I wonder how many Tokyo travel guide covers the entrance to the temple Senso-Ji appears on? I’ll be it’s roughly all of them! And yet, with as many times as I’ve been to Tokyo, I’d never visited it myself. So one pleasant early-spring afternoon, we met up with my old pal Toshi, grabbed some lunch and then strolled over to see what all the hubbub was about.

Toshi at Senso-Ji

I’m pretty sure that crowded is the default-state of the whole place, which in any other situation would be a complaint. I have to be honest though, if we had been the only ones there, I would have considered the trip a waste. In a place like this, it’s the humanity that brings the place to life and makes what would otherwise be a sightseeing pit-stop, a truly invigorating brush with culture.

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We got in a Mexican Standoff with Toshi.

Mary and I returned fire, of course.

Mary and I returned fire, of course.

And one of the things I really appreciate about it is that it’s not just a hermetically sealed tourist-culture. This place probably looked a lot different to someone visiting throughout it’s history. But thanks to the fact that most of the people visiting day-in and day-out are probably locals (may are probably even from Tokyo), it’s still living and breathing culture. It’s got lots of history behind it sure, but at the same time it’s absolutely modern culture as well. This is not a place for historical exercise to the people that come here, it’s just another part of life.

That’s what makes this place worth going to. And you definitely should if you get the chance.

Visitors wafting incense over themselves for good health.

 

These last few aren’t from the temple grounds but the next-door neighborhood that we found ourselves in while exploring. Because even when there’s a highlighted destination to take in, you can bet there’s always some more worth seeing just beyond.

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