Senso-ji Temple is the oldest in Tokyo, first founded in 645 AD and rebuilt several times, the last being after it was bombed in World War II. A Buddhist temple, it is the most-visited religious site in the world, with over 30 million visitors per year. People come to visit dressed ceremonially in kimonos and traditional dress, as you can see in the first two photos. It is the only place in the city where we saw kimonos being worn, although we saw many for sale. There was a note on one kimono on the sidewalk that it was polyester, for $28 US, but you needed to go inside to see the real silk kimonos. These lovely people were more than happy to pose for us when we requested a photo.
So, we thought we were at the temple, and took photos of the structure in the third photo. But this is just the Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, offering entrance to the temple. It is adorned with a red lantern and statues of four gods. Next is the Five-Storied Pagoda, the second-highest in Japan, which houses some of Buddha’s ashes on the top floor, which were given to Tokyo by the government of Sri Lanka as a symbol of friendship with Japan.
After that, at last, is the Senso-ji Temple. A large incense burner is at the front, with a vendor selling bundles of incense for people to burn for their own intentions. Following is a photo of the gold interior of the temple, but it was not open today to the public. After that is a photo of the Chozuya, the purification fountain that is found at all Shinto and Buddhist shrines. There are specific instructions for washing your hands, and you can see that the plaque warns not to drink from the ladle. It is proper to pour water into your hand, swish it in your mouth, and spit it onto the rocks (not back into the fountain). Many people were doing this, mostly locals. The foreigners watched.
The next photos are of Nakamise Shopping Street, which has existed for centuries as the lead-up to the temple. You can buy anything here, mostly snacks and souvenirs. We loved the brightly colored ice cream cones and their flavors/names! You can also buy masks, ice cream burgers (we assume someone looked up the translation for an ice cream sandwich, and the word burger came up….great idea!), vinegar juice…all sorts of enticing sounding delights! There is the pizza and pasta joint that advertised that it has English speaking staffs, but apparently they aren’t the ones who wrote the sign!
Also, take your trash home! We saw gorgeous pink peonies that looked like fragile paper….so very pretty, we had to photograph them. And, all of you guys who are reading…the last photo gives you your perfect pick-up line…or does it? Wait…..Duh.