Complete Guide: Sensoji Temple (Taito, Tokyo)

Sensoji Temple (Taito, Tokyo) Shrines and Temples
Sensoji Temple (Taito, Tokyo)

Our “Shrines and Temples” category introduces Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Tokyo’s Shitamachi area (the area along and east of the Sumida River).  We select a must-see shrine or temple for your sightseeing in Tokyo.

In this blog post, we will focus on Sensoji Temple. Sensoji Temple is a Buddhist temple of the Sho-Kannon sect in Taito Ward, Tokyo.

Sensoji Temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, with about 1400 years of history. Asakusa Shrine is located on the northeast side of Sensoji Temple’s precincts. Until 1868, Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine were the same religious entity.

The principal image of Sensoji Temple is Sho-Kannon Bosatsu, the Goddess of Compassion. Her divine virtues have “secular benefits.” That is, if you sincerely pray for her, she will bring you various fortunes while you are still alive.

The official name of Sensoji Temple is “Kinryuzan Sensoji Temple” (Sensoji Temple of Golden Dragon’s Mountain). Locals call this Buddhist temple “Asakusa Kannon,” as it enshrines Sho-Kannon Bosatsu.

Sensoji Temple was built by Haji no Nakamachi. He converted his house into a Buddhist temple and enshrined a statue of Sho-Kannon Bosatsu there. Two local fisher brothers discovered this statue in the Sumida River in 628.

Sensoji Temple is a tourist spot that represents Tokyo. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 30 million people from around the world visited this Buddhist temple each year.

This blog post contains helpful information about Sensoji Temple, such as its history, highlights, and transportation options. Please refer to this blog post when you visit Tokyo’s Shitamachi area, especially the Asakusa area, for sightseeing.

This blog post is also available in Japanese. You can refer to it at the following link:


According to Sensoji Temple, its origin dates back to the 7th century. In addition, its history is closely related to that of Asakusa Shrine, a Shinto shrine next to Sensoji Temple.

Haji-no-Nakamachi Era

Around the beginning of the 7th century, there were two fisherman brothers, Hinokuma no Hamanari and Hinokuma no Takenari.

On March 18, 626, the Hinokuma brothers were fishing in the Sumida River. Then they found a Buddhist statue in the casting net. But they had no idea what it was.

The Hinokuma brothers showed the Buddhist statue to Haji no Nakamachi, an influential person in Asakusa. As a result, they found that this statue was Sho-Kannon Bosatsu.

Kannon Bosatsu, the Goddess of Compassion, changes into various forms to listen to our sufferings and wishes. Sho-Kannon Bosatsu is her original form.

The Hinokuma brothers and local people built a simple Buddhist temple to enshrine the statue of Sho-Kannon Bosatsu.

After that, Haji no Nakamachi entered the priesthood and made his home a Buddhist temple. He enshrined the statue of Sho-Kannon Bosatsu in the temple as its principal image. This is the origin of Sensoji Temple.

Shokai Era

In 645, a Buddhist monk named Shokai stopped by Sensoji Temple. He was traveling all over the country to practice Buddhism. He decided to stay at Sensoji Temple for a while.

In the same year, Shokai repaired the main hall of Sensoji Temple. In addition, he made the principal image of the temple Hibutsu, following the divine oracle from Sho-Kannon Bosatsu. Hibutsu is a Buddha statue that is not open to the public for religious reasons.

Since then, Sensoji Temple has been keeping its principal image in a box called Zushi, a small box representing a miniature temple. And no one can see it, not even monks at Sensoji Temple.

Ennin Era

In 857, a Buddhist monk named Ennin came to Sensoji Temple from Enryakuji Temple. He was a high-ranking monk also known as Jikaku Daishi.

Enryakuji Temple is the head Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect, located in present-day Shiga Prefecture. Ennin was the third Tendai-Zasu of Enryakuji Temple. Tendai-Zasu is the post that oversees the Buddhist temples of the Tendai sect.

Ennin carved a statue of Sho-Kannon Bosatsu as Omaedate. Omaedate is a Buddhist statue that is placed in front of the principal image, especially Hibutsu. Prayers will worship Omaedate instead of the principle image.

Sensoji Temple places this Omaedate in front of the Zushi, where the principal image is stored. The temple also considers this Omaedate to be Hibutsu. But this Omaedate is open to the public once a year, at 2 p.m. on December 13th of every year.

It is said that Ennin also carved the statue of Bato-Kannon Bosatsu at Komagata-Do Hall of Sensoji Temple. For more details about Komagata-Do Hall, please refer to the following blog post:

By the way, Ennin was also involved in the founding of Ushijima Shrine near Sensoji Temple. For more details about this Shinto shrine, please refer to the following blog post:

Taira-no-Kimimasa Era

It may be surprising, but a military commander who played an active role in the Taira no Masakado Rebellion was also deeply involved in Sensoji Temple.

n 935, the Taira no Masakado Rebellion broke out. Taira no Masakado, a local ruling family in the Kanto region, rebelled against the central government in Kyoto. He tried to establish an independent nation by occupying most of the Kanto region.

In 940, the central government in Kyoto suppressed the rebellion. And Taira no Kimimasa was one of the military commanders who contributed to the suppression. He was a cousin of Taira no Masakado.

In the same year, Taira no Kimimasa was appointed the chief governor of the Awa-no-Kuni Province for his contributions. The Awa-no-Kuni Province is the southern part of present-day Chiba Prefecture.

But Taira no Kimimasa was not happy with it. He wanted to become the chief governor of the Musashi-no-Kuni Providence, which is present-day Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture, and part of Kanagawa Prefecture.

In 941, Taira no Kimimasa prayed for his promotion at Sensoji Temple. In 942, he successfully became the chief governor of the Musashi-no-Kuni Providence. So he thanked Sensoji Temple very much.

At that time, Sensoji Temple was in ruins due to the Taira no Masakado Rebellion. Taira no Kmimasa devoted his efforts to rebuilding the temple.

Taira no Kimimasa built various buildings at Sensoji Temple, such as Komagata-Do Hall, Kaminarimon Gate, and Hozomon Gate. For more details about these buildings, please refer to the following blog posts:

Showa Era

In 1945, the Bombing of Tokyo burned most of Sensoji Temple. The main hall was rebuild in 1958, and the five-storied pagoda was rebuilt in 1973.

In 1950, Sensoji Temple was converted from the Tendai sect to the Holy Kannon sect. Therefore, Hashiba Fudoson Temple, the subordinate temple of Sensoji Temple, became the subordinate temple of Hieizan Enryakuji Temple of the Tendai sect. For more information on Hashiba Fudoson Temple, please refer to the following article:

Enshrined Gods and Their Blessings

Sho-Kanzeon Bosatsu (聖観世音菩薩)

  • Other names: Sho kannon (聖観音), Sho kanjizai bosatsu (聖観自在菩薩), Kannon bosatsu (観音菩薩), etc.
  • Divinity: A Buddhist goddess of mercy
  • Blessings: Secular benefits, hardship withdrawal, cure of diseases), calamity prevention, good fortune, etc.

Bato-Kannon Bosatsu (馬頭観音菩薩)

  • Other names: Bato kannon (馬頭観音), Mezu myoo (馬頭明王), etc.
  • Divinity: A Buddhist god of animal protection
  • Blessings: Calamity prevention, good health, animal protection, travel safety, etc.
  • Note: This god is enshrined at Komagata-do Hall.

Daikouten (大黒天)

  • Other names: Daikoku (大黒), etc.
  • Divinity: A Shinto/Buddhist god of food, wealth, etc.
  • Blessings: Prosperous business, economic fortune, huge harvest, successful career, matchmaking, etc.
  • Note: This god is enshrined at Yoko-do Hall.

Benzaiten (弁財天)

  • Other names: Ichikishima hime no mikoto (市杵島姫命), Sayori hime no mikoto (狭依毘売命), etc.
  • Divinity: A Shinto/Buddhist goddess of water, road, performing arts, etc.
  • Blessings: Household harmony, prosperous business, matchmaking, performing arts improvement, etc.
  • Note: This goddess is enshrined at Benten-do Hall.

Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来)

  • Other names: Yakushi ruriko nyorai (薬師瑠璃光如来), Daiio (大医王), etc.
  • Divinity: A Buddhist god of medicine
  • Blessings: Disease cure (especially eye diseases), good health and longevity, easy delivery, secular benefits, etc.
  • Note: This god is enshrined at Yakushi-do Hall.

Amida Nyorai (阿弥陀如来)

  • Other names: Amidabutsu (阿弥陀仏), Muryojobutsu (無量寿仏), Muryokobutsu (無量光仏), etc.
  • Divinity: A Buddhist god who guarantees peaceful afterlife
  • Blessings: Peaceful death, peaceful life, etc.
  • Note: This god is enshrined at Yoko-do Hall, Awashima-do Hall, and Denpoin Temple.

Kokuzo Bosatsu (虚空蔵菩薩)

  • Other names: Myojo tenshi (明星天子), Daimyojo tenno (大明星天王), etc.
  • Divinity: A Buddhist god of wisdom
  • Blessings: Academic achievement, memory improvement, clear-headed, prosperous business, performing arts improvement, etc.
  • Note: This god is enshrined at Awashima-do Hall.

Awashima Myojin (淡島明神)

  • Other names: Awashima no kami (淡島神), Awashima-sama (淡島さま), etc.
  • Divinity: A Buddhist goddess of female guardian
  • Blessings: Cure of women’s diseases, safe delivery, pregnancy, matchmaking, etc.
  • Note: This god is enshrined at Awashima-do Hall.


Komagata-Do Hall

Komagata-do Hall is located near the Komagata Bridge over the Sumida River. According to the temple, this place is where the Hinokuma brothers found the Kannon statue about 1,400 years ago. There used to be the main gate of Sensoji Temple in this place.

This Komagatado was first built in 942. After that, it has been repeatedly burnt down by the fire. The current hall was built in 2003.

Hayagriva (or Horse Head Kannon) is enshrined in Komagata-do hall. This Kannon has an angry expression and has a horse on her head. She crushes our anguish and evil with intense anger and eats up our worldly desires as horses eat glass.

Kaminarimon Gate

Kaminarimon Gate (the gate of thunder) is the main gate of Sensoji Temple. This gate is a symbol of Asakusa and the temple. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, this place was always full of people taking pictures with the gate.

The official name of Kaminarimon Gate is Furaijinmon Gate because the Fujin (a god of the storm) anThe official name of Kaminarimon Gate is Furaijinmon Gate because the Fujin (a god of the storm) and Raijin (a god of the thunder) are enshrined on both sides of the gate. This is because people prayed to protect Sensoji Temple from water disasters by enshrining these gods.

You also will notice the giant lantern hanging in the center of the gate. According to Wikipedia, this lantern is 3.9m high and 3.3m wide and weighs 700kg. You can’t miss a dragon carved on the bottom of the lantern.

There is a free observation terrace on the top floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center near Kaminarimon Gate. You can overlook the entire temple from this terrace, including Kaminarimon Gate, the main hall, and the fice-storied pagodas. We highly recommend trying this terrace when you get a chance.

Bentenyama Hill (Bentendo Hall and The Bell House)

Bentenyama Hill is a small hill to the southeast of the main hall of Sensoji Temple. Here you will find Bentendo Hall enshrining Benzaiten and the bell tower called Toki-no-Kane (the bell of time).

Benzaiten is the only goddess of the Seven Lucky Gods. She is responsive to good luck, financial fortune, and performing arts. Benzaiten is often depicted as a young woman, but Sensoji Benzaiten is white-haired. Therefore, it is also called the older woman Benten.

Benzaiten at Sensoji Temple is known as three Benten of the Kanto region of Japan, along with Enoshima Benzaiten in Kanagawa Prefecture and Fuse Benzaiten in Chiba Prefecture. Also, Yoshiwara Shrine, which is in the neighborhood of Sensoji Temple, enshrines Benzaiten. This shrine is quite popular with young women. For more information on Yoshiwara Shrine, please refer to the following article:

Every morning at 6 o’clock, the monks at Sensoji Temple ring the bell of time to tell the city of Asakusa the morning as a part of their religious practices. You can observe this ritual, of course. After that, it is also interesting to take a walk in the precincts where there are few people.

The Lighting-up

Sensoji Temple (Taito, Tokyo)
Sensoji Temple (Taito, Tokyo)

Since 2003, Sensoji Temple lights up its buildings in the evening. This includes the main hall, the five-storied pagoda, Kaminarimon Gate, and Hozomon Gate. The light-up time is usually from sunset to 11:00 pm, and it’s subject to change. For example, they light up until 4:00 am during Tokyo Olympics 2020.

It is a masterpiece that lights illuminate the historic buildings. Even if you are not into taking photography, you’ll definitely want to take some.

The Seven Lucky Gods of Asakusa (Daikokuten)

Sensoji Temple enshrines Daikokuten of the seven lucky gods, a Shinto god of economy and business. Therefore, you can expect prosperous business, economic fortune, successful career, and other benefits by worshipping him.

Daikokuten at Sensoji Temple is one of the Seven Lucky Gods of Asakusa. The Seven Lucky Gods of Asakusa refer to the seven lucky gods enshrined at nine Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Taito Ward and Arakawa Ward of Tokyo. Therefore, making a pilgrimage to these nine sites is one good example of enjoying the Asakusa area.

For more information about the Seven Lucky Gods of Asakusa, please refer to the following article:

Other Useful Information

Opening Hours

  • From 08:00 to 17:00


  • 03-3842-0181


  • Asakusa 2-3-1, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032

Google Map

Public Transport (Train)

  • 7 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
  • 7 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Toei Subway Asakusa Line.
  • 7 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line.
  • 10 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express Asakusa Line.

Public Restroom Availability

  • Yes. There are several restrooms available in the precincts. There also are some on the Nakamise Streets.


Pure Land in AsakusaASAKUSA KANNON SENSOJI Official Webste
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