In October 2019, I spent a few days in Tokyo. It was my first visit to the country, and I was looking forward to seeing as much as I could in a short time. I was excited to immerse myself in the culture. The best way to learn about culture is to understand the heritage and religion of the people. Religion links you to the architecture, history, and traditions more than anything else. My first stop was Asakusa and Sensōji Temple.
Sensōji is the oldest and most colorful Buddhist Temple in Tokyo. It is a place where you can experience a more traditional lifestyle. Perfect for taking photos. So sharing my experience, I give you 15 photos that tell a story about the temple and culture of Tokyo.
Sensōji was created to help call on Buddha to protect the city of Edo in the northeast district. Today, Edo is called Tokyo. Hozoman Gate is one of the main entrances to the temple.
The giant red chōchin lantern and copper tōrō at Hozoman Gate are considered an offering to Buddha.
The incense burner in the center is surrounded by visitors who wave the smoke towards their bodies for healing.
The temple is a must see. It is a popular place for school trips in Tokyo.
These wooden drawers hold Omikuji fortunes. Pick out a small wooden stick from an adjacent container and match the kanji characters on the stick to a drawer for your fortune. The fortunes are written in Japanese kanji with English translations.
If you receive a negative fortune, fold the piece of paper into a thin strip and tie it up on the wire located outside the temple— tying your bad fortune here means you leave behind its omen.
Most temples in Tokyo have a chozuya (purification fountain.) Sensōji's features, dragons. It is the custom to use one of the ladles provided to cleanse your hands and rinse inside your mouth before entering the shrine.
It is not customary to drink the water.
Despite the crowds in the main square, there are some quiet places to spend time in peace and prayer.
Inside the temple’s main hall is a large golden statute, lights and flowers behind a huge glass wall. Only priests are allowed to pray within this wall.
Legend says that during the Edo period, two brothers cast their fishing rods in a local river and caught a golden statue of the Buddhist deity Kannon in their nets. They threw it back in the water, but every time they would put their lines back in they would catch the statue all over again. Finally, they brought it home and the village chief built a temple for it. People came from everywhere to worship the statute.
The ceiling inside the temple has intricately designed celestial Buddhist scenes. It is some of the greatest artwork from Sensōji's collection.
Several koi ponds surround the temple and are usually found at most Buddhist temples. Koi fish are a symbol of good fortune and luck.
Built in the 10th century, Goju-no-to, the five-storied pagoda contains memorial tablets and Japanese gravestones. Each level represents sky, wind, fire, water and earth, the elements of the Buddhist universe.
View from within the main hall of the temple.
On your way out of the temple you will walk down Nakamise shopping street. The street is over 100 years old. The name means, "inside street", because it is within temple grounds. It is one of the best places to try traditional Japanese snacks like these savoury buns filled with sweet potato, sesame, curry, pumpkin, green tea, custard, and chocolate.