(Tower of Benevolence & Virtue)
2nd Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Hidetada
LOCATION: Zōjō-ji (Shiba Park)
To the average Japanese his name has sort of dissipated into the ether. If they remember him at all, he’s the uninteresting guy between Ieyasu and Iemitsu. To fans of the Sengoku Era, he’s kinda boring compared to all the major warlords of the day. To fans of the Edo Era, he’s the son of a great man and the father of another great man, but not a great man himself.
But in my opinion, Hidetada’s reputation as a boring shōgun is totally unfair.
Part of his bad rep is the fact that he was Tokugawa Ieyasu’s second son. In the final throes of the Sengoku Period, Ieyasu had ordered his first son, Nobuyasu, to commit seppuku after a period of house arrest for suspected treason against Oda Nobunaga. Famously, Ieyasu is said to have regretted this order until he died. But such was life in Sengoku Japan. To make things worse, at the Battle of Sekigahara – Ieyasu’s most important battle – Hidetada arrived late… late as in, after the battle. Ieyasu was pissed off like a motherfucker and never forgot this.
Why do I think this is unfair?
1 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault he was born second (primogeniture was supremely important at the time)
2 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault that Nobuyasu was (apparently) a dick and got mixed up with people who were plotting Nobunaga’s murder (whether this was true or not is unknown).
3 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault that Nobunaga insisted on executing Nobuyasu and that Ieyasu ordered his own first born son to do seppuku in order to have an “honorable death.”
4 – Hidetada ruled for a little under 20 years. Not bad at all given the fact that even Hideyoshi hadn’t held onto power for more than 10 years. His own father, Ieyasu, abdicated from the position of shōgun after just 2 years. So Hidetada set a record by just being alive.
5 – Besides being late to Sekigahara, one of the other alleged reasons Ieyasu hated Hidetada was that supposedly Hidetada married 江姫 Gō-hime for love. To Ieyasu this was the ultimate pussy move. Real men used women for making babies and managing the household while men tended to matters of war and state. But I think it’s sweet.
6 – Hidetada made strong relations with 朝廷 chōtei the imperial court in Kyōto by marrying the Tokugawa into the imperial bloodline.
7 – He encouraged massive building efforts in Edo, including Kan’ei-ji.
8 – He had a bad ass mustache.
So yeah, sometimes Tokugawa Hidetada gets cast as a pussy or as a shitty shōgun, but I don’t think that’s really the case. He definitely had the bad luck of being sandwiched between 2 remarkable shōguns in a remarkable time. But he wasn’t a shitty shōgun by any stretch of the imagination. The shitty shōguns don’t come until later. And they will come, believe me.
But in our story, Hidetada is the hero. He donated land to the Buddhist priest Tenkai to develop a second funerary temple complex at Kan’ei-ji in Ueno. Even though Hidetada developed Kan’ei-ji, he chose to be interred at Zōjō-ji. Despite his direct order that he just have a simple gravestone, his mausoleum was said to have been the most opulent structure at Zōjō-ji. The shōgunate threw buckets of money into the development of a shrine worthy of the son of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Most of the Daitoku-in was destroyed in the firebombing of WWII and sadly never rebuilt. Luckily for us, a few structures survived. Except for one gate, the remaining pieces were sent to 不動寺 Fudō-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama. Looking at the pictures of the original structures, they do look quite elaborate. If you see the restored 惣門 sōmon main gate in Shiba Park today, you’ll be shocked at how intense it is. Whether it looked like that in the Edo Period or not, I don’t know… but when it was new it probably did shine like that. Also seeing the level of detail and craftsmanship of the remaining pieces in Saitama, it really breaks my heart that all these treasures were lost forever. Having spent the last 3 days sorting through as many photos as I could, I really do believe it’s a tragedy that these buildings were not only destroyed but never rebuilt.
|Like an outdoor hallway that separated the oku no in from the honden.|
Middle gate (2x)
A latticework fence common at shrines
Water basins for ritual purification (2x)
oku no in
Inner sanctuary complex;
|Main gate||Restored to bizarrely perfect condition||Shiba Park|
|Imperial scroll gate (bears the okurigō gifted by the emperor upon the deceased; bears the shrine’s namesake)||Maintained in good condition. It’s former location is marked.||Fudō-ji|
|Clove gate |
(led into the area that led into the cemetery)
|Maintained in good condition||Fudō-ji|
|Special entrance reserved for the shōgun||Maintained in good condition||Fudō-ji|
|Copper & stone lamps for illumination at night|
Many have survived
|Most are at Fudō-ji (Tokorozawa)|
|Mausoleum of Gō, Hidetada’s wife.|
Sūgen’in is her ingō (“-in” name).
|Destroyed||Shiba Park (ruins)|
General Map of Daitoku-in
Look at the images below. In the middle, you can see a bunch of dudes in white lined up in front of the 惣門 sōmon Main Gate. Pass through the main gate, that brings you to the 勅額門 chokugaku-mon imperial scroll gate. From there, you can see the 2 水盤舎 suibansha wash basins on the left and right. If you continue straight, you’ll arrive at the 本殿 honden main hall. To the right of the main you can see 崇源院 Sūgen-in princess Gō‘s grave. To the left of the main hall, you can go up the hill to the 奥院 oku no in, the inner sanctuary complex which housed Hidetada’s remains. The mortuary building was an octagonal, 2-story pagoda with a smaller 2-story urn made of wood inside. There was also another worship hall called a 拝殿 haiden in the oku no in. The five story pagoda next to it was technically part of Zōjō-ji, and not Daitoku-in. Apparently some fences and monuments remained in sitū until the 1960’s when they were either demolished or moved to another location.
Sōmon – the Main Gate
This type of gate is the street level gate. It signified a boundary between the mundane and the spiritual.
Called sōmon in Japanese, the main gate survived all sorts of conflagrations and earthquakes. How it survived the firebombing that destroyed most of Zōjō-ji is beyond me. It’s been restored and it is splendid. But it looks so new that… I dunno. You be the judge.
Chokugaku-mon – the Imperial Scroll Gate
The emperor — supposedly — thinks up and writes the posthumous name of the shōgun and then that handwritten calligraphy is made into a plaque for the true entrance to the temple. While the sōmon is the street level entrance, the imperial scroll gate, called 勅額門 chokugaku-mon announces the name of the temple. It’s the gate between the mundane world and the spiritual realm of the deified shōgun.
Suibansha – Water Basins for Ritual Purification
Honden – the Main Hall
Oku no In – the Inner Sanctuary (Mortuary)
From Hidetada’s main hall, if we turn left and walk up through the gate we ‘ll come to a steep staircase which leads to the 奥院 oku no in, the inner sanctuary or mortuary/cemetery. At the top of the stairs is another gate called 御稲荷門 O-narimon. This was a gate for the personal use of the shōgun and his attendants. 100 years later, another o-nari gate would be built at Yūshō-in.
Next we come to another gate called 中門 Nakamon, middle gate, this one leads to an octagonal 2-story pagoda. Inside the pagoda was a 2-story wooden urn which housed the remains of Hidetada.
In front of the 2-story pagoda was the 拝殿 haiden, another hall of worship separate from the 本殿 honden, main hall. In the close up of the Nakamon above, you can see the roof behind the 玉垣 tamagaki fence. I don’t have a picture of the outside of the building, but you can see it in the painting above.
While it wasn’t part of Daitoku-in, on the hill across from the haiden, there was a 5-story pagoda.
Now, if we turn around and go back down the stairs and walk past the main hall, we’ll find a gate called 丁子門 chōjimon, the clove gate. If we pass through the clove gate, we will enter another mortuary called Sūgen-in. This is the grave of Hidetada’s wife, Gō.
(Source of Adoration – posthumous name of Princess Gō)
And Finally, the Copper Lamps
Many stone lamps and copper lamps were on the premises. Some of the lamps that survived the firebombing were re-used at Zōjō-ji, but most were relocated to Fudō-ji in 1960.
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 It must be said, however, that Ieyasu abdicated in order to oversee the succession of his shōgunate from behind the scenes. So in as much as Hidetada was nominally shōgun, it could be said that Ieyasu was still in charge. Nevertheless, as shōgun, Hidetada wasn’t a puppet. Edicts and policies enacted during his reign are distinct from Ieyasu’s.
 江 Gō’s name was written many different ways. She was also called 江与 Eyo and 督 Gō, among other things. It’s really complicated, so I’m just calling her Gō.
14 thoughts on “Daitoku-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Hidetada”
I’ve never seen anything in English on this topic. Thank you.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Actually, I’ve never seen anything about it in English either which is the very reason that I started writing about it. Guess I found my niche, hahaha.
I can tell you really put a lot of effort into this. Other bloggers about Japan should take page from your book. Most people regurgitate the same points.
Are you a researcher?
Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words.
Just glad to know I’m not blogging into a vacuum. And, no, I am not a researcher by profession or associated with academia in anyway. Just a dude who loves Japan and Japanese history.
Well done, sir! My plan for Sunday is decided. I’m going to walk the premises!
That’s great! I’m really happy to hear that. Let us know how it goes.
I know there were a lot of pictures.
But if you still want to see one more, here ya go.
1) A panoramic view of the copper lamps that were moved to fudo-ji:
I visited and with these photos and the painting, I think I was able to walk the premises. There are lots of new buildings there now, though.
You updated the site since then, so I didn’t go to the other end where the other remains are.
The main gate is glorious!
Looking at the old pictures is so nice. But looking at the ariel shots and How the place looks now is so dumpy. Why is it Tokyo never makes effort to Protect the history?
The photo from Tōkyō Tower may look a little “dumpy,” but on the ground, it’s actually a really nice park. The actual area of Daitokuin is larger than in the photo (I know now).
I just came across another photo of the 惣門 sōmon (main gate/nitenmon) at Japanese Castle Explorer. I’ll upload into the main article if the site admin can give me a version of the photo without a watermark. It’s the first time I’ve seen this photo so I want it baaaaad!!! lol
I know I usually refer people to JCastle, but check out this site, too.
Thank you for posting this information. I was trying to find the back story to Gate of Daitokuin Mausoleum. I especially appreciate the effort you have taken to post old photos and explanations. Fascinating and incredibly satisfying.
I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Please subscribe to my site because I’m always updating it!