Monday, November 17, 2008

Japan: Sensō-ji Temple in the Asakusa District (Taitō, Tokyo)

Asakusa, for most part of the 20th century, was the major entertainment district of Tokyo. Today however, other colorful districts such as Shinjuku have taken over. We trooped to Asakusa to visit the famous Sensoji Temple, said to be the oldest in Tokyo. We went straight there after we checked out from the youth hostel which was just a station or two away.

Sensoji Temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon, more popularly known Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. The entrance to the temple is called the Kaminarimon or "Thunder Gate." On the gate is a massive paper lantern painted in vivid red-and-black tones suggesting thunderclouds and lightning. It's a very popular and important temple obviously gauging from the crowds we saw there.

After the gate is a long row of souvenir shops. The street is called the Nakamise-dori where one can find a great selection of souvenir items and food. I enjoyed the many snack items on sale and bought some for tasting. These shops themselves are part of the heritage of the area having sold to pilgrims who walked to Senso-ji since the 18th century. The street is about 250 meters and has close to 90 shops.

After walking around the temple grounds, we had a late lunch at one of those vendo restaurants. You selected and paid for your food through a vendo machine and gave the printed out ticket to the staff who serve as both cooks and waiters. It's efficient really and it keeps costs down since minimal manpower is needed to run the place.

Anyway, after lunch, we proceeded back to the youth hostel to get our luggage. Several of us were going back to Manila. While others were taking the 4 p.m. Shinkansen to Kyoto.

Part 1: Konichiwa from Tokyo, Japan!
Part 2: Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan
Part 3: Tokyo is a candidate city for the 2016 Olympics
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