Tokyo Series: Exploring Asakusa’s Shrines

“It’s one of my favorite districts in Tokyo.” Ejii-chan said.

Asakusa is a captivating district situated in the heart of Taito City. It boasts an intriguing blend of the old and new that coexist in perfect harmony, providing visitors with an exceptional opportunity to delight in the charisma of old Tokyo while still relishing in modern amenities. The main street leading to the central Senso-ji Temple is a vibrant thoroughfare that is flanked by towering Shinto temples, izakayas, and shops. The street is always buzzing with a mix of locals and tourists who converge to pay homage to the Shinto gods and immerse themselves in the area’s sights and sounds.

Asakusa’s history is steeped in rich culture as Tokyo’s entertainment district, with many of its historic buildings dating back to the Edo period. Sadly, the district was severely damaged during World War II due to air raids, which necessitated its reconstruction. Despite no longer being the city’s primary entertainment hub with the rise of Shinjuku and Harajuku, Asakusa continues to captivate visitors seeking to experience its exclusive blend of ancient and modern culture.

We embarked on a short yet exciting train ride from Toyocho and arrived at the district. As we stepped out of Asakusa Station, we were immediately struck by the stunning architecture and cultural vibrancy of the area. Our attention quickly turned to the towering Senso-ji temple, which loomed in the distance, beckoning us to come closer.

As we made our way towards the temple, we stumbled upon an inviting oden restaurant. With our stomachs growling, we couldn’t resist the temptation and decided to stop by for a quick bite. The aroma of the hot broth and the sizzling skewers filled our noses as we eagerly dug into our delicious meal, energized and ready to continue our excursion.

As we arrived at Senso-ji, we were greeted by the shrines and the peaceful atmosphere. The air was filled with the aroma of incense, and the muffled sound of people chatting and taking photos echoed throughout the area. We proceeded to explore and capture the beauty of everything around us. While strolling around, we stumbled upon an o-mikuji shrine, where Ejii-chan and I decided to try our luck.

How to draw your fortune from an O-mikuji:

  1. Offer 100 yen into the shrine’s box as an offering.
  2. Pick up the hexagonal canister containing wooden sticks inscribed with numbers in kanji. Shake it well and pick a stick from the hole under the canister.
  3. Match the number of the stick to the number inscribed on drawers.
  4. Open the drawer and pick the topmost paper from it.
  5. If you picked a good fortune, keep that sheet of paper.
  6. On the other hand, if you’re unlucky and picked “bad fortune”, which happened to me, by the way, roll the paper lengthwise and tie it to the racks beside the drawers.
  7. Offer a prayer to the Shinto gods for thanksgiving.

We delved deeper into the walls of Senso-ji and strolled around its well-trodden paths, taking in every sight and sound that surrounded us. We were enveloped by a peaceful atmosphere perfumed with the scent of burning incense as we approached the dimly lit temple. We then bowed our heads in prayer, silently taking in the beauty and history of the shrine. I turned to Ejii-chan and asked her to show me the proper way to pay respect before I offered my own prayers.

We took the exit at the Nitenmon gate where we started the first step to our next destination — the towering Tokyo SkyTree.

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