Located in a touristy neighbourhood in Asakasu, Taito, Tokyo’s oldest temple Sensoji, also known as the Asakasu Kannon, is a symbol of peace and rebirth, having risen from the despair of World War Two. Today it is rebuilt to its former glory and the grandeur of its entrance to the intricacies of architecture are something to explore and marvel at. The temple is dedicated to the Boddhistva Kannon, also known as the Goddess of Mercy. It also has the Asakusa shrine adjacent to it.
The construction of the temple goes as far back as 645 and its origin is surrounded by interesting folklore. Legend has it that two fisherman fishing at the Sumida River fished a statue of the Kannon and the leader of the village having recognized the statue built his own home as a shrine dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. The temple was erected in honour of this goddess whose statue is purposely kept hidden from public eye. The temple succumbed to the bombing raids during World War Two and was later rebuilt to its former state and today, the Sensoji Temple is a centre place in the Shinto Festival held in Tokyo during a few days in late spring.
The ‘Kaminarimon’ better known as the ‘thunder gate’ is a paper lantern fiercely painted in loud splashes of red and black and stands to greet visitors at the entrance. The interior complex is accessible once you pass through the Treasure House Gate. The five story pagoda is the most prominent part of the temple and contains the main hall which is devoted to the Bodhisatva Kannon. A quiet and secluded garden within the temple exudes the traditional Japanese style. The surroundings of the temple cater to tourists, and the Nakamise-Dori that lies from the thunder gate to the next entrance is full of boutiques and souvenir shops selling everything from Buddhist scrolls to t-shirts. There is also a good collection of eateries to get a taste of Sushi, tempura or handmade noodles.
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