I will remember fondly a few things from Asakusa: the amazing Sensoji Temple is the finest place of worship in Tokyo, and the street food sold along Nakamise-dori on the way in to this temple is incredible! I even found the fabled Tokyo Banana!
Asakusa is one of the more popular districts of Japan’s capital city, Tokyo. Although once an entertainment district much like Shinjuku or Odaiba are today, Asakusa is now perhaps most famous for its Buddhist shrine, the Sensoji Temple. Geisha can be seen walking the narrow streets around here, perhaps looking to entertain somebody. I was not sure if these were real geisha or just the novices.
Leading up the main temple around here is a narrow street known as Nakamise-dori, where you will find a market selling all kinds of traditional Japanese street food. I always like to tickle my tastebuds when in a foreign land and it just so happens that much of Japanese cuisine is among my favourites, especially takoyaki.
One thing I was not expecting when I came to Asakusa was to discover the market stalls selling Osenbei, which are basically chocolate bananas. These are known all over the world as “Tokyo Bananas”, although I have no idea why. They are a local sweet delicacy and are quite hard to find abroad, even in places like Singapore where you’d expect everything to be sold somewhere! I bought three, and spent the rest of the day trying to burn off the calories!
Built in 645AD, Sensoji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and is located nearby the Sumida River. In fact, legend has it that two fishermen found a statue of Kannon in the Sumida River and even though they kept throwing the statue back in the water it always returned to this very place in Asakusa. Thus, the Sensoji Temple was built to honour this fact. You can see in the photo above (and below) the Kaminarimon Gate and the huge chochin lantern hanging beneath it. This is the main entrance to the Sensoji Temple, where after a narrow street with souvenir stalls and vendors called Nakamise will lead you to the temple’s second gate, known as the Hozomon Gate. Beyond this is the temple’s main hall and the five-storied pagoda.
I thought the five storied pagoda was the most photogenic part of the Sensoji Temple complex. I got some good photos of it in the clear Spring skies. It was also impressive to stand inside the main hall. I had been to the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and the main hall there was somewhat underwhelming, but here at Sensoji there was a real atmosphere and I think the other visitors around me felt the same. I regret that I did not take any photos of the interior, which can be a sign that I was too engrossed with that I was looking at with my own eyes!