Tokyo and its Surroundings
THE SENSOJI TEMPLE
Dedicated to the goddess of mercy Kannon, the temple was erected in the 7th century and constantly enlarged until today. According to legend, the construction of the first temple was inspired by the discovery by two fishermen of a statuette of Kannon in the waters of the Sumida River. Today the temple is one of the most famous places of contemplation in Japan.
The temple grounds are also home to a five-story pagoda believed to contain Buddha's ashes, as well as three famous gates each carrying a gigantic red lantern. These doors have become more famous, or at least more photographed, than the Sensoji temple itself.
Next to the Sensoji temple you can see the Asakusa shinto, shinto, dedicated to the two Hinomae brothers who discovered the statuette of Kannon as well as to the mayor of the time who is at the origin of the construction of the Sensoji temple. The shrine is not very big next to the Buddhist temple but is very important, mainly because it is the starting point of the Sanja festival which takes place every year in May.
All the buildings within the enclosure have been renovated or rebuilt many times throughout history. After the Second World War in particular the temple like the pagoda and the doors were destroyed by the bombardments then rebuilt little by little at the rate of donations.
The last Sensoji renovation took place between November 2009 and November 2010.
Nakamise Street is the most famous street in Asakusa. It is a large street that we take to reach the temple and in which a multitude of small traditional shops succeed one another, nearly a hundred, some of which have been open for nearly a century. They mainly sell food like bean paste filled cakes (ningyô yaki) or rice cakes (senbei), and all kinds of Japanese-style souvenirs. It can be a good place to find original gifts at an affordable price.
Perpendicular to Nakamise Street and around the temple, you can walk through other traditional-style shopping streets, and here and there discover an old cinema or cabaret that dates from the time when Asakusa was the district. of Tokyo entertainment.
THE FESTIVALS OR MATSURI
In Asakusa, dozens of festivals are organized each year. The most popular is the Sanja Festival which is one of the three biggest festivals in Tokyo and brings together around two million people every year. It takes place in mid-May and consists of transporting dozens of small portable temples (mikoshi) to Sensoji temple. At the end of August you can also attend a samba carnival and twice a year the dance of the golden dragon. For the New Year also hundreds of thousands of people come to the Sensoji temple to pray.