Japan: Sensoji Temple

Visiting temples and shrines in Japan is a great thing to do, not just for the cultural and historical significance of these sites, but also because aside from the cost of train fare, they are free. Adam and I skipped over to visit the Sensoji Temple, a Buddhist temple that is Tokyo’s oldest (built in 645).

Sensō-ji Temple's Kaminarimon 雷門 Thunder Gate

Kaminarimon 雷門 (Thunder Gate) leading into the Sensoji Temple grounds.

After a short walk from the train, we arrived at and passed through the Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, which houses four statues and one very large lantern. Between that and the inner ground is the Nakamise-Dori, a street lined with vendor stalls. This line of shops has been around for several centuries. It is now considered very kitschy and the place for tourists to go and pick up souvenirs and gifts. Which we did!

Sensoji Temple Asakusa 金龍山浅草寺 Nakamise-Dori

Long line of vendor stalls between the front gate and the temple, called Nakamise-Dori.

Vendor Stall at Sensoji Temple Asakusa

Pagoda at Sensō-ji Japan's oldest Buddhist Temple

The next gate is Hozomon, the Treasure Gate. First built in 942, it is two stories and houses national and cultural treasures. Outside, it features three large lanterns, two statues of Nio, the guardian deity of Buddha, and two very large waraji – straw sandals.

宝蔵門 "Treasure-House Gate" Hozomon at Sensoji Temple

The two-story inner gate, known at the Teasure-House Gate, built in 942, and rebuilt in 1636 and 1964.

Hozomon and pagoda

Sensoji Temple Hozomon Close-Up

A closer shot; you can spot the Niō statues that stand on either side of the gate’s south face.

Adam and I in front of the lantern at Asakusa Shrine

Close up of lanterns at the Treasure Gate

Close up of lanterns at the Treasure Gate

Underside of the red chōchin

The underside of the red chōchin commemorating the 400th anniversary of the start of the Edo period.

One of two 2.75 metre-tall copper tōrō

One of two 2.75 metre-tall copper tōrō also hanging in the Hozomon.

The backside of the Hozomon, showing the two large sandals on the back.

The backside of the Hozomon, showing the two large sandals on the back.

SENSOJI Asakusa Kannon

The inner building. There are gardens, fountains, and other loveliness behind, but as it was not a holiday, this was all closed.

Sensoji Temple good luck charms and blessings

Sensoji Temple good luck charms for sale.

At the shrine, we waited to pay our respects in the traditional manner, which is to toss money in a receptacle, clap your hands together, then place them together in the gassho position (like praying for Christians) and bow your head for a bit. Having done that, we hung out for a bit and headed back to our side of town, souvenirs in tow. It would be very interesting to visit Sensoji during one of the Shinto festivals, Sanja Matsuri – Tokyo’s largest. It lasts for 3-4 days, and is very popular.

Heading back towards the Nakamise-Dori

Heading back towards the Nakamise-Dori

Some art on display on Sensoji Temple grounds

Some art on display on Sensoji Temple grounds


Side streets near Sensoji Temple

We opted to take side streets rather than go back down Nakamise-Dori.

We had a good, low-key time at Sensoji Temple, walking around the stalls, buying souvenirs, checking out the temple, and generally soaking in the culture. Unfortunately for me, I did not know that there is a pretty neat-looking Shinto shrine on the temple grounds. Had I known, we would totally have visited it as well. I will have to add that to the rapidly growing list of reasons to go back to Japan as soon as possible!


Nerd. Foodie. Gamer. Homecook. Perpetual planner. Gardener. Aspiring homesteader. Direct response graphic designer. I use too many damn commas.