About Sensoji Temple | Detailed explanation of history and overview

🕓 2024/4/27

Detailed explanation of the history and overview of Sensoji Temple


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table of contents

  1. Overview of Sensoji Temple
  2. History of Sensoji Temple
  3. Places to see at Sensoji Temple
  4. Festivals and events at Sensoji Temple
  5. Access to Sensoji Temple


Sensoji Temple is known as one of the oldest temples in Japan and is located in Taito Ward, Tokyo. This temple is famous for its rich history, magnificent architecture, and colorful festivals and events held throughout the year. In this article, we will trace the history of Sensoji Temple and explore in detail the highlights of its beautiful grounds. We will also touch on the main festivals and events held at the temple, and introduce how to access the temple.

We aim to capture the appeal of Sensoji Temple from multiple angles and serve as a guide for visitors to better understand and enjoy this historic place. Through this article, I hope to convey the cultural value and beauty of Sensoji Temple. 



1. Overview of Sensoji Temple

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Sensoji Temple is located in Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo, and is also known as Kinryuzan Sensoji Temple. This temple, built in 628, has the Bodhisattva Sho Kanzeon as its principal image, and is widely known as Asakusa Kannon. Sensoji is said to be one of the oldest temples in Japan, first recorded in historical documents during the Asuka period. It also has a history of becoming independent and becoming the head temple of the Sho Kannon sect.

The history of Sensoji Temple has seen many reconstructions, and during the Edo period it was fiercely protected by Tokugawa Ieyasu. After that, although it suffered several fires, it was rebuilt in 1642, and the current five-storied pagoda and main hall were established. Since the Meiji period, the precincts have been maintained and today it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan.名称未設定のテ?サ?イン-1

As a tourist destination, many people visit the shrine every year, and it ranks among the top 10 in Japan in terms of the number of visitors, especially during the New Year's visit. There are many attractions such as Kaminarimon and Hozomon (Niomon), and it also holds a wealth of cultural assets. For example, the Lotus Sutra (a national treasure) and the wooden statue of Nitenmon are famous. The area around Sensoji Temple is also known for its lively shopping streets and traditional events.


2. History of Sensoji Temple

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The history of Sensoji Temple dates back to 628, during the Asuka period, when brothers Hinoki Hamanari and Takenari pulled up a statue of the Bodhisattva Sho Kanzeon with a net while fishing in the Miyato River (present-day Sumida River). . Taking this event as an opportunity, Haji Nakachi renovated his home and turned it into a temple, and since then, Sensoji has become a place of worship.

In 645, the Katsumi people built Kannondo on this land and designated the principal image as a hidden Buddha. This later became the foundation of Sensoji Temple. In the mid-Heian period, Taira Kimiga contributed to the rebuilding and expansion of the temple, further increasing its scale and authority.

During the Kamakura period, Minamoto no Yoritomo visited Sensoji to pray for victory in battle, and after the Battle of Genpei, Sensoji gained fame as one of the Bando Thirty-Three Kannon Sacred Sites. In the Edo period, Tokugawa Ieyasu took over Sensoji Temple and underwent many reconstructions and expansions, further increasing its status.

Of particular note is the postwar reconstruction. Many of the buildings, including the main hall, were destroyed by fire during the Tokyo air raids of World War II, but after the war it was rebuilt as a reinforced concrete structure and is still loved by many people to this day.


3. Places to see at Sensoji Temple


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Kaminarimon is the symbolic entrance to Sensoji Temple and is loved by many tourists for its history and beauty. Kaminarimon was originally built for the first time in 941, but it was destroyed by fire many times after that, and was finally rebuilt in its current form in 1960 with a donation from Konosuke Matsushita (founder of Panasonic). This gate has statues of the God of Wind and the God of Thunder, representing the gods of wind and thunder, respectively. These statues are a combination of a head made in the Edo period and a body made in the Meiji period.

Another feature is its huge lantern. This lantern is 3.9 meters high, 3.3 meters in diameter, and weighs about 700 kilograms. The lanterns are renewed regularly and are made by craftsmen in Kyoto. Especially when there is a big event, lanterns are raised to allow tall objects to pass through.



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Hozomon is the inner gate of Sensoji Temple and has the role of storing important cultural properties. This gate was rebuilt in 1964 and is approximately 21.7 meters high. On the left and right of the gate are statues of Agata and Ugata Kongorikishi, which are said to be the guardian deities that protect the temple. Additionally, behind the Hozomon Gate, there is a large waraji that is said to have the effect of amuleting evil spirits. This waraji was dedicated by Murayama City, Yamagata Prefecture, and its size and presence catch the attention of many worshipers.

Hozomon was originally called Niomon, but when it was rebuilt in 1964, a storage room was built to store scriptures and temple treasures, so it changed to its current name. A large lantern with the words ``Kobune-cho'' hanging from the gate was dedicated in 1659 by the believers of the Nihonbashi Kobune-cho fish market.


Everlasting incense burner

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The permanent incense burner is installed in front of the main hall of Sensoji Temple, and it is said that worshipers purify their mind and body by covering themselves with the smoke rising from this incense burner. This custom is believed to be effective in warding off bad luck and avoiding disaster. The smoke that rises from the incense burner is said to purify the body when exposed to the smoke, and many worshipers can be seen waving their hands in front of the incense burner and applying the smoke to their bodies. Especially during the New Year and certain festivals, many people gather for this smoke. 


Five-storied pagoda

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The five-storied pagoda is a symbolic structure located within the precincts of Sensoji Temple, and its height is approximately 53 meters. This tower is located to the southwest of the main hall, and its beautiful exterior has been the subject of many photographs. On the top floor of the pagoda are enshrined the Buddha's ashes, officially dedicated from Sri Lanka, which represent the ashes of Buddha. The five-storied pagoda is said to have a structure that is resistant to earthquakes, and has withstood many natural disasters throughout history.

The five-storied pagoda was rebuilt during the Showa period and has a steel frame and reinforced concrete structure. The pagoda is vast and houses several Buddhist statues, including the Bodhisattva Sho Avalokitesvara, but it is not open to the public.


Main hall

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The main hall of Sensoji Temple is located in Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo, and is an important temple that is loved by many worshipers. The main hall enshrines the Bodhisattva Sho Kanzeon as its principal image, and is also known as the ``Asakusa Kannon.'' Incense smoke rises from the incense burner installed in front of the main hall, and it is customary to purify the mind and body by wearing it around the body.

The building is made of reinforced concrete and was completed in 1958. The inside is divided into an inner hall (Naijin) and an outer hall (Gejin), and the outer hall has a plaque with the words ``Shi Muhi'' written on it. In the inner sanctum, the secret Buddha, Sho Kanzeon Bodhisattva, is enshrined, as well as various Kannon statues and guardian Buddha statues.

The design follows the traditional Japanese style, and its magnificent structure impresses many worshipers. In addition to the daily rituals held in the main hall, many events are held throughout the year, especially the Kannon festival on the 18th of every month, which is crowded with many believers.



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Also known as Nitenmon or Niomon, this gate is located at the entrance to Sensoji Temple and is an important structure that protects the path to the main hall. The name of this gate comes from the two Nio statues (Vajra Rikishi statues) that stand on either side of the gate. These statues are said to protect the temple from evil forces, and are characterized by their powerful facial expressions and muscular bodies. It is said that many worshipers feel purified both physically and mentally by passing through this gate.



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Eikodo is one of the important halls on the grounds of Sensoji Temple, and is known as a place to pray for the souls of the deceased. Memorial services are held here several times a year, and many people offer prayers for the souls of the deceased. Due to its calm atmosphere and location surrounded by the surrounding nature, Eikodo is a suitable place to quietly reflect on the past and renew your hopes for the future. Especially if you visit during the quiet hours of early morning or evening, you will be able to feel the spirituality more deeply.


Nakamise Street

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Nakamise Dori is a shopping street that stretches approximately 250 meters from Sensoji Temple's Kaminarimon to Hozomon, and is said to be one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan, dating back to the Edo period. This street was formed as the number of worshipers at Sensoji Temple increased, and now there are 89 shops. The shopping street offers a wide variety of traditional Japanese souvenirs and foods, and there are many long-established stores that have been around since the Edo period. Particularly famous products include Kaminariokoshi, Asakusa nori, rice crackers, and Ningyoyaki.

This shopping street is very popular with tourists and is crowded with people all year round. There are many take-out gourmet restaurants along the street where you can enjoy eating while walking, and it is recommended as a way to enjoy sightseeing. It is also recommended to visit Nakamise Street with its shutters closed at night, as many stores have beautiful pictures depicting Asakusa's annual events on the shutters that are lowered after closing, allowing you to enjoy a different atmosphere than during the day. can.


4. Festivals and events at Sensoji Temple

The main festivals and events held at Sensoji Temple include the following.

Setsubun party

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Setsubun-e at Sensoji Temple is held on February 3rd every year, and is especially famous for its bean-throwing event. In this event, a procession takes place from Denpo-in to the main hall, followed by a bean-throwing ceremony by Toshio from a special stage set up on the east side of the main hall. When throwing beans, they don't say ``Oni wa soto'', but rather say ``Banzai Sensai Fuku wa uchi''. This is based on the idea that ``there are no demons in front of Kannon'' at Sensoji Temple.

At the Setsubun-e, one of the three major temple dances of Sensoji Temple, ``Fukuju no Mai (Mai of the Seven Lucky Gods)'' is performed, providing cultural enjoyment to the many visitors. It is also known that many celebrities participate in this event, making the bean-throwing event very colorful.


Golden Dragon Dance


Kinryu no Mai is a special event held at Sensoji Temple on March 18th every year, and is named after the mountain name of Sensoji Temple, Kinryuzan. This dance was started in 1958 to commemorate the rebuilding of the main hall, and is closely related to the Kannon statue that symbolizes Sensoji Temple. A golden dragon, approximately 18 meters long and weighing approximately 88 kilograms, is paraded around the shrine grounds by eight dancers. This dragon is protected by a lotus bead at its head, and the dancers display advanced techniques that finely coordinate their movements to make the dragon appear alive.

This event commemorates the vision of Kannon and is known for deeply moving worshipers, and its spectacular performance has received high praise from many tourists and local residents.


White Heron Dance

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The Shirasagi no Mai is a traditional event held at Sensoji Temple in spring and autumn. This event was started in 1968 to commemorate Tokyo's 100th anniversary, and is based on the festival procession described in Sensoji Temple's Keian Engi Emaki. Participants wear costumes from the Heian period and perform a beautiful dance imitating a white heron. Dancers parade around the shrine grounds, playing various roles such as bait throwers, warriors, and musicians.

This dance is especially performed on the second Sunday in April, Sanja Festival in May, and Culture Day on November 3rd, providing a great opportunity to experience the beautiful traditional culture of Sensoji Temple. The Shirasagi Dance is loved by many tourists and locals for its beauty and historical significance, and is one of the highlights of a visit to Sensoji Temple.


Sanja Festival

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The Sanja Festival is a large-scale festival held in Asakusa, Tokyo every year on the third weekend of May, centered around Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Shrine, and Kusakari Inari Shrine. This festival is characterized by the passing of gorgeous mikoshi (portable shrines) carried by local parishioners, and is considered one of the three major festivals in Tokyo.

The festival is held over three days from Friday to Sunday, and the city of Asakusa is engulfed in a traditional festival atmosphere. The main event is the ``Town Mikoshi Rengo Togyo,'' in which about 100 mikoshi are paraded through the town. This is a spectacular event where you can see each neighborhood association carrying their proud mikoshi and parading through the streets of Asakusa. Another highlight is the ``miyairi'' process of the mikoshi returning to the shrine.


5.  Access to Sensoji Temple

Located in the heart of Tokyo, Sensoji Temple is easily accessible by many public transportation options.

Access by train
The most convenient The only way to get there is by train. The nearest station to Sensoji Temple is Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, and Kaminarimon is about a 5-minute walk away. It is also about a 5-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Toei Asakusa Line, and can be accessed from multiple lines. Furthermore, if you use Asakusa Station on the Tobu Skytree Line, you can also reach Kaminarimon in just a few minutes on foot.

Access by car
Although it is possible to visit by car, the Asakusa area is generally prone to traffic congestion, so public transportation is recommended. If you are driving, it is common to use a nearby coin parking lot, but it is expected to be crowded, especially on weekends and during festivals, so it is best to arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Other information
For bicycles and motorbikes, there is a parking lot nearby, but please be careful as it can get very crowded. Also, the area around Sensoji Temple is often a pedestrian paradise, so please take this into consideration when accessing the area.。





Through this article, we delved into Sensoji Temple's rich history, beautiful architecture, and various festivals and events held throughout the year. I hope I have been able to convey in detail what kind of place this ancient temple is and its charm for all those who visit.

When visiting Sensoji Temple, this information will help make your trip richer and more meaningful. See and feel this historic place with your own eyes and experience the unique culture and history of Sensoji Temple.