posted on April 9, 2014

 

浅草寺 head

 

Senso-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It was built in 7th century to enshrine a statue of Kannon Bodhisattva found in the nearby Sumida River.

In Japanese Buddhism, Kannon has been worshipped as Goddess of Mercy who has a great power to help people from their sufferings, so, for more than a century, Kannon in Senso-ji Temple has attracted a great number of worshippers including not only common people but also military leaders of the feudal age. In fact, Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, donated money to build the splendid Main Hall and other buildings.

Today, Senso-ji Temple is called the temple of common people and nearly 30 million people visit this temple every year from home and abroad.

 

 

 

浅草寺 本殿Main Hall 

The statue of Kannon Bodhisattva found in the Sumida River is enshrined inside, but worshippers aren’t allowed to see it. This Kannon is a hidden Buddha and it is believed that it gives power to people by concealing itself.

Inside the hall, worshippers put their hands together and pray, reciting “Namu Kanzeon,” which means “devotion to Kannon.” In Buddhism, the right hand is considered to be pure and the left hand is considered to be impure, and it is said that placing both hands together signifies one’s true self.

The temple’s monks gather at the altar to chant sutras three times a day: at 6a.m., at 10a.m., and at 2p.m., and their chants are worth hearing.

 

 

浅草寺 こうろIncense Burner (Koro)

Incense sticks are burned in this burner to be offered to Kannon.

In Buddhism, smoke coming from incense sticks is considered to be the breath of Buddha.

Worshippers move this holy smoke to any part of their body that may need healing, hoping for the help of Kannon.

 

 

 

浅草寺 五重塔Five-story Pagoda

This 53-meter-high pagoda was reconstructed in 1973 in the original architectural style after being repeatedly destroyed by fire.

The latest earthquake prevention equipment is installed in it, and a small quantity of Gautama Buddha’s ashes is kept on the top floor.

It is said that each story of a Buddhist pagoda symbolizes the earth, water, fire, wind and air from the bottom upward. This suggests a Buddhist teaching that we return to the five elements of the universe after we die.

 

 

 

 

 

浅草寺 ほうぞうもんHozo-mon/Treasure House Gate

This gate used to be called Nio-mon. Deva Kings called Nio stand on either side and protect the temple. The Diva King on the right stands with his mouth open, which looks as if he’s uttering the sound “Ah,” while the Dive King on the left stands with his mouth closed, which looks as if he’s uttering “Uh.” “Ah” is the first sound in the Sanskrit phonetic system, and “Uh” is the last sound, so it is believed that these Diva Kings signify the entire lifespan of a human being.

Hozo-mon is divided into three compartments inside, and Buddhist treasures such as sutras are kept on the two top floors.

 

ほうぞうもん あ

Diva King with his mouth open

ほうぞうもん ん

Diva King with his mouth shut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

浅草寺 わらじBehind Hozo-mon, the enormous pair of straw sandals are hung on on the walls.

They were offered to Kannon Bodhisattva by people in Murayama City, praying for long life and Kannon’s mercy.

They weigh 400kg each and are 4.5m in length and 1.5m in width.

 

 

 

 

Kaminari-mon / Thunder Gate

雷門

 

This gate is not only the symbol of Senso-ji Temple but also the landmark of Asakusa. The present thunder Gate was rebuilt in 1960 owing to the donation from Matsusita Konosuke, the founder of Panasonic.

In the center, there is a huge paper lantern, and it’s 4m high with the diameter of 3.4m and it weighs 670kg.

On the left is Raijin, the Thunder God, and on the right is Fujin, the Wind God.

The Thunder God is carrying drums which make thunderclaps, and the Wind God is carrying a big sack which is filled with winds.

Japan is often influenced by natural phenomena, and people in old times had awe of nature, so these gods of natural origin have been created through history.

 

 

Senso-ji Temple is located in Taito Ward, Tokyo.

It’s about 5-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express Line, the Tobu Skytree Line, and the Tokyo Metro Ginza Subway Line. It’s about 5-minute walk from Exit A4 of Asakusa Station on the Toei Asakusa Subway Line.

 

Map

スクリーンショット 2014-04-09 14.39.22