About the Oldest Temple in TokyoAlthough it looks entirely new, the Sensoji Temple, or Senso-ji Temple, is the oldest temple in all of Tokyo. It was restored after its destruction in World War II, and the Japanese are proud of it and of its past, which symbolizes their resilience to the historical difficulties they have experienced.
Legend has it that two brothers built it, in 645. After returning the statue of goddess of mercy to the river, Bosato Kannon, they found themselves fishing the statue out of the river over and over again. A landlord who heard about it told the brothers excitedly about Buddha and they became dedicated Buddhists. The three built the temple and erected the statue of the Goddess, the one that the brothers kept fishing out of the river.
By the way, the three temple builders are buried today in the temple of Asakusa, which is named after them, "Hall of the Three Gods."
The current building at Sansoji Temple, in the Asakusa Quarter, is a reconstruction of the ancient temple, established here in the 7th century CE, also known as Asakusa Kannon, which was destroyed in World War II. Today, after a renovation that brought it back to its glory days, the 1,400-year-old temple stands on its original hill.
What is in the TempleAt the entrance to the temple you will see the gate of Kaminarimon, named for the local god of thunder. It is a large red gate, adorned with figures of the god of thunder.
In the courtyard of the compound look for the large incense vase, which stands outside. This vase has, according to belief, medicinal properties. Buddhist believe that the smell of incense is the air the gods breathed. Here you can see how using only hands, the Japanese lead the smell of incense towards their bodies. They aim at the diseased or painful area and hope for healing.
The main interest in the temple is the prediction of the future. For a small fee, you will be allowed pull a stick that looks like a long chopstick, with a prophecy that appears on it as a small painting. The painting on the stick can be compared to the painting on one of the wooden drawers in the temple. In the drawer there will be an explanation waiting for you, or a kind of prophecy about the fate that awaits you. A booklet with English translation can be obtained from the local monks in the compound. Those who have received a pink fate come out smiling and those who do not - tend to tie the prophecy to special threads that are waiting for this purpose nearby.
Next to the temple you will see Nakamise Street, where there are a variety of colorful stalls and shops where you can buy souvenirs and Japanese snacks.
TipsThe entrance is free, both to Sensoji Temple and to the large market adjacent to it.
Opening hours - Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.