Kaminarimon

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The south face of the Kaminarimon. A statue of Fūjin stands on the right and that of Raijin on the left.

The Kaminarimon (雷門 "Thunder Gate"?) is the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji (the inner being the Hōzōmon) in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. The gate, with its lantern and statues, is popular with tourists. It stands 11.7 m tall, 11.4 m wide and covers an area of 69.3 m2.[1]

History[edit]

The Kaminarimon was first built in 941 by Taira no Kinmasa a military commander.[2] It was originally located near Komagata, but it was reconstructed in its current location in 1635. This is believed to be when the statues of Raijin and Fūjin were first placed on the gate.[2] The gate has been destroyed many times throughout the ages. Four years after its relocation, the Kaminarimon burned down, and in 1649 Tokugawa Iemitsu rebuilt the gate along with several other of the major structures in the temple complex.[3] The gate burnt to the ground in 1757 and again in 1865. The Kaminarimon's current structure dates from 1960.[1]

Features[edit]

The wooden carving of a dragon on the bottom of the great red lantern on the Kaminarimon

Four statues are housed in the Kaminarimon. On the front of the gate, the statues of the Shinto gods Fūjin and Raijin are displayed. Fūjin, literally the god of wind, is located on the east side of the gate, while Raijin, literally the god of thunder, is located on the west side. Two additional statues stand on the reverse of the gate: the Buddhist god Tenryū on the east, and the goddess Kinryū on the west side.

In the center of the Kaminarimon, under the gate, hangs a giant red chōchin that is 4 meters tall, 3.4 meters in circumference and weighs 670 kilograms (1,480 lb).[2] Being very fragile, the lantern is not an original piece. It is instead a restoration that was donated in August 2003 in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the start of the Edo period by Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of the Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (now known as Panasonic).[2]

The front of the lantern displays the gate's name, Kaminarimon (雷門?). Painted on the back is the gate’s official name, Fūraijinmon (風雷神門?).[4] A wooden carving depicting a dragon adorns the bottom of the lantern.

During festivals such as Sanja Matsuri, the lantern is collapsed to let tall objects pass through the gate.

The characters 金龍山 (Kinryū-zan?) on the tablet above the lantern read from right to left and reference the Sensō-ji.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "雷門" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Kaminarimon Gate". Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  3. ^ "Glossary of Terms". Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  4. ^ "Sensoji Temple". Retrieved 2008-03-07. 

Coordinates: 35°42′40″N 139°47′47″E / 35.71111°N 139.79639°E / 35.71111; 139.79639