Senso-ji Temple   浅草寺

Date of publication :
Rows market leading directly to the entrance of the Senso-ji temple Asakusa.

Rows market leading directly to the entrance of the Senso-ji temple Asakusa.

The kamiramon, thunder gate marks the entrance to the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa (Tokyo).

Kamiramon, thunder gate marks the entrance to Senso-ji temple in Asakusa (Tokyo).

Pagoda 5 floors bordering the Asakusa temple Senso-ji (Tokyo).

Pagoda 5 floors bordering the Asakusa temple Senso-ji (Tokyo).

The remains of compassion

"Compassion is not for others" - Japanese proverb

The Senso-ji Temple of Asakusa , a temple particularly appreciated by Japanese people is dedicated to the Kannon Buddhist goddess. The latter, a bodhisattva (being who has attained the state of enlightenment but chose to defer their buddha status) is very popular in Japan because she embodies compassion. This explains the number of regular visitors to Japanese temples. Sensoji itself is imposing as it was built in the center of a Buddhist complex which includes entire streets of Asakusa.

Hidden Kannon

The entrance of the sanctuary consists of an impressive gate, Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), from which are suspended the largest red paper lanterns in Japan. Before reaching the temple itself, you have to cross a crowded shopping arcade Nakamise-dori, which combines souvenir stands and traditional objects. At the end of this alley, a second monumental gate can be seen, the Hōzōmon (door to the treasure room), attractive by its two statues of Nio, the guardian of the Buddha, and his two oversized pilgrim sandals, o-waraji, bringing luck and happiness to those who touch them.

Once you reach the main building of the temple, the room called "the goddess" (Kannon-do), at the top of a flight of stairs, it is respectful to bow to the altar and clap hands twice before going to deposit a coin in the poor box in honor of Kannon. The statue of the goddess who gave her fame to the temple cannot be seen and rests in the "treasure room", accessed only clerics. In the past, many Japanese people enveloped themsleves in incense smoke and performed traditional ablutions.

Around the temple

The interest of the Senso-ji is not only based in the main room but also in the five-story pagoda visible to the left of the temple, the second highest in Japan after that of Toji Temple, south of Kyoto. The little-known Shinto temple Asakusa-jinja on the right side of the main hall is also the scene of the most famous Shinto festival in the country, the Sanja Matsuri. Another wonder of Senso-ji, slightly isolated and a haven of tranquility, the Japanese garden of the temple behind the pagoda is an adequate stop to escape the crowds and get lost in the contemplation of the artificial carp pond.

Note, however, that the current Senso-ji is a 1958 reconstruction, the original was destroyed by bombing in World War II. The only survivor is the small hexagonal Rokkakudo altar, near the temple garden.

Comments Read comments from our travellers