Asakusa Sensoji Temple | Tokyo
Buddhist temple Sensoji is the oldest temple in the city of Tokyo. Located in Asakusa, it the most visited spiritual place in the world with more than 30 million visitors a year. This is no wonder, as the streets surrounding the temple as well as the temple itself breathe a distinct traditional atmosphere. Let’s learn more about this important historical place!
History of Sensoji
The history of this temple dates back to 628 when the Hinokuma brothers found a statue of goddess Kannon in the Sumida river. She is the goddess of mercy in the Buddhist pantheon. The brothers took the statue to the village chief’s house and explained what had happened.
Hajino Nakamoto, then governor of what we know today as Asakusa, realized that this statue was sacred. He believed that it had been sent by the gods to protect the village. Therefore, the governor remodeled his own house and in the center of the village, the Kannon temple was founded. This was the basis of today’s Sensoji that became the first temple in Tokyo.
In the Edo period, this temple was growing and became the meeting point for the citizens of Asakusa. The Tokugawa clan who was in charge of the country at that time gave it protection. At the end of the Edo Period, many stores were formed near the temple to support the economic growth of the city. But when the Meiji period arrived, the entire market area, now called Nakamise Dori, was remodeled in western style. Unfortunately, in the great Tokyo earthquake, the shops were severely affected. The entire site was rebuilt again and completed in 1925.
Impact of WW2
Very sadly, the area was brutally bombed at the end of the war in March 1945. Afterward, all the villagers set out to rebuild the temple again, and this is the version of the temple we see today. The temple was one of the first in all of Japan to be rebuilt after the war, becoming a symbol of hope for the people of Tokyo, the symbol of reconstruction after the stormy war.
In 2012, the Tokyo Skytree was completed near the Sensoji temple which is the tallest tower in the world. Today, when you arrive at Sensoji you can see this magnificent contrast of the oldest temple of Tokyo with the most modern tower in the world in the background. Currently, the temple is visited by a large number of international tourists and Japanese tourists alike. So in the new Nakamise Dori you can find typical objects of Japanese culture, such as t-shirts or flags of the country.
The Sensoji grounds can also be visited at night, combining a magical and spiritual environment. It also makes for a great photo opportunity and a chance to enjoy this popular place without the crowds. Please note that most of the shops around the area are closed after 5-6 pm.