Friday, March 15, 2013

Senso Ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine

If you are coming to Japan for a trip and plan on spending some time in Tokyo, chances are you will find your way to this temple and shrine.

Detail on the side of the Senso Ji.  In case you are wondering, here is a good explanation of the swastika.
Asakusa district is one of the biggest tourist areas in Tokyo.  It is surrounded by outdoors malls full of tourist shops all full of the same souvenirs.  There are also a few nearby shrines, plenty of good restaurants, karaoke bars and even a small amusement park.  

Souvenir shops are still closed in the early morning.
I have been to visit Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji Temple many times during my time living in Japan.  But by far, the best time was this last January.

Tokyo is the biggest city in the world based on population.  This teeming megalopolis is home to 13,000,000 people.  It gets crowded.  Add a bunch of commuters, visitors, and tourists and the result is city crowded enough to drive anyone crazy. 

Because of the major crowds, I suggest you visit popular temples and shrines as early as possible-as soon as they open is desirable.  Dragging yourself out of bed on a chilly morning might be difficult, but the crisp cool air, quiet, and lack of bustling crowds make it worth the annoyance a thousand times over.  

The entrance to Senso Ji early in the morning.  By mid morning, it is packed with people.

The first several times I visited Sensoji Temple, we came mid-day.  It was insane every time.  So crowded you could not move individually-you became a part of a crowd that had to move in unison.  Not for the claustrophobic.  When we went this year to get our omikuji-this year’s fortune-we woke up very early and walked the few blocks from the youth hostel at which we were staying.  We were at the temple at about six am. 

It was stunningly quiet and serene in the light of dawn.  The only thing to be heard was the Buddhist monks chanting from within the temple.  

The temple all decorated for the new year.

Definitely worth the early start. 

And afterwards, nothing beats an early morning cup of coffee and some fat pancakes at a nearby cafe.  

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  1. Nice. Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul early (before 7 a.m.) is always much more enjoyable than even two hours later.

  2. Sensoji Temple is one of the must see sights in Tokyo and an amazing experience. We usually stay in the Asakusa area when we travel to Tokyo and love the vibe and atmosphere of this old part of Tokyo.