Tokyo (2015) Day 1 – Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) Buddhist Temple

NOTE: This is part of a serialized narrative of a 2015 Japanese vacation. Please see below for links to previous postings.

Sensoji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa district of Tokyo. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple completed in 645 and one of its most significant. It is often used as the site for special seasonal events and serves as the headquarters of the Sho-Kannon sect.

The Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Buddhist Temple) appeared shortly after we entered the grounds from the bus parking area.

First view of Sensoji  Temple

This is a side view of the entrance to the temple.

Side view of Entrance to the Temple

Along the way, we passed a Zen garden with a statue of Buddha

Zen Garden with Buddha statue

A Five-story pagoda tower (Goju-No-To) which, among other things, houses the relics of the Buddha on the top floor is situated near the temple.

Five-story pagoda tower

This is a close up view of the massive red chochin (paper lantern) hanging inside one of the gates.

large, red paper lantern

The swastika is an ancient symbol used in many areas of the world. Ironically, it refers to a sense of well-being in sanskrit. In Buddhism it symbolizes good fortune. You can read more about the various religious connotations behind the swastika at ReligionFacts.

Swastika is a Buddhist symbol of good fortune

An incense burner is maintained outside the shrine. Bathing in the smoke is reputed to ward off illness and is often done before entering the temple grounds for prayers.

Incense burner to ward off illness

An altar area is reserved for prayer and is cordoned off from general public attendance.

Altar area for prayer and not for the general public

The ceilings inside the temple were painted with beautiful artwork. Visitors have to look up, down and all around to appreciate the entire experience.

Beautiful artwork everywhere: ceiling detail

Inside the temple, there is a fortune telling ritual for those who wish to indulge. In the photo below, our guide) describes the process.

Fortune papers can be had for a donation

Here is a quote about omikuji (paper) fortunes from the Scenes from Nadine website:

“If you get a good fortune, you should bring it home and put it under your pillow when you sleep. Also, you can’t look too triumphant because boasting about it is bad luck. Apparently, how you react to your fortune matters! You must keep a poker face, regardless of your fate.

So what if you get a bad fortune? Maintain a straight face and leave it behind! It is believed that you should leave your bad fortune where you found it, which happens to be at the temple. Visitors end up tying their bad fortunes on this rod.”

Leaving the fortune behind requires the seeker to leave it tied to one of the metal rods set out for that purpose.

Metal fords for posting poor fortunes

This is another area of prayer sectioned off from the general visiting area by wire mesh.

Additional prayer area for serious worshippers

A distant view of the temple entrance from Nakamise Street lined with vendors.

View of the gate in the distance taken from Nakamise Street

Yukatas are lightweight Japanese robes which serve as casual wear during the warmer weather and are technically different than Kimonos. This group of girls/women in their Yukatas enjoyed posing for their picture on the temple steps.

Women dressed in traditional Japanese garb, Yukatas

An interesting and rather large decorative structure was situated to one side of the temple gate.

Decorative structure outside the shrine

Another lantern outside the temple which wasn’t nearly as large as the previous red example above is created in a different style.

Black and Gold Lantern outside the temple

A family out for a fun day at this famous tourist site is wearing Disney shirts.

A family dressed in Disney garb out for the day

A crowd of tourists strolls along Nakamise Street as this view taken from the temple area shows.

Another view of Nakamise Street

The Tokyo Skytree seems ubiquitous when moving around the city as it crops up from time-to-time.
Tokyo Skytree viewed from the temple area

This was a very busy first day in Tokyo and we weren’t quite done!

Tokyo (2015) Day 1 – Meiji Shrine

Tokyo (2015) Day 1 – Imperial Palace East Gardens originally published this post

One thought on “Tokyo (2015) Day 1 – Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) Buddhist Temple

  • February 24, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Thank you for the mention! Your post is very informative. 🙂 Well done!


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