sensoji.

Sensoji, also known as Asakusa Kannon, is Tokyo’s largest Buddhist temple and a major attraction for Japanese and foreigners alike. Take the Sensoji exit of the subway and follow the crowds.

What to know about Sensoji

  • Up first is the Kaminarimon or “Thunder Gate“, featuring a much-photographed giant lantern and statues of guardian gods Raijin (god of thunder) and Fujin (god of wind). First built in 942, the gate has been destroyed numerous times and the current incarnation dates to only 1950. The Nakamise shopping arcade leading up to the temple starts after the gate (see Buy).
  • At the end of the arcade is the main gate Hozomon, notable for a giant straw sandal (waraji) hung up on one side. This gate too is guarded by ferocious guardian gods.
  • The perennially busy Kannondo (Kannon Hall) is behind the gate, with a steady stream of worshippers wafting incense over themselves and trooping up the steps to pray and donate. According to legend, the hall was originally built in 628 to house a statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, fished out of the Sumida River by two brothers.
  • To the west is the Gojonoto (5-Story Pagoda), reputedly containing some of the ashes of the Buddha.

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