[YOUTUBE] Sensoji Temple – Your Best Japan Guide
What is Sensoji Temple?
Do you know what is the oldest temple in Tokyo? Located nearby the Sumida River in the eastern Tokyo, Sensoji Temple dates back to 628 and is known as the oldest Buddhist Temple in Tokyo.
What to See
1. Kaminarimon Gate and the Giant Lantern
The main entrance to Sensoji Temple is called the Kaminarimon Gate. It stands in the spacious area in front of the main approach.
At the center of the gate hangs a giant lantern that weighs 700 kilograms. Be ready to be awed.
2. Statues of Fujin and Raijin
Two majestic statues stand on either side of the Kaminarimon gate. Fujin, the god of wind, is on the right, and Raijin, the god of thunder, is on the left.
Fujin protects people from storms and wind, while Raijin provides the people with rain and enough water for farming. Both gods have been devoutly worshiped for centuries.
Though Sensoji Temple’s front gate is usually called “Kaminarimon Gate,” it is officially called “Furaijin-mon Gate.”
3. Nakamise Street
The main approach leading up to Sensouji Temple is called “Nakamise Street.” You can see numerous souvenir and confectionery shops lining both sides: 54 on the right side and 35 on the left. All the shops sell traditional Japanese goods, so you can experience that part of the country’s rich history and culture.
4. Benevolent Sei-Kannon
While the Kaminarimon Gate and Nakamise Street provide unforgettable impressions, the true essence of Sensoji temple is in Kannon-do Hall. Inside the hall, the statue of Sei-Kannon, the object of worship, is dedicated. People in Japan worship Sei-Kannon as a benevolent entity who helps all sentient beings.
Unlike other Buddhist temples, Sensoji temple doesn’t have an image of rigorous training and asceticism. The place is very open and welcoming, and locals even affectionately call it “Kannon-san.”
More than 30 million people visit Sensoji every year, and it is one of the top 5 most visited temples on New Year’s Day. Sensoji is the oldest temple in Tokyo and is undoubtedly the one most loved by Tokyo locals.
Did You Know?
There is an interesting anecdote about the Sei-Kannon statue in Sensoji Temple. According to the tale, in the year 628, a certain brother and sister were fishing at the Sumida River near the temple, and the statue was caught in their fishing net. The master of this brother and sister, Hajino Nakatomo, started to worship this statue. He then became a monk, rebuilt his residence as a temple, and spent the rest of his life taking care of the statue and the temple.