Exploring the old town of Asakusa

Asakusa is one of the first precincts I saw in Tokyo, when I first visited Japan about 20 years ago. I think I originally went there on the recommendation of my highschool Japanese teacher. In any case, I've been there a few times now, and it always feels like a very familiar part of Tokyo when I see it.

It's got a lovely old-town, traditional feel to it, and is home to a number of historic Buddhist temples. The Asakusa Kannon Temple, or Sensoji, is perhaps the most well known (and photographed), and I was pleased to see that nothing had really changed when I visited earlier this week.

According to a local fact sheet, Sensoji Temple is Japan's oldest Buddhist Temple "for ordinary people". Inside the complex there are permanent stalls, which sell handmade sweets, rice crackers and other local delicacies, and all sorts of traditional Japanese souvenirs and gifts.

The grounds of Sensouji Temple (HDR'd)

Worshippers flock into Senoji Temple, Japan's oldest public Buddhist Temple
One of the things you can do in the complex, is have your fortune "told", for a mere 100 Yen (or AUD$1.20). When in Japan, do as the Japanese do, right??

So, there is a tin, which you are instructed to "shake politely". A long skewer with a number (written at one end in Japanese symbols) falls through the hole. You match the number on the skewer to the corresponding box on the wall (there are probably 100 or so boxes), slide the box open, and take one sheet of pre-printed paper - this is your fortune. The fortunes are graded from "Excellent Good Fortune", to "Regular", to what we gathered was "It's all Turning to Shite Fortune". Mum and I chose the first two, respectively, and were quite happy to leave it at that.

After you've read your fortune, you tie it to one of the nearby metal bars. Not sure of the significance of leaving it there, but we did as everyone else (locals and tourists alike) was doing, had a giggle and headed off to look for lunch.

You too can have your fortune read at the Temple

Pick a trinket, any trinket! Stalls in the Sensoji Temple complex


  1. Japan is definitely one of the places in asia that i would like to travel. It is very rich in culture and has lots to offer tourist. I love sushi and I want to taste it in authentic japanese restaurant.

  2. Hi Brad,

    Japan is an awesome place to visit - and the best place on the planet to try sushi! Hope you get there at some stage!