If you want to visit temples in Japan, most people will direct you to Kyoto where you’ll find plenty. However, if you’re only staying in Tokyo, you’d be missing out if you didn’t make the trip to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Although a very popular tourist spot, I loved walking around the Sensoji Temple and the surrounding Asakusa area. You’ll see plenty of locals partaking in various Buddhist practices, try a range of snacks at one of the numerous shops, and grab a souvenir or two before you leave.
How to get to the Sensoji Temple in Asukusa
The Sensoji Temple is incredibly easy to get to via subway, as it’s only a few minutes’ walk from Asakusa Station. Since Tokyo’s subway system is an actual mess (at least to those [like me] looking at the dozens of subway lines for the first time), I’d recommend just asking someone at the service counter for directions if you’re feeling a little lost. Or if you’re quite good at reading subway maps, just make your way towards the light red/pink Asakusa Line. Once there, take Exit 1. From here, it’s only a 5 minute walk to the Sensoji Temple.
What you’ll see
There’s much more than just seeing a temple and then leaving when you visit the Sensoji Temple. As Tokyo’s oldest temple, the Sensoji Temple is beautiful and you can find a few other smaller temples nearby if you wander around. When I was there, I saw plenty of locals who were partaking in a variety of worshiping rituals: a water fountain where people would take a cup of water and “wash their hands”, tying little notes onto a display rack, and opening and closing little drawers filled with items I couldn’t see (but I could certainly hear). Aside from the religious aspects, you’ll find a range of little food stalls and souvenir shops (surprisingly, the only ones I saw during my time in Tokyo) lined up along the cherry blossom-covered main walkway.
What you should eat
One piece of advice: come to the Sensoji Temple hungry. There are dozens of little food stalls around the temple and though I didn’t know what a lot of the snacks were, they were so cheap that I just tried whatever I thought looked good.
Melonpan (¥250) is a very simple, but oddly delicious street snack that’s basically a slightly sweet bread with a crunchy outside. The matcha and Hokkaido milk soft serve ice cream (¥350) was good, but admittedly I’ve had better. Finally, the red bean taiyaki (¥160) was probably my favorite snack of the day. I found this little stall just outside the main area in one of the shopping tunnels. You get to watch the taiyaki being made before, so you know they’re hot and fresh. Since I had my eyes on a bowl of ramen from Ippudo for dinner afterwards, I didn’t go too crazy on the snacks, but there were plenty more to choose from.
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo
Opening days: Everyday
Hours: 6:00 am – 5:00 pm (though the main hall is always open)
Entrance fee: Free