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The Five-Storied Pagoda of Sensoji

The Five-Storied Pagoda of Sensoji

Tokyo 2015.09.04

This article is about the five-storied pagoda in Sensoji, where it particularly stands out. Get lost in the history and beauty of this magnificent structure.

Translated by Shinji Takaramura

Written by Koshizuka Misato

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The five-storied pagoda of Sensoji is a very popular sightseeing spot for tourists from abroad. What is a pagoda? This article will show you.

What is a Pagoda?

Pagodas can be seen not only at Sensoji, but also at many Buddhist temples. Also known as a stupa, it contains the ashes of the Buddha. In India, the birthplace of Buddhism, the stupa was originally dome-shaped. It changed into the current tower-shape during the times when Buddhism was introduced to China.

IMG_9934

Pagodas have been often succumbed to fire and lightning, but they have survived earthquakes. This is because of the shinbashira (central pillar) structure. The shinbashira in the center supports the whole tower, working against earthquakes. This system has also been applied to the Tokyo Skytree.

Nikken Sekkei: Tokyo Skytree

The Five-Storied Pagoda of Sensoji

浅草寺 五重塔

This five-storied pagoda is one of the most famous in Japan. Its height is 53.32 meters, which is about the height of an 18-story building.

浅草 浅草寺 五重塔 12

The original pagoda is said to have been built in 942 A.D. In the Edo period, along with the pagodas of Kan-eiji, Ikegami Honmonji, and Shiba Zojoji, it was regarded as one of the "Four Edo Pagodas". It was destroyed in an air raid during World War II, and then rebuilt at its current location thereafter. There is a stone monument standing at the original site.

What is Inside the Pagoda?

五重塔3_1

Three times a year, those who have applied for "Eitai Kuyo"(*1) and their families can enter the pagoda. There are various functions inside the pagoda, but the interior is off-limits to most people.

*1: This is a service to have a grave attended to by the temple, in perpetuity.

Room of Ihai Tablets

At the bottom of the pagoda, there are rooms with the statue of the Kanzeon Bosatu (*2), surrounded by the ihai tablets (*3). There are 100 statues, and more than 10,0000 ihai tablets in this pagoda.

*2: The Buddhist deity of mercy
*3: A tablet on which the posthumous Buddhist name of the deceased is inscribed.

Bhudda's Ashes

Buddha's ashes, officially inherited from the Isurumuniya temple in Sri Lanka, is stored on the top floor.
A lounge for the followers and the office of the temple are also located in the pagoda.

A Night View of the Pagoda

夜の雷門、浅草寺と五重の塔 ライトアップ 8

After sunset, the pagoda, Kaminarimon, and Hozomon gates, are all illuminated. The lighting is designed to highlight the vermillion color of the temple, and you can enjoy a different scenery from the daytime.

Sensoji: Illumination

Information

Five-Storied Pagoda of Sensoji

Address: 2-3-1, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Business Hours:
The halls of Sensoji open at 6:00 and close at 17:00.
From October to March, the halls opens at 6:30.
The illumination starts at sunset and ends at 23:00.
Please note that only those who have applied for "Eitai Kuyo" and their families can enter the pagoda.
Station: Asakusa Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, TOBU Railway Skytree Line, Toei Subway Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express)
Access: Five-minute walk from Asakusa Station
Tel: +81(0)3-3842-0181
Official Website: Sensoji

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