Sensoji is Tokyo's oldest and most colourful Buddhist temple. Known by locals as the temple of Asakusa Kannon (Goddess of Mercy in Buddhism), this particular temple attracts visitors from all over Japan and the world, remaining a pinnacle of worship and a must-visit in Tokyo, after the Shibuya Crossing.
The thunder gate stands tall and proud as the outer gate of the temple and a symbol of Asakusa, flanked by wind and thunder gods. Following this, the thunder gate leads to a shopping street called Nakamise. The shops sell anything and everything, from delicious foods to souvenirs. Not all purchases are cheap, however are well worth a look regardless.
It's worth also noting that some of the stalls selling food do not allow you to leave the proximity of the stall. When purchasing ice-cream we were requested to eat under the stall and we saw it was a way to prevent people from littering. The Hozomon gate welcomes you when you've reached the end of the shopping strip and marks the entrance to the main hall and the five storey pagoda. The main hall is surrounded by Omikuji houses and you can even spot the Tokyo Skytree from Asakusa.
Before entering the temple, it's a good idea to cleanse your hands and mouth by using the available ladles at the purification fountains. Use the ladle to transfer water to your hands and when cleansing your mouth, remember not to bring the ladle to your lips but to pour some water into your hands. There is also a large incense burner where you can light a bundle of incense and then extinguish the flames by waving your hand. Many believe the smoke possesses healing powers and promote good health and so many wave the smoke toward them when paying respects.
You can choose to purchase an Omikuji and shake the tin full of little smooth wooden sticks that somewhat resemble Pocky. Each has a number that correlates with a drawer full of varying fortunes. Shake the little canister, slide out a stick, read out that number and match it up with the draw. Within it lies your fortune. If you come across a good fortune or best fortune, keep the slip. If however you receive a bad fortune, roll up the paper and tie it on the rack nearby. Omikuji cost 100 yen, are a bit of fun and pose as good personal souvenirs. I've certainly kept mine with me in my wallet. The Omikuji themselves are translated from Japanese to Chinese, Korean and English.
There is always something so blissful and peaceful about visiting beautiful places of worship. Sensoji is Tokyo's oldest Buddhist Temple and is a must visit when in Tokyo. We visited in the late afternoon to evening, which provided us a chance to walk around the temple grounds freely and without too many crowds.
The Ginza subway line will take you straight to Asakusa. If coming from Tokyo Station, take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station then to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa. The second way of getting there is to take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station to Kanda Station and again transferring to the Ginza Subway Line.
Admission and opening hours
Admission is free and you can visit any time from 6am - 5pm for the Main Hall. The temple grounds are always open, every day of the week.