When I visited Tokyo in the fall of 2017, Senso-ji was one of the few main temple that was not under renovation for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Something to keep in mind if you’re planning to visit before then.
Located in the Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo, the path that leads to the main entrance of the Senso-ji temple is Kaminarimon. It’s also known as the Thunder Gate, which is adorned with a colossal paper lantern that’s painted vibrantly in red and black ink.
Past the Thunder Gate is Nakamise-dori, or “inside street”, a path lined with almost 100 small shops. You’ll find souvenirs like fans, kimonos, woodblock ink, Buddhist scrolls – even Godzilla toys and t-shirts! The shops that line this path were destroyed in 1923 during the Great Kantō earthquake, rebuilt in 1925 and then destroyed again during World War II.
senso-ji at dusk
As one of Japan’s oldest temples, Senso-ji attracts locals and visitors year round. Regardless of when you go, there will always be throngs of people. Despite the crowd, I found the temple most beautiful at dusk. This is when golden lights turn on, complementing and illuminating the vivid red of the temple. Even on a gloomy day, Senso-ji is radiant.
Next stop: Tokoyo Skytree
Senso-ji dates back over one and a half millennium. It amazes me that Tokyo has preserved this remarkable part of history while also leaving a new mark with the Tokyo Skytree – the tallest structure in all of Tokyo. With Senso-ji on the left of the Sumida River and Tokyo Skytree on the right, these two landmarks are a short 20 minute walk from each other.