Asakusa and Tokyo Sky Tree

One of Tokyo’s most colourful and famous temple is the Senso-Ji temple, located in the district of Asakusa. The story behind this temple goes as follows: In the 7th century, two brothers found a statue of goddess Kannon in the nearby Sumida river. They returned the statue back into the river, but it kept coming back to them one way or another. So, they built what we call today the Senso-Ji temple. This temple also happens to be the oldest temple in Tokyo.

The vibe of the Asakusa itself is also quite interesting. It used to be a famous entertainment district with a vibrant theater scene. While a lot of the entertainment district was destroyed by bombing during the World Wars, Asakusa still has an old town charm to it. You can pretty much explore the entire district by walking, or opt for one of the human-powered rickshaws called “jinrikisha”. The temple has two gates, of which the Kaminarimon Gate displays a famous red lantern at its entrance.

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   (The iconic red lantern which one sees in almost every travel brochure of Tokyo)

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    (A symbol of Asakusa, the Kaminarimon gate was built over a 1000 years ago)

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(The road that connects the Gate to the Senso-Ji temple is lined with shops of various kinds)

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 (The crowded shops sell traditional snacks, souvenirs and prayer items)

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  (Hozomon Gate – the second gate to enter the main temple area)

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   (The bright orange colour of the temple is meant to keep the evil spirits away)

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        (The main temple building, recently renovated in 2010)

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        (A five storied pagoda built by a military commander)

In order to revive the Asakusa area, a 634 meter tall tower was built to attract tourists and visitors. The sky tree also functions as a broadcasting tower now and is the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj-Khalifa. It also has earthquake proofing and can absorb 50% of the earthquake energy. The tower, while not as symbolic as the Tokyo Tower, is fast becoming a major attraction of Tokyo. In fact, it is so crowded, and the waiting lines are so long, that tickets have a time printed on them when you are supposed to come back in order to ascend the tower. Except for early mornings, it is almost impossible to just show up, purchase a ticket and be able to go up at the same time. There are various options to purchase the ticket, you could go 350m high or 450m high, albeit for a higher price.

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            (The sky tree, visible from nearby Asakusa district)

One good option of going to the Tokyo Sky Tree is to walk from Senso-Ji temple, cross the Sumida river and head east to the Sumida district where to Tokyo Sky Tree is located. Along the way, you will come across an odd looking structure on top of an office building. People have jokingly called it funny and somewhat unmentionable things on various forums, but the peculiar shape actually resembles beer. And the building belongs to the Asahi Beer company. An interesting render of beer indeed.

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               (The famous Asahi Beer company building)

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        (Sky Tree seen in the evening golden sunlight)

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                                      (Sumida River)

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                    (On top of the bridge crossing the Sumida)

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    (Walking through the backstreets in Sumida district)

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 (Looking up at the impressive 634m structure, second tallest in the world)

As there was an insane amount of crowd and wait time (2.5 hours!!) in the evening, I decided to skip going up to the observatory and instead headed back to Asakusa. The walk back was quite good, as the evening lights of the buildings were beautiful. Along the way, I came across a lantern shop on the street which had set up beautifully lit lanterns. It was around New Year’s day, and so there was a festive atmosphere in the neighbourhood.

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                           (Lanterns for sale on the streets)

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            (Beautifully lit Sky Tree Tower)

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                    (The Sumida area skyline lit up at night)

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Items: Asakusa/Senso-Ji temple (official site), Tokyo Sky Tree (official site)

Price: Price to visit Senso-Ji temple is free, Tokyo Sky Tree ticket is anywhere between 600 – 1500  or  1100 yen – 2500 yen

Location: Sensoji Temple: Asakusa, 2−3−1, Taito, Tokyo, Japan 111-0032.

Tokyo Sky Tree: Oshiage, 1−1−2, Sumida, Tokyo, Japan 131-0045  

Timings: Senso-Ji temple main hall 6am to 5pm (temple grounds always open)

Tokyo Sky Tree is open 8 am to 10 pm

Telephone: Senso-Ji temple +81 3-3842-0181

Tokyo Sky Tree +81 3-5302-3470

Type: Tourist/Entertainment/Religious

How to get there: For Senso-Ji temple, take the Ginza subway line to Asakusa station. Once at the station, walk 10 mins east.

For Tokyo Skytree, get to Asakusa station and walk, or get to Ueno station and take the SkyTree line. (details)

Language: Mainly Japanese.

Also visit: Various Tokyo attractions.

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