Sensō-ji

Last updated
Sensō-ji
浅草寺
Cloudy Senso-ji.jpg
Religion
Affiliation Buddhist
Sect Shō-Kannon (independent school)
Deity Shō Kannon Bosatsu
(Āryāvalokiteśvara)
Location
Location2-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tokyo
CountryJapan
Japan location map with side map of the Ryukyu Islands.svg
Red pog.svg
Shown within Japan
Geographic coordinates 35°42′53″N139°47′48″E / 35.714722°N 139.79675°E / 35.714722; 139.79675 Coordinates: 35°42′53″N139°47′48″E / 35.714722°N 139.79675°E / 35.714722; 139.79675
Architecture
FounderKaishō
Completed645
Website
www.senso-ji.jp

Sensō-ji(金龍山浅草寺,Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a five-story pagoda, Shinto shrine, the Asakusa Shrine, [1] as well as many shops with traditional goods in the Nakamise-dōri [2]

Tendai is a Mahayana Buddhist school established in Japan in the year 806 by a monk named Saicho also known as Dengyō Daishi. The Tendai school rose to prominence during the Heian Period of Japan, gradually eclipsing the powerful Hosso school and competing with the upcoming Shingon school to become the most influential at the Imperial court. However, political entanglements during the Genpei War led many disaffected monks to leave and in some cases to establish their own schools of Buddhism such as Jodo Shu, Nichiren Shu and Soto Zen. Destruction of the head temple Mount Hiei by warlord Oda Nobunaga further weakened Tendai's influence as well as the geographic shift of Japan's capital to Edo away from Kyoto.

Sect followers of a particular religious or ideological doctrine

A sect is a subgroup of a religious, political, or philosophical belief system, usually an offshoot of a larger group. Although the term was originally a classification for religious separated groups, it can now refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and principles.

Buddhism World religion, founded by the Buddha

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.

Contents

The Sensoji Kannon temple is dedicated to Kannon Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of compassion, and is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million visitors annually. [3] [4]

Guanyin East Asian deity

Guanyin or Guan Yin is the most commonly used Chinese translation of the bodhisattva known as Avalokiteśvara. In English usage, Guanyin refers to the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion and venerated chiefly by followers of Mahayana Buddhist schools as practiced in the sinosphere. Guanyin also refers to the bodhisattva as adopted by other Eastern religions such as Taoism, where she is revered as an immortal, as well as Chinese folk religions, where the mythical accounts about Guanyin's origins do not associate with the Avalokiteśvara described in Buddhist sutras.. In English, she is often known as the "Goddess of Mercy" or the Mercy Goddess. The Chinese name Guanyin, is short for Guanshiyin, which means "[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World". In Nepal Mandal Guanyin is worshipeed as Jana Baha Dyah, Karunamaya, Seto Machindranath.

The temple has a titanium tiled roof that maintains the historic image but is stronger and lighter. [5]

History

The temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokiteśvara). According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in 628 by two fishermen, the brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari. The chief of their village, Hajino Nakamoto, recognized the sanctity of the statue and enshrined it by remodeling his own house into a small temple in Asakusa so that the villagers could worship Kannon. [6]

Bodhisattva in Buddhism, a being who has developed a  spontaneous wish and a compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings

In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is any person who is on the path towards Buddhahood but has not yet attained it.

Avalokiteśvara Buddhist deity embodying compassion

Avalokiteśvara or Padmapani is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is variably depicted, described and portrayed in different cultures as either male or female. In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezik, and in Cambodia as "អវលោកិតេស្វរៈ". In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has evolved into the somewhat different female figure Guanyin. In Japan this figure is known as Kanzeon or Kannon. In Nepal Mandal this figure is known as Jana Baha Dyah, Karunamaya, Seto Machindranath.

Sumida River Japanese river which flows through Tokyo

The Sumida River is a river that flows through Tokyo, Japan. It branches from the Arakawa River at Iwabuchi and flows into Tokyo Bay. Its tributaries include the Kanda and Shakujii rivers.

The first temple was founded in 645 AD, which makes it the oldest temple in Tokyo. [7] In the early years of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu designated Sensō-ji as tutelary temple of the Tokugawa clan. [8]

Tokugawa shogunate Last feudal Japanese military government which existed between 1600 and 1868

The Tokugawa Shogunate, also known as the Tokugawa Bakufu (徳川幕府) and the Edo Bakufu (江戸幕府), was the last feudal Japanese military government, which existed between 1603 and 1867. The head of government was the shōgun, and each was a member of the Tokugawa clan. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castle and the years of the shogunate became known as the Edo period. This time is also called the Tokugawa period or pre-modern.

Tokugawa Ieyasu Founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan

Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shōgun in 1603, and abdicated from office in 1605, but remained in power until his death in 1616. His given name is sometimes spelled Iyeyasu, according to the historical pronunciation of the kana character he. Ieyasu was posthumously enshrined at Nikkō Tōshō-gū with the name Tōshō Daigongen (東照大権現). He was one of the three unifiers of Japan, along with his former lord Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

A tutelary is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of "tutelary" expresses the concept of safety, and thus of guardianship.

The Nishinomiya Inari shrine is located within the precincts of Sensō-ji and a torii identifies the entry into the hallowed ground of the shrine. A bronze plaque on the gateway structure lists those who contributed to the construction of the torii, which was erected in 1727 ( Kyōhō 12, 11th month). [9]

<i>Torii</i> traditional Japanese gate

A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred.

Kyōhō Japanese era

Kyōhō (享保), also pronounced Kyōho, was a Japanese era name after Shōtoku and before Gembun. This period spanned the years from July 1716 through April 1736. The reigning emperors were Nakamikado-tennō (中御門天皇) and Sakuramachi-tennō (桜町天皇).

During World War II, the temple was bombed and destroyed during the 10 March air raid on Tokyo. It was rebuilt later and is a symbol of rebirth and peace to the Japanese people. In the courtyard there is a tree that was hit by a bomb in the air raids, and it had regrown in the husk of the old tree and is a similar symbol to the temple itself.

Temple grounds

The temple ground of Senso-ji Sensoji 2012.JPG
The temple ground of Sensō-ji

Sensō-ji is the focus of Tokyo's largest and most popular festival, Sanja Matsuri. This takes place over 3–4 days in late spring, and sees the surrounding streets closed to traffic from dawn until late evening.

Dominating the entrance to the temple is the Kaminarimon or "Thunder Gate". This imposing Buddhist structure features a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red-and-black tones to suggest thunderclouds and lightning. Beyond the Kaminarimon is Nakamise-dori with its shops, followed by the Hōzōmon or "Treasure House Gate" which provides the entrance to the inner complex. Within the precincts stand a stately five-story pagoda and the main hall, devoted to Kannon. [10]

Many tourists, both Japanese and from abroad, visit Sensō-ji every year. Catering to the visiting crowds, the surrounding area has many traditional shops and eating places that feature traditional dishes (hand-made noodles, sushi, tempura, etc.). Nakamise-Dori, the street leading from the Thunder Gate to the temple itself, is lined with small shops selling souvenirs ranging from fans, ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), kimono and other robes, Buddhist scrolls, traditional sweets, to Godzilla toys, t-shirts and mobile phone straps. These shops themselves are part of a living tradition of selling to pilgrims who walked to Sensō-ji.

Within the temple itself, and also at many places on its approach, there are o-mikuji stalls. For a suggested donation of 100 yen, visitors may consult the oracle and divine answers to their questions. Querents shake labelled sticks from enclosed metal containers and read the corresponding answers they retrieve from one of 100 possible drawers.

Within the temple is a quiet contemplative garden kept in the distinctive Japanese style.

Nakamise-dōri

Nakamise-Dori at night Nakamise dori.jpg
Nakamise-Dōri at night

The Nakamise-dōri(仲見世通り) is a street on the approach to the temple. It is said to have come about in the early 18th century, when neighbors of Sensō-ji were granted permission to set up shops on the approach to the temple. However, in May 1885 the government of Tokyo ordered all shop owners to leave. In December of that same year the area was reconstructed in Western-style brick. During the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake many of the shops were destroyed, then rebuilt in 1925 using concrete, only to be destroyed again during the bombings of World War II.

The length of the street is approximately 250 meters and contains around 89 shops. [11]


See also

Notes

  1. "Sensō-ji". GoJapanGo. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  2. "Sensoji Temple - Tokyo Travel Guide | Planetyze". Planetyze. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  3. http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-most-visited-sacred-sites
  4. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/07/national/asakusa-paints-traditional-tokyo-popular-light/#.WNrv7nTyut8
  5. "Nippon Steel pitches roof tiles made of titanium". The Japan Times Online. 2009-05-25. ISSN   0447-5763 . Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  6. Davis, James P. (September 2001). "Senso-ji (Pure Land) Buddhist Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan". University of South Carolina. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  7. World's greatest sites Archived 2008-03-18 at the Wayback Machine accessed May 2, 2008
  8. McClain, James et al. (1997). Edo and Paris, p. 86.
  9. McClain, p. 403.
  10. "Senso-ji Temple (Kinryuzan Senso-ji) Guide". World Travel Guide. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  11. Asakusa-Nakamise: History of Nakamise.

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References