Tokyo: Sensō-ji Temple
Today I'll be talking about Sensō-ji (金龍山浅草寺), one of the most iconic temples in Asakusa, Tokyo.
Sensō-ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo which makes it extremely important to Japan’s people and it’s history. The temple was originally founded in 645 CE and was dedicated to bodhisattva Kannon (bodshitsattva is a Sanskrit term for anyone who motivated by great compassion and has reached enlightenment) or Avalokiteśvara.
Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty and to postpone his own buddhahood until he has assisted every sentient being in achieving nirvana (source 1, source 2).
According to the story, in 628 CE a statue of Avalokiteśvara was found in Sumida River by two fisherman. The leader of the village realized the sanctity of the statue and enshrined it by making his own house into a small temple in Asakusa. The temple later was designed as protection for the Tokugawa Shogunate which was lead by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
More on Tokugawa Ieyasu here in my article on Kunozan Toshogu Shrine (located in Shizuoka Prefecture).
After World War 2 the temple was destroyed and rebuilt as a symbol or rebirth and peace among the Japanese people (source 3).
When I lived in Tokyo in 2012-2013 I actually lived within walking distance of this temple in Asakusa. I’m a bit disappointed now that I didn’t take advantage of being so close to this area and wish I went a lot more often than I did before. The temple was beautiful as always. I think I’ve visited Sensō-ji a total of 4 times.
It’s good luck to stand underneath the lantern.
Sky Tree can be seen in the distance which is a lovely addition to the atmosphere of this temple.
I wonder where the original temple stood in 645 CE..
Around the side streets there were a ton of places to stop and have some street food as well as find some very interesting places for coffee. I have never gone through these streets before (another thing I’m kicking myself for because I literally lived right here), and was blown away by the charming character of the area and the friendly locals.
We then went back towards the main shopping area and stopped for some melon bread.
It was so crispy and sweet and the shop owner even came over to chat with us and was surprised to find out we live in Shizuoka.
We then also had some some crab on a stick because you can’t just pass up crab on a stick.
Thanks for reading!