(Divine Prince of the Eternal Law)
5th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
LOCATION: Kan’ei-ji (Ueno Park)
I don’t know if this posthumous name was a sort of joke by the imperial court in Kyōto, an honest compliment, or just obligatory flattery… or a combination of all three. But the 5th shōgun, Tsunayoshi’s legacy is a mixed bag of leadership and lunacy.
To the average Japanese he’s known as 犬将軍 inu shōgun the dog shōgun.
In his day, he was referred to by the less savory name of 犬公方 inu kubō, which has the same meaning.
His legacy hangs on an edict he promulgated called the 生類憐之令 Shōrui Awaremi no Rei Edict in Regards to the Compassion for All Living Things. Basically, the dude was a total religious freak. Because of the Buddhist belief in reincarnation, he felt compelled to protect all living creatures. Since he was born in the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese Zodiac, he was especially interested in protecting dogs. Tsunayoshi is a pretty interesting character, so if you want to read more about him, you can start HERE. I’m just going to talk about his funerary temple, so let’s get right into it.
If one were to judge the economic conditions of the Edo Shōgunate over time based on the funerary practices at Kan’ei-ji, one might come to the conclusion that the government was still in its heyday under Tsunayoshi’s reign and then we’d see a steep drop in quality by the time the next shōgun was interred at Kan’ei-ji. It’s more nuanced than that, but I can say now that Tsunayoshi’s mausoleum was the last one built at Kan’ei-ji. Not the last used, but the last built. After his temple was built, the successive shōguns interred at Kan’ei-ji were enshrined together in Ietsuna’s and Tsunayoshi’s mausolea.
Structures of Jōken-in
|the main hall||destroyed||—|
ai no ma
|in gongen-zukuri architecture, the structure that connects the honden and haiden.||destroyed||—|
|the inner or private worship hall||destroyed||—|
|a latticework fence that forms the border to a temple||destroyed||—|
|The “middle gate” which usually opens from a court yard into the worship hall||destroyed||—|
|portico on the left and right side of a shrine||destroyed||—|
|latticework fence that encloses a temple or shrine||destroyed||—|
|I’m not sure, but it’s a kind of gate…||destroyed||—|
|belfry, bell tower||destroyed||—|
|imperial scroll gate; posthumous name of the deceased hand written by the emperor which marked the official entrance to the funerary temple||decent condition||usually open to the public; the imperial scroll is in storage|
oku no in hōtō
|the 2-story pagoda styled funerary urn that houses the remains of the deceased.||decent condition||off limits|
oku no in
|so-called Chinese style gate that provided entry and exit to the tomb of the deceased.||decent condition||off limits|
|water basins for ritual purification||pretty freakin’ good condition, actually.||generally off limits|
|traditional stone lanterns||so-so condition||scattered here and there; a few are accessible within Kan’ei-ji Cemetery (just don’t get caught!)|
The 5th shōgun Tsunayoshi’s grave suffered the same fate that his brother, Ietsuna’s, grave suffered (they were next door to each other). Also, like Ietsuna’s, a few portions of the temple were torn down in the annexation of much of Kan’ei-ji’s land by the Meiji government for the creation of Ueno Park. Bizarrely, from the Edo Period until the firebombing of Tōkyō, only a handful of photos exist and they’re not in common circulation. As a result, what you see here is basically what you get: a gate and a water basin.
The 奥院 oku no in or 霊屋 tamaya (inner sanctuary/graveyard) still exists but it is generally off limits. The wash basin mentioned above is also usually off limits. Both Gen’yū-in and Jōken-in (the Ueno complexes) are closed to the public. Once a year, there is a lottery held for a one-day guided visit. It’s limited to 100 people and no photos are allowed. I’ve entered the lottery numerous times and never been selected.
The Imperial Scroll Gate
The Wash Basin
The Haiden and Honden
(worship hall & main hall)
Karamon (Chinese Gate)
Oku no In Karamon and Hotо̄ (urn)
After Tsunayoshi’s Enshrinement,
Burial Methods at Kan’ei-ji Changed Dramatically.
Keep in mind, we’re now five shōguns into the Edo Bakufu and from here on out we will not see an individual funerary temple built there again. After this, Kan’ei-ji burials consist of 合祀 gōshi group enshrinements. That means that Ietsuna and Tsunayoshi’s graves became the main Tokugawa cemeteries at Kan’ei-ji for the heads of the Tokugawa family (and occasionally their main wives). Siblings and concubines were buried at Kan’ei-ji, but most of those graves were in what is now called 谷中霊園 Yanaka Reien Yanaka Cemetery.
★ Spoiler Alert! ★
I’ve already alluded to this, so I’ve already given way part of this, but other people enshrined in Tsunayoshi’s temple are:
● 8th shōgun, Yoshimune
● 13th shōgun, Iesada & his main wife, Princess Atsu
● Iemoto, the eldest son of the 11th shōgun, Ieharu (called the phantom 11th shōgun because his name had the kanji for “ie” but he was never installed as shōgun ‘cuz he sucked)
Support Japan This!
|Follow||Japan This! on Instagram|
Japan This! on Facefook
Japan This! on Twitter
|Donate||Support every article on Patreon|
Donate via Paypal
|Explore||Japan This! Tours|
 As a side note, Ietsuna and Tsunayoshi were brothers. Easy to remember because of that “tsuna” thing.
 The 8th shōgun was Tokugawa Yoshimune, who is a beloved character for his austerity and his bad ass white horse on his TV show for old people, Abarenbō Shogun.
 I’m being facetious here, but seriously… why is there no photographic or artistic evidence of either site? It is mysterious as hell, if you think about it.
 5 shōguns deep = 10 more shōguns to go. For all intents and purposes, we’re still very much in the early Edo Period.
 Just kidding, he died suddenly at the age of 17.