The Japan Diaries: out on the town part 1 (Senso-ji Temple)steemCreated with Sketch.

in #travel4 years ago


Spring is in the air and the weather is getting warmer, which means it's a perfect time to emerge from hibernation and take some fun day trips around Tokyo! We did exactly that last weekend, with an action packed excursion to Asakusa to see Senso-ji Temple, followed by a boat cruise down the Sumida river to Tokyo's futuristic Odaiba district.

Asakusa is an old part of Tokyo, steeped in tradition and retaining a good deal of old-world charm despite being almost entirely destroyed in World War II & subsequently rebuilt. Senso-ji, dedicated to Kannon (the Buddhist goddess of mercy), is its main attraction and one of the most famous temples in Tokyo. My daughter had recently visited on a school field trip, so she was naturally eager to go back and share her experience with Mommy & Daddy in tow.

The Approach

When we emerged blinking into bright sunshine from the subterranean depths of Asakusa's local subway, I was surprised by the size of the crowd. People thronged the streets for as far as the eye could see. Many of them were obviously tourists come to see the sights.

People waiting to cross the main Kaminarimon Gate marking the approach to the temple.

Once through the large front gate with its impressive hanging lantern, we made our way down Nakamise-dori, a narrow shopping street lined with stalls selling all manner of Japanese souvenirs. It's probably one of the best places in Tokyo for foreign tourists looking to get their fill of curios to lug back home.

The constant stream of people made browsing the shops an uncomfortable experience so we didn't linger long.

A second, much larger gate waited for us at the end of the shopping street:

Will the crowds never end?

The true scale of this massive edifice only became clear as we drew nearer.

Flirting with Fortune

Beyond the inner gate, a courtyard of sorts sprawled out to either side. Before proceeding to the central building, we paused to perform an essential temple-going rite: getting our fortunes told.

This is done by selecting a random slip of paper, called omikuji, that has the fortune written on it. First you pay ¥100 as a "donation" to the temple (there is no way to prevent people from cheating on this; visitors are assumed to be honest - and I sure wouldn't want to risk bad karma from not paying). After plunking down a coin, you shake a metal container and withdraw a slim wooden stick labeled with a number.

My wife & daughter about to discover which fortune they've chosen.

On the wall, dozens of tiny drawers contain the actual omikuji. The number on the end of the wooden stick indicates which drawer to take your fortune from. Fortunes can range from great to horrible, with several intermediate shades in between those extremes.

This being a major temple of international renown, the fortunes had an English translation (which isn't always the case). My daughter was lucky enough to get a favorable fortune.

A close-up of the English translation so you can read it better.

Luck was not with my wife, however: she got one of the bad fortunes. But never fear, bad fortune can be dispensed with by tying it to a nearby rack, thereby transferring it away from your person. At the end of the day, priests collect the discarded omikuji and burn them all in a cleansing ceremony.

Japan is a country of convenience; there's even a convenient way to get rid of ill fortune!

The heart of the temple

Pressing onward, we reached the central temple building, consisting of a grand hall with a painted ceiling covered by scenes of mythological settings & creatures. I was most impressed by the fearsome dragon looking down on the milling crowd. At the very center of the hall, people tossed coins into the temple coffers and bowed their heads in prayer before a tableau of glittering Buddhist artifacts. The whole place made me feel very tiny & insignificant.

The central hall looms over Senso-ji's inner courtyard.

The grandeur of the central hall took my breath away. Take note of the dragon on the ceiling.

A close-up of one of the ceiling paintings.

This is as close as I dared to get to the central place of worship.

After touring the temple, we had a break for lunch before walking to the nearby waterfront and the next phase of the day's adventure. But that tale will be for next time. I'll stop here for now, and leave you with this irresistible caricature we found outside an artist's shop along the way:

Does he ever not look pissed off at somebody?

Links for more info

Previous entries in my Japan Diary series:
     SteemImg Hanging out with the ghosts of GeGeGe no Kitaro

     SteemImg Strolling around Showa Kinen Park

     SteemImg A Kawasaki Halloween

     SteemImg Shopping in Kawagoe

     SteemImgWishing you a Merry Christmas

     thumb6.jpgA visit to Tokyo Skytree

Wikipedia article on Senso-ji:

This site gives travel instructions if you want to take a trip here yourself:

For more posts about cryptocurrency, finance, travels in Japan, and my journey to escape corporate slavery, please follow me: @cryptomancer


Image credits: all images in this post are photos taken on my iPhone.

Achievement badges courtesy of @elyaque . Want your own? Check out his blog.


Hey, I love reading and seeing everything japan related. I am trying to find all the japan bloggers here on steemit. following along now. Cheers!

Glad you enjoyed reading it! I haven't had much time to produce new content lately, but hope to have more posts coming soon.

No worries. I have been to Sensoji temple and your images look like not much has changed with the crowds and tourists. We did go one evening late after all the shops closed. We were able to take photos with nobody around and the temple was all lit up. It was nice. Anyways. Looking forward to more. Cheers @cryptomancer

The spirit of these pictures os just unbeliveable. The old and new meet together..

That's one thing I really like about living in Japan. Tokyo is such a unique juxtaposition of high tech marvels and old world charm. It still fills me with a feeling of awe even after being here for more than a decade.

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So cool! The temple must have been awe-inspiring in person. Thanks for posting!

It was quite impressive, the pictures don't do it justice. Glad you liked the post!

Trump painting is so hilariously well made! :D Looking forward to see more of your Japan stories, you're doing a great job.

Thanks, glad you liked it. Yeah, that Trump painting really cracked me up!

Lol, that Trumps picture :D I like a lot Buddhist culture, interesting photos, are you planning some new articles, with some pictures for example?

Yes, I hope to write another Japan Diary post soon. I've been so busy I haven't had much time for posting lately. It's past time to get another one up, for sure. :-)

Wonderful diaries about Japan. Can't wait for our family trip to Japan end of this year....

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my adventures. Hope you have a great trip! What part of Japan are you planning to visit?

I've not plan anything yet. Booked the ticket for 28 days. Will definitely spend a few days in Hokkaido as my sons want to go for the ski.

28 days, nice! I've never been to Hokkaido but hear the skiing there is excellent. Your sons should love it.

@cryptomancer Thank you for sharing that beautiful story with your family in Japan. I have been in Japan a few times and I loved the blossoming cherrie trees besides the art work and also the food. I even cooked vegan food at a temple in Japan.

My pleasure, Japan is a fascinating country and I enjoy being able to share it with people through Steemit. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom earlier this month; that's one of my favorite times of the year. So fun to go to the local park and take in the view! I bet cooking at a temple was an interesting experience. It's great you've had the chance to enjoy Japan too!

@cryptomancer I love Japan and my experiences there. The Zen temples were very intense tough. I also love the amazing architecture using only wood and no metal. It is many years ago and I am sure it has changed. One day I will visit again!.Enjoy the cherry blossoms!

Hey,i love your post and i just followed you.Kindly follow back.

I'm glad you liked it and thanks for the support. Looks like you've been sharing some interesting stuff so I've followed you too.


Hehe, it would be awesome if everybody was this way!

@cryptomancer Very interesting to learn the customs of another country. Interesting travel and beautiful photos! Thank you! My dream is to visit Tokyo. I also have a lot of beautiful photos. I'll follow you, hoping for reciprocity

I'm glad you enjoyed the visual tour! Tokyo is definitely a great city to visit if you ever get the chance. I took a look at some of your posts; I especially like your recent nature pictures, very peaceful. Followed. :-)

Thank you! This photo of my village where I live. It Is Ukraine.

hey buddy merry christmas and happy new year ,God bless you :)

Hi @cryptomancer thank you for your lovely post will follow you to see more, I have been to China in 2015 and it was amazing never been in Japan would like to go from what I have seen here :)

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