Thunder Gate (Kaminarimon)
One of the most recognizable symbols of Tokyo’s Asakusa district, the impressive, large, red Kaminarimon, or “Thunder Gate,” gives visitors a grand welcome to Senso-Ji Temple. Standing 38 feet tall (11.7 meters, Thunder Gate gets its powerful name from Raijin, the god of thunder, one of the two deities it honors.
The giant red lantern that hangs in the center of the gate is its most eye-catching feature. Two kanji (characters) are written on the lantern, reading “Thunder Gate.” Four statues guard Thunder Gate: at the front, the Shinto gods of wind and thunder attract the most attention. The other two— a Buddhist god and goddess—are on the other side of the gate.
Kaminarimon’s history dates back to the year 941, when it was constructed by a military commander. Over the centuries, it has been destroyed by fire at least three times and has always been rebuilt on the same ground. The current structure dates to 1960. Today, locals gather at the imposing gate to pray while tourists come to take photos. You can learn more about the site by visiting as part of a guided walking tour that visits Senso-Ji—visiting with a guide has the added benefit of teaching you the rituals of visiting a temple.
Things to know before you go
- Thunder Gate is a must-visit for first-time visitors and those interested in traditional Japan.
- The Kaminarimon is free to visit.
- When passing under the lantern, look up to see an intricate dragon-shaped engraving.
How to get there
The Kaminarimon is a minute’s walk from Tokyo Metro Asakusa Station; a 2-minute walk from the Toei Asakusa Station; three minutes from Tobu Asakusa Station, and eight minutes from TX Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express Line.
When to get there
As one of Tokyo’s best-known attractions, the gate attracts large crowds of visitors every day. It is accessible at all hours, so visiting at night is a good way to avoid the crowds.
Just beyond the Thunder Gate, Nakamise-Dori is one of Japan’s best-known shopping streets. Dating back to the 17th-century, many of the shops in the traditional arcade have been run by the same family for several generations. This is a great spot for picking up souvenirs and trying traditional Japanese street foods.
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