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Why Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Is Better at Night?

sensoji temple at night

Asakusa shines in Tokyo’s lineup of popular destinations, known far and wide for its unique blend of history and modernity. Here in the capital’s heart lies Sensoji, a temple that stands as a testament to time, its roots stretching back to the city’s earlier days.

You might think of Sensoji as a place swarming with tourists snapping pictures, filling the air with chatter and shuffling from shop to shop. 

But imagine walking through Asakusa under the shroud of night, far from the daylight bustle.

Suddenly, the lantern-lit alleys invite you to a different world. The iconic lantern at Kaminarimon gate, typically engulfed in a sea of visitors, now looms silent and unobstructed, a welcome to the enveloping stillness.

  • Midnight at the Temple: Standing at the gate in the dead of night might give you the thrill of stepping through a portal to an unseen realm.
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Boldly outlined against the sky, the path stretches out, flanked by shuttered shops, their usual vibrancy muted, as if paused. The sense of solitude here makes you feel as if you’ve outlasted the apocalypse.

  • A Gate to the Unknown: Approach the Hozomon gate along the quiet Nakamise street, and you’ll notice its guardians – once shrouded in the commotion of daylight – now standing sentinel in solitude, an invitation to adventurers.

Illuminated against the night, the temple itself casts a surreal glow, the lantern at its center a beacon in the darkness. This spectacle is a rare sight, reserved for those who tread its grounds when others don’t.

  • Brightly Lit Solitude: Bathed in light until 11 p.m., the temple after-hours might compel you to linger in its otherworldly ambiance just a bit longer.
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Consider the opportunity to experience Sensoji twice – once amidst the vibrant chaos of day and then again at night, when Asakusa reveals its secretive, ethereal side. Should you find yourself captivated by a desire for the nocturnal view, perhaps plan for an overnight stay nearby.

  • Embrace the Night: As the days take you through bustling streets and rickshaw rides, let the nights unveil a tranquil, almost sacred experience, starkly different from the daily commotion, especially during moments like the Tourou Nagashi ceremony when lanterns drift down the Sumida River, casting their soft glow upon the waters.

Take in this less explored facet of Asakusa, and carry with you memories of a place that transcends the simple switch from day to night, offering glimpses into a world both mysterious and quietly magnificent.

What’s in Store When You Visit After Sunset?

Sensoji Temple takes on a different persona after the sun goes down. You can stroll around the precincts without the usual daytime crowds. The main buildings may be closed, but the gates and the pagoda are often bathed in a warm light, giving a mystical and calm ambience.

Any Evening Light Ups or Festivities?

Occasionally, there are seasonal events that include special light-ups that grace the temple, transforming the experience entirely. Keep an eye out for these, as they’re not a daily occurrence but offer a unique spectacle if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time.

Late Night Local Delicacies Nearby?

A stone’s throw away from the temple, you’ll find local spots that dish up delicious treats. Think soba noodles, tempura, or if you’re feeling adventurous, some monjayaki – Tokyo’s answer to the savory pancake. Although many stalls close by evening, some eateries stay open late to satisfy your after-dark cravings.

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Is the Temple Area Open for Nighttime Exploration?

Yes, indeed. While the inner temple shuts its doors in the evening, the surrounding grounds, including the shopping street Nakamise-dori, remain open. Shopkeepers may be packing up, but the streetscape offers a sense of old Tokyo, especially serene at night.

What’s the Vibe Like Come Evening Time?

As dusk falls, you’ll notice a more relaxed and enchanting atmosphere. With fewer tourists, it’s a time for reflection or unhindered photography. The lit-up structures against the night sky create a magical scene.

When Does the Temple Close for Night Visitors?

Sensoji’s spiritual presence is available around the clock. The precincts are open 24/7, so whether you’re a night owl or an early bird catching the worm, you can experience this slice of tranquility at any time. The buildings, however, close to visitors by 5 pm.

What do you think?

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