One of the most beautiful temples, at the top of everyone’s must see in Japan lists is Senso-ji. The iconic and historic red temple with the beautiful lantern at the front just screams Japan!
Senso-ji 浅草寺 (also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, and is one of Tokyo’s most colourful and popular temples.
The temple was completed in 645 making it Tokyo’s oldest temple.
Legend has it that in the year 628 two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of Mercy, out of the Sumida River. Even though they put the statue back where they found it, it kept returning to them.
Because of this, Senso-ji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. It’s the oldest temple in Tokyo, although you would never guess that when you see it’s pristine condition. Senso-ji’s main hall and five story pagoda was destroyed in the war, so these buildings are relatively recent reconstructions.
There are a few events held at Senso-ji throughout the year. The main one is the annual festival of Sanja Matsuri, the festival of the Asakusa Shrine which is held in May each year. There is also the Asakusa Samba Carnival that’s held in August each year.
When approaching the temple you will first enter through the kaminarimon, also known as the thunder gate, which is the outer gate of Senso-ji Temple. These gates hold the large famous red lantern which is almost 12 meters tall.
There is then a long shopping street of over 200 meters called Nakamise, leading from the outer gate to the temple’s second gate, the hozomon.
You can find all sorts of gifts, souvenirs and treasures along the Nakamise including kimonos and folding fans, traditional local snacks and regular gifts such as bags, magnets, t-shirts and mugs. The Nakamise has a history of many centuries.
Beyond the Hozomon Gate is the temple’s main hall and a five storied pagoda.
Senso-ji was definitely one of our favourite temples in Japan. There was so much life there, with so many different kinds of people, all kinds of foods and souvenirs available and always something new and interesting to explore! It’s absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
Important info for visiting Senso-ji
The temple grounds of Senso-ji are always open, however the main hall is only open from 6am until 5pm (or 6:30pm from October to March).
Admission to Senso-ji is free, although donations are always welcome to help keep the temple so beautiful.
As one of the most popular temples in Japan, expect big crowds and busy conditions for your visit. To avoid the peak hours of the day, visit first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the tour buses aren’t around.
Getting to Senso-ji
To get to Senso-ji by train, hop off at Asakusa Station on the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line and Tobu Railways.
From Tokyo Station you can take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station and then transfer to the Ginza Subway Line, or from Shinjuku Station you can take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station before transferring to the Ginza Subway Line.
Senso-ji Temple || 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito
More temples around Japan
During our trip to Japan we visited lots of different temples. Some of our favourites include –
- Kinkaku-ji – also known as the Golden Pavilion
- Fushimi Inari-taisha – the temple with all the orange torii gates
- Meiji Shrine – right in the heart of the city, near Harajuku Station