Asakusa is a big district of Tokyo, situated to the east of Ueno, on the bank of the Sumida River. The Asakusa area is famous for its countless shops, cinemas, nightclubs, and recreation centers.
History Of Sensoji Temple
The historical center of the district is Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo.
According to the legend, in 628 two brothers were fishing in the Sumida River and caught the statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. They tried to put the statue back into the river but each time it returned to them.
The village headman decided that it was a divine sign and 17 years later the temple to Kannon was built. During the centuries, the temple was reconstructed and enlarged more than once. Today Kannon ensemble consists of 10 buildings and occupies quite a big territory.
Current Sensoji Temple
The modern main temple and standing nearby a five-tiered pagoda are the exact copies of the buildings destroyed during the air raids of World War II. Inside the temple, where mysterious semi-darkness reigns, the lavishly decorated altar Gokudzi with the statue of the goddess shines.
Kannon is one of the most respected and loved goddesses of the Buddhist pantheon. She symbolizes boundless kindness and mercy towards all suffering. Three main gates – Kaminarimon, Nitemmon, and Hodzomon – also have been recently restored. The main gate Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) is decorated with a huge red lantern that has become the symbol of the temple.
On the right, the God of the Wind, and on the left, the God of Thunder, guard the entrance to the temple. The Nakamise Street, leading from Kaminarimon Gate to the main hall of Sensoji Temple, is especially popular with the tourists.
Famous Stalls Leading To Sensoji
There a variety of shops of all kinds are situated. Even the name of the street is translated as “among the shops”. Here one can buy everything from traditional Japanese souvenirs to confectionary and spicery.
Asakusa district is famous for numerous festivals and celebrations that are regularly held there.
Sanja Matsuri Festival At Sensoji
Sanja-Matsuri, the festival of Sensoji Temple, is the most important among them. As well as the overwhelming majority of traditional celebrations, it is a festive procession along the streets, accompanied by singing and dancing.
Other Festvals In Asakusa
In July, in Asakusa, the annual festival of Japanese flowers Hozuki-Ichi is held.
In the middle of December, around the temple and on its premises there is a grandiose fair of Japanese arts and crafts – Hagoita-Ichi.
Hagoita is a traditional colorful wooden racket that is used in hanetsuki (traditional Japanese New Year’s game, something like badminton). Originally, hagoitas were rather simple but since the Edo period, they have been lavishly ornamented and used as a decoration or present.
Famous kabuki actors and beautiful noble Edo women are traditionally painted on hagoitas but nowadays you can buy hagoitas with the portraits of popular singers and sportsmen.
In November, in Asakusa, a relatively new, but already very popular holiday Tokyo Jidai Matsuri commemorates the history of Tokyo and Edo culture is celebrated. The colorful procession proceeds along the streets around Sensoji Temple, representing the famous plots from the city history. But the most popular festival is a summer parade of fireworks on the Sumida River. Annually about one million people come to enjoy the unforgettable enchanting spectacle.