Sensoji Temple in the oldest quarter of Tokyo, Asakusa, was built in 628 AD in order to store the gold statue of the bodhisattva goddess Kannon (the Goddess of Mercy). This is one of the most respected Buddhist temples. For centuries it has drawn the attention of numerous pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Numerous believers do not even care that the temple and its five-story pagoda are just concrete copies of the original temple. It is believed that the smoke that rises from large aroma lamps set before the temple has a healing power.
The impressive Kaminarimon Gates (the gates of thunder) are known for their huge red paper lanterns and scary statues of the guard. The path to the temple is dotted with small shops selling traditional sweets and souvenirs. During the Edo period the center of the city (Shitamachi) was located here, and so streets, shops and restaurants, located around the church, have retained the atmosphere of the old times. Every year, on the third weekend of May Asakusa hosts huge Sanja Festival. During this event hundreds of Mikoshi (portable Shinto shrines) are brought along the streets of the district, accompanied by a noisy and crowded festive procession.
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