Despite the awful weather, I set out to explore some of Tokyo on my first full day in Japan. I had planned to do more, but my feet got a little soaked, forcing me to move into my apartment a few hours earlier than scheduled.
As it was the nearest tourist destination to my hotel, I headed for Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. This is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, dating back to 628. However, it was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt afterwards. The temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon (Guanyin).
Next to Sensoji is the Shinto Asakusa shrine, which I didn’t realize was separate from the temple.
I wandered around the neighborhoods outside Asakusa station before going to the temple, mostly because I had no idea which direction the temple was. It’s a nice neighborhood with a lot of narrow streets, restaurants, and shops. Had I entered the temple from the front entrance instead of the side, I would’ve encountered a pedestrian mall, which was sheltered from the rain but didn’t really help me dry off.
Inside the main hall, where most of the crowd was gathered to get out of the rain, is the shrine to Guanyin. Off to the sides are fortune sticks–visitors shake the canisters while praying and accept the fortune from the first stick to come out (and there are English translations for the fortunes). My fortune pretty much said that I have to work to have luck, so no dumb luck is coming my way.
One of the main features that draws the tourists to Sensoji Temple is the five-story pagoda. It is a beautiful sight, and would definitely make for better photos if I could’ve stood outside without needing shelter.
On the way back out the main gate, there’s a pair of giant straw sandals. Most tourists get their photo taken below the sandals when it isn’t raining.
I’m sure the crowd would be more manageable during drier weather, instead of everyone huddled under shelter, making it a bit more difficult to maneuver through the temple and streets. Nonetheless, it was a worthwhile trip that made me miss not packing my old boots (it took two days for my shoes to dry out).