Asakusa: The Market Temple

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” – John 2:13-16

Growing up Catholic, I heard the story of Jesus furiously expelling the money-changers and merchants from the temple at least a few times a year in church gospels.

“Christ casts out the money-changers” by Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch.

The message was clear: Houses of worship are supposedly to be solemn and hushed places where people can speak to God in peace.

Sensō-ji temple is quite the opposite.

Sellers hawk overpriced gifts for tourists en route to Sensō-ji temple.

Sensō-ji is not only Japan’s oldest temple, it’s one of the most-visited spiritual sites in the world, with an estimated 30 million annual visitors.

It’s also one of Tokyo’s most-accessible shrines, just a short walk from a subway stop in Asakusa. All that foot traffic makes it irresistible for local merchants, who sell everything from traditional lanterns to t-shirts, stuffed animals, shoes, bags and hats.

On the day I visited a steady rain hadn’t put a dent in the mixed crowd of locals and tourists.

A giant lantern hangs beneath the temple gate, which was rebuilt in 1960 after a fire destroyed its predecessor. While most of the structures at Sensō-ji are reproductions, the area has been a religious site for more than 1,000 years.

The temple grounds are a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.


A shopping mall featuring eateries, gift shops and a sword smith.

7 thoughts on “Asakusa: The Market Temple”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey and photos with me. Looks as though you are having a wonderful journey in time. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos and story 🙂


  2. I thought opposite, Jesus kicked the people out of the temple, because they were cheating – not because they were selling stuff. We were just there, and we thought it was AWESOME, But I understand why you were thinking about that Bible verse. Hope you had a great time there.


    1. That may be, it’s been a while since I’ve read that passage. Hope you had better weather than I did while touring Asakusa! Still, the temple was well worth touring and it was cool seeing all the Japanese women who dress in traditional clothes for temple visits.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was there for several weeks in June and was staying with my brother in Roppongi. I see you guys have visited Sensoji and a lot of the awesome spots in central Tokyo. If you’re cat lovers, may I suggest the cat shrine at Setagaya? It’s peaceful, quiet and beautifully designed. I wrote about it in an earlier post here.

      I also wrote a post about Mt. Takao, which is about an hour from central Tokyo by train. The nice thing is there are several temples, plus a whole troop of Japanese macaques, aka snow monkeys.

      Are you guys still there?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No we just left but I definitely I’m going back because I loved it and staying longer next time. I am getting ready to retire with my husband very soon and we plan on taking long trips like you just did. a month here or there i do love cats and that cat shrine sounds incredible


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