The main entryway to Senso-ji's grounds towers above the ever-present throng of tourists and passing rickshaw drivers. With its huge red-paper lantern hanging in the center, this landmark of Asakusa is picture-perfect, provided you can find a clear shot. The original gate was destroyed by fire in 1865; the replica you see today was built after World War II. Traditionally, two fearsome guardian gods are installed in the alcoves of Buddhist temple gates to ward off evil spirits. The Thunder God (Kaminari-no-Kami) is on the left with the Wind God (Kaze-no-Kami) on the right. Want to buy some of Tokyo's most famous souvenirs? Stop at Tokiwa-do, the shop on the west side of the gate for kaminari okoshi (thunder crackers), made of rice, millet, sugar, and beans.
Kaminari-mon marks the southern extent of Nakamise-dori, the Street of Inside Shops. The area from Kaminari-mon to the inner gate of the temple was once composed of stalls leased to the townspeople who cleaned and swept the temple grounds. This is now kitsch-souvenir central, so be prepared to buy a few key chains, dolls, and snacks.