I was warned about temple burnout in Japan. Before visiting, I couldn’t image becoming numb to the historic beauty of shrines and temples. This was my first time travelling in Asia, so I hadn’t done the temple trails before. I also didn’t plan on visiting enough temples to put me at risk of burnout. I wasn’t in Tokyo for the temples, so I’d only planned to visit the Meiji Shrine and Senso-Ji Temple.
Little did I know, temples and shrines would be around every corner in Yanaka and Asakusa, as well as in Nishiazabu, where we were staying. Without even trying, we visited a number of temples and shrines in our first 48 hours.
Each site was beautiful and undoubtedly a very sacred space, but without a religious background to give individual sites meaning, I found my enthusiasm waning.
We visited the Meiji Shrine on our first day. On our second, we explored Northern Tokyo’s charming historic neighbourhoods like Yanaka which were dotted with temples and shrines. In the afternoon, we visited Ueno Park, home to more temples and shrines around every bend. As we finished the day in Asakusa, I have to admit that I questioned whether we should make the effort to visit Senso-Ji.
I’m so glad we still made time for Senso-Ji, despite being a little templed-out only 48 hours after arriving in the country. Even if you’re on the brink of temple burnout, don’t miss Senso-Ji!
Izakaya Bars around Senso-Ji
Senso-Ji is surrounded by buzzing, relaxed Izakaya bars. Before World War II, Asakusa was the nightlife precinct in Tokyo. These days, as the nightlife and entertainment has moved into more modern parts of the city. Asakusa is atmospheric but a little more chilled out than it was in its heyday.
I almost regretted eating before we came, because the Izakaya bars here looked so inviting. Overall, I found the hospitality in Japan to be incredible everywhere we ate. However, there were several restaurants and bars which I found too intimidating, which didn’t seem as open to foreigners.That’s totally fine with me – I don’t speak a word of Japanese, so I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to fitting in, but it was still nice to find an area where I’d feel comfortable walking into any of the izakayas.
Nakamise Dori Markets
The market stalls leading up to Sensō-Ji were mostly selling touristy trinkets such as Japanese-style fans and yukata (casual versions of kimonos). There were a few selling tasteful homewares or handcrafts, and more importantly, tasty snacks.
The towering Buddhist temple is magnificent. Illuminated at night, the glowing red temple pops against the bright blue Japanese night sky.
Senso-Ji is Tokyo’s oldest and most significant temple. It was built in 645, in honour of the Buddhist goddess Kannon. Like so much of Tokyo, it was destroyed in air raids during World War II and has since been rebuilt. Despite not being the original article, Senso-Ji hasn’t lost any of its magic.
Have you been to Senso-Ji? Where are the most beautiful temples or other sacred spaces that you’ve visited?