Tokyo – Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa

Asakusa is most famous for Sensō-ji Buddhist Temple. Founded in 628AD, it’s Tokyo’s oldest temple and a major tourist site that attracts big crowds. It was the very first place I was taken when I arrived in Tokyo as a young teacher back in 1991, so it was really nice to visit it again after so many years.

My Google map is here.

You enter the temple complex via the Kaminarimon gate, famous for its huge red lantern.

As this is Japan, you then pass through a street full of shops.

This is Nakamise-dōri where you can get such essential take home items as Geta (open toed wooden sandals)…

…and Furin (wind chimes).

You then come to Hōzōmon, the second gate.

Before praying you should go through a purification process. First you wash your hands in the water flowing from the mouths of eight dragons in the Omizusha (water hut).

Next you waft smoke over yourself at the Jokoro, an incense brazier. It’s believed that if the smoke touches unhealthy parts of the body they will get better.

Finally you climb the steps to the main hall…

… and throw some change into the big box at the open door of the temple and put your hands together in prayer. Here Shinsaku is praying that his chosen horses for the day will win their races!

From the temple it’s just a short walk to the Sumida River. Boat tours leave from here should you fancy one.

We just came to see the view. Over the water is the Asahi Beer Headquarters Building which was designed by French designer Philippe Starck and completed in 1989. It is topped by the Asahi Flame which is meant to represent the ‘burning heart of Asahi beer’.

Shinsaku told me the building is known by some locals as ‘the Golden Turd’ (kin no unko, 金のうんこ)!

Sorry for the irreverent end to this post, but that’s Japan for you!

Off to Kappabashi Cook’s Town next!

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