Located at the heart of Tokyo in Asakusa district, Asakusa Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Tokyo.
Situated at the right next to the lavish Senso-ji Buddhist temple at the very end of Nakamise shopping street, Asakusa shrine is the perfect place to see how Japanese Buddhist temples and Shinto shrine coexist in harmony and elegance one next to each other.
The Legend of Asakusa Shrine
Asakusa shrine, also known as Sanja-sama (Three Spirits Shrine) was founded by Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1649 honoring the three men who founded, established and constructed the Senso-ji Busshist Temple in which it was built next to.
Legends say that two fishermen brothers, named Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari, found a bosatsu Kannon (Buddhist Goddess of Mercy) statuette caught in a fishing-net in the nearby Sumida River on May 17, 628.
The third man, a wealthy landlord named Haji no Nakatomo, heard about the discovery of the Kannon statue and decided to built a small temple in which the statue will be consecrated in, and is now known as the Asakusa Senso-ji Temple.
Asakusa Shrine was built in order to enshrine these 3 men as deities for their part in the creation of Senso-ji temple.
Discover the Hidden Hikan Inari Shrine
Walking around the back of Asakusa Shrine, visitors can find an almost unknown ancient Inari shrine, which is still in its original form and is about 160 years old. According to the shrine legend, one of Asakusa Shrine local fire brigade’s wife fall ill. Worried about her health, he traveled to the Fushimi Inari-sha shrine in Kyoto to pray for her health.
On his return, his wife completely recovered from her illness and the following year he built a small shrine to show his appreciation to the gods. Shinmno Tatsugoro named the shrine Hikan Inari-sha. The name “hikan” in Japanese means “Success in Life”.
Asakusa Shrine Sanja Matsuri Festival (三社祭)
Asakusa Shrine is holding every year on the third weekend May the Sanja Matsuri Festival, which is one of the three largest Shinto festivals in Tokyo area. This particular festival is known as one of the wildest kind in all Tokyo festivals.
The festival main parades revolve around three portable shrines referenced in the festival’s name (Sanja means “three shrines” in Japanese), as well as traditional music and dancing.
These three elaborate, black lacquered-wood shrines are built to act as miniature, portable versions of Asakusa shrine. Decorated with gold sculptures and painted with gold leaf, each portable shrine weighs approximately one ton.
Enjoy Traditional Japanese Festival Like No Other!
The atmosphere around Asakusa district during the Sanja festival weekend is charged with energy. Thousands of people flood the streets surrounding the Senso-ji temple and Asakusa shrine. Flutes, whistles, chanting and taiko drumming (traditional Japanese drums) can be heard throughout the district all weekend.￼￼
Other spectacles that draw crowds are the Geisha and Taiko performances that take place at specific times throughout the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, Geisha wear their traditional outfits put on performances from 1pm to 3pm on the second floor of the Asakusa Kenban.
These performances have been ranked as one of the 10 best Geisha shows in Japan.
Explore Nakamise Shopping Street & Alleys
Visitors of Asakusa Shrine can enjoy one of Tokyo most famous traditional shopping streets. Just outside the shrine gate you can find hundreds of shops built along Nakamise, a street connecting the Kaminarimon (the big gate at the entrance to Senso-ji temple) and the Hozomon (the gate at the temple itself).
Many traditional Japanese food stalls fill the surrounding areas all year long.
How to Take a Rickshaw Tour of Asakusa?
One of the most interesting attractions around Asakusa Shrine is the guided tour on a Japanese rickshaw.
Right outside the gate and all around Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji Temple you will see many little black, two-wheeled vehicles with their iconic bright red-blankets and high-perch seats carried by rickshaw drivers dressed in traditional short, thick, wrap coats, tight cotton trousers, split-toed zori shoes, and often wearing a cone shaped black straw hats.
Rickshaw drivers usually speak good English and will enjoy chatting with you while riding around the district.
Basic Information of Asakusa Area
Address: 2-3-１ Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032
Tel: (03) 3844-1575
– ￼Take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line and get off at Asakusa Station.
￼- Take the Toei Asakusa Line and get off at Asakusa Station
￼- Take the Tobu Line and get off at Asakusa Station
￼- Take the Tsukuba Express Line and get off at Asakusa Station
Opening Hours: 24 Hours