Also popularly known as Asakusa Kannon, this is Tokyo's oldest and most popular temple, with a history dating back to A.D. 628. That was when, according to popular lore, two brothers fishing in the nearby Sumida River netted the catch of their lives -- a tiny golden statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and happiness who is empowered with the ability to release humans from all suffering. Sensoji Temple was erected in her honor, and although the statue is housed here, it's never shown to the public. Still, through the centuries, worshippers have flocked here seeking favors of Kannon; and when Sensoji Temple burned down during a 1945 bombing raid, the present structure was rebuilt with donations by the Japanese people (Note: Due to renovation, Sensoji Temple is under wraps until Dec 2010, but it remains open to the public).

Colorful Nakamise Dori, a pedestrian lane leading to the shrine, is lined with traditional shops and souvenir stands. In fact, the whole Asakusa area is one of my favorite neighborhoods, and you can easily spend half a day here.