Asakusa Shrine

Japanese Shrine|Beautiful Japanese culture!| Asakusa Shrine


Do you know about Japanese shrines? Asakusa Shrine is located on the same grounds as Sensoji Temple. At 4T-AMKY, Teachers and Students write about Japanese culture, food, history, many spots to visit, and other stuff. Enjoy reading and knowing about deeper Japanese culture!

Asakusa Shrine


As mentioned in the previous “Komagatado Hall” article, the principal image of Sensoji Temple was raised in 628 by the brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Takenari, who were fishing around the mouth of the present-day Sumida River and caught in a net.

They asked a local expert, Haji no Manakachi, to look at it. They discovered that it was a statue of Kannon Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva Sho Kanzeon). Later, Mr. Haji changed his house into a temple, became a priest, and enshrined the statue of the Kannon Bosatsu that the brothers had found. That was the beginning of Sensoji Temple.

And on the east side of the main hall of Sensoji Temple, there is a shrine dedicated to the three main deities, brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Takenari and Haji no Manakachi, who were involved in the birth of Sensoji Temple. This is the Asakusa Shrine. It is believed that the three were enshrined as deities by their descendants during the late Heian and Kamakura eras.

It was initially called Sanja Gongensha, but was separated from Sensoji Temple due to the separation of Shinto and Buddhism during the Meiji Restoration, and was renamed Sanja Myojinsha in the first year of the Meiji Era. It was further renamed Asakusa Shrine in 1873. Even today, the shrine is still familiarly known as Sanja sama.

I knew that the Sanja Festival was held in Asakusa every year in May, as it is always reported on TV news, but I learned for the first time that sansha refers to the three persons who became the three deities that led to the birth of Sensoji Temple.

Until now, when I went to visit Sensoji temple, I did not realize that there was an Asakusa shrine. This time, I was surprised to learn that there really is a shrine right next to the main building of Sensoji Temple.

The current shrine pavilion was built in 1649 with contributions from Iemitsu Tokugawa and is designated as an important cultural property. It is a valuable wooden structure that survived the Great Edo Fire, the Great Kanto Earthquake, and the Tokyo Air Raid, and represents the early Edo era.

Compared to Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Shrine had fewer worshippers, and there was a quiet and peaceful atmosphere in the precincts of the temple. I was very impressed by the large guardian dogs welcoming us.

Precincts of Asakusa Shrine

The Sanja Festival is held every year on the third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of May. It is said that the way the Ujiko (shrine parishioners), who have the temperament of Edo (Tokyo) children, carry the portable shrine is vigorous, wild, and spectacular. I thought that I would like to see a brave and spectacular portable shrine procession at least once.