Asakusa, Sensoji temple
Sensoji is located in Asakusa Station in northeastern Tokyo and can be accessed by the Asakusa Line or the Ginza Line.
Kaminarimon, thunder gate
Kaminarimon, thunder gate of Sensoji temple, is a landmark of Asakusa. The present thunder gate was rebuilt by a donation from Konosuke Matsushita , founder of Panasonic in 1960.He is said to be suffered from arthritis of knee, but recovered by visiting Sensoji temple.
When you path through the gate you can find Dragon hidden on the bottom of lantern. Dragon is believed to be the god of water and protect the temple from fire.
Many visitors touch the dragon to get the benefits.
Nakamise Shopping Street
Nakamise, one of the oldest shopping streets stretches roughly 250 meters from Thunder gate to the second gate, Hozomon. The street is filled with about 89 stores selling Japanese traditional souvenirs.
Here you can find such gifts like folding fans, beckoning cats, and Japanese kimonos. During the Edo period, visitors to the temple increased. The surrounding neighborhoods were then allowed to open various stores on the condition that they would clean the temple grounds. This is said to be the origin of Nakamise.
Asakusa Picture Scroll on shutter, Nakamise
Why not take an evening stroll down Nakamise street of Sensoji temple? When the shops start to close, the beautiful Emaki (picture scrolls) appear on shutters instead.
In 1992, some artists gathered under the direction of a famous Japanese artist named Ikuo Hirayama and painted on the shutters of Nakamise shops. Various artworks include the Sanja festival, senko hanabi sparklers, cherry blossoms, and other beautiful scenery that embody the Edo atmosphere.
Sanja Festival, Asakusa
One festival that flows with the spirit of the Edo period is the Sanja festival. It is held on the third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of May. Many locals and tourists gather to see the various dances performed in the area around Asakusa shrine. It’s about this time of year that Shitamachi Asakusa becomes the liveliest.
Local Asakusa people wear Japanese happi coats and work together to hold up the portable shrines named Mikoshi on their shoulders. They parade the surrounding neighborhoods while swinging the Mikoshi and vigorously shouting “Wasshoi! Wasshoi!”.
Origin of the Sanja Festival
The word “Sanja” refers to the three shrines that were deified to the three people who were involved in the origin of Sensoji temple.
According to legend, two brothers fished the statue of Kannon Bodhisattva out of the Sumida river. They continuously attempted to put the statue back in the river only for it to miraculously return every time.
So the two brothers visited the master of the village.
“What are we to do with this statue?”
To which the master replied.
“This is the honorable and merciful statue of Kannon Bodhisattva. She should be worshiped.”
He then went on to worship her at his own house. The temple was later built to deify Kannon Bodhisattva.
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