A Field Trip to Sensō-ji, Asakusa

To test out my new camera, I decided to go on a field trip to one of Tokyo’s most famous cultural areas – Asakusa (浅草). This area is particularly large and it definitely requires more than one day to completely traverse. So I decided to visit one of the oldest temples in Tokyo: Sensō-ji (金龍山浅草寺).

Founded in 628, the temple was destroyed during World War II before being rebuilt as a symbol of rebirth and peace to the Japanese people. The Sensō-ji temple covers a large area of land with the main entrance being the Kaminarimon Gate.

View of the gate from across the Asakusa tourist information centre.
View of the Kaminarimon Gate from across the Asakusa tourist information centre.
Many tourists and Japanese people visit the temple everyday
Many tourists and Japanese people visit the temple everyday
No, this is not a Nazi symbol - it's the symbol for Buddhist Temples
No, this is not a Nazi symbol – it’s the symbol for Buddhist Temples

Beyond the gate is Nakamise-dori Street. This is a long street with many vendors selling traditional items, souvenirs, and treats.

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Masks line the walls of many of these stores – ranging from the traditional to the modern… My favourite one was of The Joker
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Many different types of treats and candies also line the street – kids buzz around the places pleading for their parents to buy them treats.
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Some colourful fans. Sidenote: I did not see the obvious ‘no photo’ placards until after the damage was already done.

After passing through the Hozomon Gate, you then get to the Main Hall (Hondo) with a five-storied Pagoda on your left. In this area, there is a giant incense burner and an area to get your fortune from.

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The Hozomon Gate – another place for people to take photos of themselves
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A glimpse of the main hall through the Hozomon Gate
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The five-storied Pagoda.
You can buy a stick of incense for 100 yen.
You can buy a stick of incense for 100 yen (R10).
You then light your incense using the small burners here.
You then light your incense using the small burners here.
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You then put your incense into a giant burner with all the other sticks.
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You then gesture the smoke towards you.
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(Badly) written rules on how the fortune telling works.
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Here is the stick that I received from the silver cylinder. You then match the symbol to a drawer. P.S. The symbol on my stick means nine in Japanese.
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There are hundreds of drawers to choose from. Make sure you find your right drawer!
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You then get a sheet of paper that tells you your fortune. Some are good, some are bad. I got a ‘best fortune’, yay!

There was also a fantastic chōzuya or temizuya (water ablution pavilion) where you purify yourself by cleansing your hands and mouth with the water – a traditional practice at both shrines and temples.

A chōzuya or temizuya (手水舎) for purifying yourself before praying before a deity.
A chōzuya or temizuya (手水舎) for purifying yourself before praying before a deity.
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Water can be scooped up using the ladles that surround the basin.
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All types of people come forth to purify themselves.

Aside from all of these traditional features and temple halls around the temple, there are also plenty of statues where people can pray:

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But of course, it wouldn’t be Japan without any street food vendors to serve you traditional Japanese food.

A line of street food vendors near the temple
A line of street food vendors near the temple
All types of food ready to be grilled
All types of food ready to be grilled

If temples and street food aren’t your thing, there is also an amusement park nearby with plenty of rides. I know that this area will impress many children (and maybe some adults).

 

Of course there is also plenty more to do and see in Asakusa, but I’m only one person who had only one day!

 

Asakusa is a great place to visit if you’re on a budget as there is so much to do an see that is free. Of course there are also some other costs, but seeing as I made it through the whole day only spending 600 yen (R60), I would consider that a bargain.

A Map of Sensō-ji and surrounding temples
A Map of Sensō-ji and surrounding temples

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3 thoughts on “A Field Trip to Sensō-ji, Asakusa

  1. Pingback: 5 Ways to Travel around Tokyo | Booth in Japan

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