If you come to Tokyo for sightseeing, you cannot miss Asakusa. You can spend about half a day visiting Kaminarimon, a symbol of sightseeing in Tokyo, and strolling down the shopping street leading to Sensoji Temple.
The oldest temple in Tokyo: Senso-ji
Sensoji Temple is the main spot of sightseeing in Asakusa. It is the oldest temple in Tokyo, founded in 628. Every year about 30 million people visit it from inside and outside of Japan. In each season, various events continuing from ancient times are held. It is a great spot for enjoying the atmosphere of the Edo period.
The symbol of Asakusa: Kaminarimon
Kaminarimon is the first thing you see after leaving the Asakusa Subway Station. A large red lantern is its mark. On both sides of the gate stand statues which are images of the gods of wind and thunder, Fujin and Raijin. The lantern is 3.9 meters in length and 3.3 meters in diameter, weighing 700 kilograms. When you look up at it from close by, you will be surprised by its powerful presence.
Shopping in Nakamise Street
After you pass through Kaminarimon, there are 88 shops to the temple on Nakamise Street. In the shopping street continuing from several hundred years ago, there are ukiyo-e goods and Japanese small articles. You can also buy Japanese sweets to take away. However, it is against the manners to shop with food in your hands, so you should either eat the food once you buy it or bring it home.
The attractions of Hozomon
Hozomon is the gate following Kaminarimon, and there is a main hall ahead of this gate. The images of Nio are standing on the left and right of Hozomon. They are the gatekeepers of the temple, protecting the Buddha from bad things. Their characteristics are the powerful faces that look like they might come to life at any moment. Displayed on the rear side of the gate are two giant straw sandals ("waraji"), each measuring 4.5 meters in length.
Purifying before visiting the temple
Purify your mind and body at the "Omizusha (water hut)" before visiting the Kannon of Sensoji Temple. Draw water flowing from the mouths of eight dragons to prepare for the visit. You can refer to the procedure which is described in the hut with pictures.
Purify with smoke
There is a "Jokoro (normal incense burner)" in front of the main hall, which smoke rises from. According to the folk belief, if you touch the smoke to unhealthy parts of your body, it will recover. You can give it a try. If you want to burn incense, you can buy a bundle for 100 JPY at the building next door.
Visiting the main hall
1300 years ago, there was Kannon caught in the net of brothers fishing in the nearby Sumida River. This Kannon is enshrined in the main hall. The present building was rebuilt in 1958. Enter the temple from the open door, and put your hands together quietly.
Drawing an Omikuji Fortune
After visiting Kannon, let's draw an omikuji. Different from fortune-telling, omikuji is the message from Kannon. There are bars in a wooden box, numbered from 1 to 100. Shake the box and receive the paper with the number of the bar coming out of the box. It says your fortune in the future.
A 48-meter five-story pagoda
After visiting, you can look around the grounds. Although you cannot enter the five-story pagoda, its towering appearance in the sky is a great spot for taking photos. The bones of Buddha are enshrined on the top floor. The light up from sunset to 11:00 p.m. is also splendid.