Written by Shirley T
Monday, 12 April 2010 00:00
Five Story Pagoda and Main Hall are the two ultimate destinations at Sensoji Temple.
Most visitors would pass through Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), then a stretch of energetic shopping street - Nakamise dori before Hozomon or Treasure-House Gate. To the Left of Hozomon, an impressive and eye-catching sight is the Five Story Pagoda - the icon of Sensoji or Asakusa Kannon Temple.
Sensoji Temple's Main Hall is right ahead after Hozomon. During our last visit, the main hall was undergoing a major renovation and covered by scaffolding. The works are scheduled to be completed by the end of November 2010. Despite of that, the temple ground and the interior of the main hall still welcome visitors and devotees.
Both the Five Story Pagoda and Sensoji Main Hall were built in 942 by military commander Taira no Kinmasa but they were destroyed by fire. In 1648, both structures were rebuilt by Tokugawa Iemitsu together with Hozomon. In 1911, Five Story Pagoda was declared as national treasure unfortunately, temple ground was burned down again during World War II in 1945. Five Story Pagoda was reconstructed in 1973 and top floor houses the relic of Buddha.
Main Hall was rebuilt in October 1958 and the architecture was designed to mirror the original style but structurally reinforced with concrete and covered with titanium roof tiles. Occupying a ground of 1500 square-meter, the main hall consists of an inner sanctum laid with tatami mats and the outer sanctum - the concrete floor.
The episode of Sensoji Main Hall began in 645 when a renowned Buddhist priest Shokai visited Asakusa and built a hall for worship. One night, a mysterious dream led Shokai to keep the statue of Bodhisattava Kannon from human view and remains so since then. If you visit the Main Hall today, the secret Bodhisattava Kannon statue is kept in the rear chamber of inner sanctum and the duplicate statue carved by Ennin is displayed at the front chamber.
Regardless the fact that Sensoji is a Buddhist temple, some of the rituals are believed inherited from Shinto practice. Observe the devotees' routine and be amazed with unique rituals such as folding prayer paper, writing prayers on wooden plaques, rubbing incense smoke onto one's head and drinking the water from the dragon head's faucet.
Get off at Asakusa subway station (Ginza Line or Tobu Line), 100 m walk towards west along Kaminari Mon Street.
Opening Hours: Main hall from 6:00 to 17:00 (from 6:30 from October to March)
Temple grounds: Always open (365 days)
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