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Writer:Yuta Sakaguchi

Hi, I’m Yuta. I grew up and live in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo. I once lived in Kichijoji, located in the western part of Tokyo. I love walking around a street and taking pictures. On my article I introduce attractions mainly of Tokyo with many wonderful pictures. Please enjoy them!

Kinryuzan Sensoji Temple

July 1, 2015

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Hozomon Gate and Gojunoto (Five storied Pagoda)

Outline

Kinryuzan Sensoji Temple is located at Asakusa of Tokyo and one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Japan. It’s not only a must sightseeing spot but also central of Asakusa. The legend says that this oldest temple in Tokyo was established in 628. Kinryuzan (Mountain of Golden Dragon) is Sango (the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple) and according to the fable, a golden dragon flew down there at a manifestation of Kannon (Goddess of Mercy). This temple has been attracting many people, so that 2.3 million people visit there to make wishes for the coming year (Hatsumode) and the total number of visitors is 30 million throughout the year.
In the precincts of it, there are imposing and buildings worth seeing such as Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder-gate), Hozomon Gate, Five-storied Pagoda and Main Hall. On Nakamise Street, there are a lot of shops in a row and it’s full with people. It’s a great unique point of Sensoji Temple that the temple as the divine place and Nakamise Street as a part of the world, where we live in, are mixed together and, which enhance their attractiveness. It’s free to enter there for 24 hours.
Let’s take a tour from Kaminarimon Gate and I’ll tell you about the points of the precincts.


The view of Hozomon Gate from Main Hall

Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder-gate)


Kaminarimon Gate

It’s a main gate and representative spot of Sensoji Temple. The official name is Fujin- Raijin gate. Fujin (wind god) and Raijin (thunder god) stand at the right side and the left side respectively. After it was burnt down in 1866, it wasn’t rebuilt for a while. In 1960, however, Konosuke MATSUSHITA, a founder of Panasonic Corporation, contributed to it for its reconstruction because when he got ill, he visited there and got well. Oh, and don’t forget to see the back of the lantern, a dragon is carved.


A dragon at the back of the lantern

Nakamise Street


Nakamise Street

After going through Kaminarimon Gate, Nakamise Street stretches for 250m to Hozomon Gate. It’s a one of the oldest shopping street in Japan, which was made in 1688 to 1753(Genroku era to Kyoho era). There are 89 shops - Japanese styled confections, Japanese clothes, Japanese styled stuffs and souvenirs - in a line, so the street is flourish. The popular things are especially Kaminari-okoshi (a sweeten rice cracker), deep-fried manju (a bun stuffed with red-bean paste) and Kibidango (a millet dumpling). You can enjoy going from one to another, trying various kinds of food there.

Hozomon Gate


Hozomon Gate

It’s bigger than Kaminarimon Gate and dynamic. There is Nio Guardian at each side of the gate so this gate is called Nio-mon Gate as well. In 1945, it had been burnt by an air raid, after that it was reconstructed in 1964. What is the eye-catching is a big straw sandal on its back. It shows that a creature wearing such huge straw sandals is protecting this gate, which expels from bad things. You can see Main Hall finally when you pass this gate.


A big straw sandal on the back of Hozomon Gate


A scene that extends behind Hozomon Gate (Main Hall, etc.)

Incense burner (Jokoro)


Incense burner (Jokoro)

The near side of Main Hall, there is the incense burner. It's said that putting the smoke on yourself will heal affected part of your body. Let’s try it by yourself and see it works or not before going to Main Hall.

Omizuya (wash-hand stand/ purification fountain)


Omizuya

Cleanse your hands and mouth at Omizuya when visiting Main Hall. Omizuya is used by only Sensoji Temple and generally called as Chozusha. You realize that how great the god of dragon statute is.

Main Hall


Main Hall

Main Hall’s feature is a high-pitched roof and impressive building. A principal image of Buddha and Omaedachi principal image of Buddha (the exhibited statue in a secret hidden place) are enshrined inside. There used to be a Main Hall made in 1644 but it was gone by the war in 1945. This current Main Hall was rebuilt as the same designed of the old one in 1958.
The principal image of Buddha is known as Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon Bodhisattva) and Sensoji Temple is known as Asakusa Kannon. Since 645, Meiji government officers were the only people who saw the principal image of Buddha because it’s rarely shown to the public (“absolute hibutsu”). Omaedachi principal image of Buddha is shown on the day of a Buddhist memorial ceremony of exhibiting it once a year, at 2pm of December 13, therefore people usually worship to the palace where those are shrined. It’s believed that chanting “namu kanzeon bosatsu” grants any wish. Don’t miss a dragon and a celestial nymph pictures on a ceiling. It opens at 6am and closes at 5pm.


The inside of Main Hall


The palace


A dragon picture on a ceiling


A celestial nymph picture on a ceiling

Five-storied Pagoda (Gojunoto)


Five storied Pagoda (Gojunoto) and Tokyo Skytree

In the precincts of Sensoji Temple, you notice eye-catching Five-storied Pagoda, 53m of its height. You can take wonderful pictures of this pagoda with Hozomon Gate, and with Tokyo Skytree in each one frame. The top of this tower has Buddha's ashes from a temple in Sri Lanka as a ceremonial transfer of a divided tutelary deity. There used to be a pagoda built in 1648 but it was destroyed by an air raid of 1945. In 1973, it was reconstructed but you can’t go to inside.

Yogodo hall


Yogodo hall

It’s for enshrining Buddha cooperating with Kannon (Yogo shu). It’s located at West side of Main Hall. It has also Goshuin (a stamp that is given at a shrine or a temple) place of Sensoji Temple. There is a pound where fancy carps swim and spans the oldest stone bridge (it was made in 1618). At the left side of the hall, a hexagonal building (Rokkakudo) is, the oldest wooden structure (it was built in the 16th century) in Tokyo, located. You can also see Statue of Amitabha tathagata there.


A pond and the stone bridge


A hexagonal building (Rokkakudo)


Statue of Amitabha tathagata

Other points worthy of notes

Niten-mon Gate

It’s the oldest gate at Sensoji Temple, put up in 1618. It has been repaired a couple of times but the present gate is as same as the first style of it.

Asakusa shrine

Three people; Nakatomo, Hajino, Hamanari Hinokumano and Takenari Hinokumano; who were concerned with a foundation of Sensoji Temple, are worshiped there.
The name of it is commonly known by Sanja Gongen. An annual festival called Sanja festival is one of famous festivals in Tokyo.

Denpoin Temple

It’s a Honbo (has a guest hall, mortuary tablets of the chief priests etc...) of Sensoji Temple. There is a beautiful Japanese garden and the view of the Five-storied Pagoda is amazing. It’s usually exclusive but you can see it occasionally. Don’t miss it!
For detail: https://www.ambassadors-japan.com/en/tokyodailylife/341/


The garden and Gojunoto and Daishoin

Komagatado hall

It’s located at the south of Sensoji Temple and a western edge of Komagata-bridge. It’s where Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon Bodhisattva) was found from Sumida River and concerned with the foundation of Sensoji Temple closely.

Kinryu no mai (Golden Dragon Dance)

Kinryu no mai, named after Sango (the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple), is performed every March when Buddha appears this world, and every October when believers offer flower (chrysanthemum).
For detail: https://www.ambassadors-japan.com/en/tokyodailylife/397/



Illumination

Main Hall, Five-storied Pagoda, Hozomon Gate and Kaminarimon Gate are lighten up from sunset to 23pm. You can enjoy solemn atmosphere as a difference of daytime’s.
For detail: https://www.ambassadors-japan.com/en/tokyodailylife/249/



History

If you want to know about its history, check the official website below;
http://www.senso-ji.jp/about/index_e.html

Sensoji Temple is not only a holy place but also is filled with this world’s energy. Enjoy those imposing buildings and that mixed unique atmosphere when you visit here!

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