Situated in Taito, Asakusa was an entertainment district from Edo Period until about 1945 when the are was heavily damaged because of the bombings in the end of World War II. The Buddhist Temple dedicated to Bodhisattva Kannon, or Goddess of Mercy, built in 628 and the landmark of Asakusa, Sensoji Temple, was successfully restored after the war and has regained its old glory ever since. Nonetheless, the rest of the rebuilt area has lost its popularity for being an entertainment district.
But it’s not a bad sign at all. Instead, if you are looking for concentrated traditional elements in the middle of Tokyo, Asakusa is the perfect destination because most buildings aged older than 50 years gather in the area. I admit, it’s my favourite district in Tokyo.
So, what’s up with 5 pm? 5 pm is the closing time of Sensoji Temple. When punctuality in Japan is indisputable, the giant gates started to block floods of people who struggle to get in in the last minute. My friend ran as fast as she could to reach the stairs to the temple until spine ankle problem struck her, but still didn’t make it. Me neither, especially I was a few meters behind her. I’ll give you some hints on how to visit Asakusa in the last minute in the end of this post.
This is where travellers are put to the test to make a quick decision, to think about how to enjoy the famous tourist spot from a different angle. Honestly, it’s not so hard to find beautiful spots and objects I didn’t initially think of outside the oldest temple in Japan. Especially when sakura is blossoming.
Here’s the collection of my photography capturing all activities outside the temple from 5 pm until the closing time, that might give you some ideas what you could do if you were in my position. The best thing here? Free entrances for all sites!
BEFORE THE SUN GOES DOWN….
Right outside the gates of Sensoji Temple, people still can pray here after 5 pm, but not beyond this point
Apparently, pink sakura tree are not as many as the nearly white ones. Take a picture with it is a must. If you wear kimono, that will be an advantage, like this woman for instance.
Therefore, it is mandatory to immortalize pink sakura in close range
Kanon Bodhisattva bronze statue was made in 1720 by Konuma Nagamasa, a caster from Kanda, Tokyo. The names of people who donate for the statue are carved on it.
The 5-storey Pagoda, whose height is 52.32 meters.
Strollers are apparently not only for babies. If you love animals, especially dogs, you will be able to spot them with their proud owners several times a day. More dog pictures I captured in Japan, click here
Explore Asakusa with a rickshaw is another lovely thing to do, if you are willing to pay ¥4000 per ride. Bargaining isn’t really the culture in Japan
Shin-Nakamise shopping street. The stores continue outside. Everything was okay until a drunken guy took a picture of us for no reason far behind this building.
AFTER THE SUN GOES DOWN
When sunset is over, this is how Sensoji Temple looks like in the evening…
… and still a lot of worshipers line up for their turn.
Time to draw Omikuji, or written fortune. Shake the box gently several times while making a wish. A stick will come out, mentioning the drawer number you need to open. Memorize the number and put the stick back to the box.
Open the drawer according to the appointed number mentioned on the stick. Take out the paper and read it. That’s your fortune telling.
If the fortune telling tells you good stuff, keep it.
Otherwise, hang it here. Keep calm, don’t be sad. You can always carve your own future and don’t let a piece of paper justify your destiny.
Who says acting like a tourist is a bad thing? Kimono never fails to mesmerize everyone, so dying to pose with the locals wearing kimono is completely understandable
See I told you, spotting another cute dog is not a hard job at all. Look at this spider-pug! More dog pictures I captured in Japan, click here
Time to go home. But wait… an art exhibition is about to start….
… on rolling doors! Yes, it’s simply unthinkable to find remarkable illustrations on rolling doors in extreme cleanliness! A very inspiring way to keep the area pretty even when it’s not in operational hours.
And so the rest of these 3 illustrations (and many more I didn’t capture)….
Kaminari Gate (Kaminarimon). The gate is never closed, always crowded with people posing below the giant lantern
Unconventional architecture of Asakusa Tourist Information Center
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: HOW TO VISIT ASAKUSA IN THE LAST MINUTE
Sensoji Temple, like many other temples, have earlier closing hours at 5 pm (opens at 6 am. 6.30 from October to March) than souvenir stores, food stalls, Kaminari Gate (Kaminiarimon) and Asakusa Shrine. So, if you are dying to be inside the temple and so the rest of the area properly, but you only can manage to come 1 or 2 hours before its closing time, here’s my advise:
- Don’t get easily distracted by food stalls, shopping streets, and Kaminarimon at first. Directly go to Sensoji Temple that takes about 10 minutes walking distance from Kaminarimon
- Shopping streets and food stalls usually close between 7 pm and 8 pm. So you can catch this later if you don’t spend way too long inside Sensoji Temple.
- You’ll have plenty of time capturing Kaminarimon because it never closes, but always crowded with people posing below the giant lantern. So you can do this later when you’re about to leave Asakusa area.
- Asakusa Shrine always opens as well. You can capture this quickly, especially it’s situated close to Sensoji Temple.