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What does Eitaibashi mean?

In Japanese History on January 3, 2015 at 5:08 am


永代橋
Eitaibashi (eternity bridge, but more at “Eitai Bridge”)

Eitaibashi at night.

Eitaibashi at night.

A few days ago, I wished everyone a happy new year and I promised you 2 articles about bridges on the Sumida River that were named after shrines. I’m pretty sure I followed through with that promise[i]. So, please accept my humble apologies as I present a 3rd article about a bridge on the Sumida River. This time the bridge is associated with a temple instead of a shrine.

Let me briefly outline the history of this area first. First there was an island, then there was a temple, next there was a birthday, and finally there was a bridge.

It's become a fairly photogenic bridge over the years.

It’s become a fairly photogenic bridge over the years.

The Kanji You Should Know For This Place Name

永代
eitai

forever, eternity,
endless generations


shima/-jima

island


tera, –ji

temple


hashi
/-bashi

bridge

Prior to the coming of the Tokugawa, there was small fishing village located on a shoal in the shallows of the present day 隅田川 Sumida-gawa Sumida River. The area was called 永代島 Eitai-jima Eitai Island (literally “the eternal island”)[ii]. Once Tokugawa hegemony was established, the area was connected to the mainland by landfill in order to encourage business. A Buddhist temple was established in the area in 1624 during the first year of 徳川家光 Tokugawa Iemitsu’s reign[iii]. That temple was called 永代寺 Eitai-ji Eitai Temple. It took its name from the name of the island, so the name means “Eitai Island” → “Temple of the Unending Generations.” Anyways, it’s just an auspicious name, so don’t read too much into it. A few years later in 1627, a major shrine was established here called 富岡八幡宮 Tomioka Hachiman-gū[iv] and placed under the supervision of Eitai-ji. This kind of rapid progress is typical of the reigns of the first 3 shōguns.

Today, Eitai-ji is a shadow of its former self.

Today, Eitai-ji is a shadow of its former self.

Tomioka Hachiman-gu is still a force to be reckoned with.

Tomioka Hachiman-gu is still a force to be reckoned with.


The Story of the Bridge

Prior to the Edo Period, the traditional way of crossing the Sumida River was by established ferry crossings called 渡し watashi. These established ferry crossings were located where major roads needed to connect to roads on the other side of the river, in particular 街道 kaidō highways[v]. The original ferry crossing was located about 100 meters[vi] upstream from the current location of the current bridge, Eitaibashi. It was called 大渡し Ōwatashi the Great Ferry Crossing (also known as 深川之渡し Fukagawa no Watashi the Fukagawa Ferry Crossing).

This isn't the Owatashi, but it is the Sumida River. In this particular image, the bridge in the background is the Ryogoku Bridge.

This isn’t the Owatashi, but it is the Sumida River. In this particular image, the bridge in the background is the Ryogoku Bridge.

An Eternal Bridge and an Eternal Shōgunate?

In 1698, the 5th shōgun, 徳川綱吉 Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, celebrated his 50th birthday. In a time where infant mortality was high, turning 50 years old in any part of the world was a pretty big deal. Let’s be realistic here. Living 7 years was pretty much a monumental feat in itself[vii]. So the shōgunate decided to go balls out. They happened to be building a 4th bridge across the Sumida River at the 大渡し Ōwatashi Great Ferry Crossing. The local temple Eitai-ji was based in nearby Eitaijima and the kanji were auspicious enough to make a good name for the shōgun’s birthday. As the bridge connected 2 business districts, the implied meaning was “an eternal shōgnate granting eternal prosperity.[viii]

Believe it or not, this is the official image of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi issued by the shogunate.

Believe it or not, this is the official image of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi issued by the shogunate.

The bridge soon became a famous sightseeing spot. From the top of the bridge you could see Mt. Tsukuba to the north, Mt. Hakone to the south, and Mt. Fuji to the west. If you looked out eastward across the bay, you could see 安房国 Awa no Kuni Awa Province and 上総国 Kazusa no Kuni Kazusa Province (in modern 千葉県 Chiba-ken Chiba Prefecture).

Not these clowns again? Really?  My deepest apologies... but yes, the "47 Ronin" are about to make an appearance.

Not these clowns again? Really?
My deepest apologies… but yes, the “47 Ronin” are about to make an appearance.

Famously, on the evening of December 14th, 1702 a group of armed rednecks raided the home of a hatamoto bureaucrat named 吉良上野介 Kira Kōzuke no Suke[ix]. Kira is the dude who is generally portrayed as the bad guy in the popular 47 Rōnin narrative[x]. In what was essentially an honor killing, the 四十人之芋侍 yonjūnin no imozamurai 47 hick samurai[xi] stalked Kira for a year and then finally beheaded him[xii] at his estate in 両国 Ryōgoku. The popular narrative often says that they crossed Eitaibashi while marching in a procession from Kira Kōzuke no Suke’s estate in Ryōgoku to their lord’s grave at Sengaku-ji in 高輪 Takanawa. The route would have been possible. Maybe they just wanted to check out the new bridge. Or maybe since both events happened during Tsunayoshi’s reign, the stories were conflated. At any rate, Eitaibashi figures into to some versions of the 47 Rōnin story.

A Few Year’s Later the Situation Changed..

An actual photograph of Tokugawa Yoshimune.

An actual photograph of Tokugawa Yoshimune.

By the reign of 徳川吉宗 Tokugawa Yoshimune (1716-1745[xiii]) the shōgunate found itself in a financial crisis. Yoshimune’s first act as shōgun was his first – and apparently only – act of extravagance. He commissioned a gorgeous mausoleum called 有章院 Yūshō-in at 増上寺 Zōjō-ji for the child shōgun, 徳川家継 Tokugawa Ietsugu[xiv]. After that, his entire reign (and indeed his pre-shōgunal career) was marked by austerity and frugality. His emphasis on fixing the shōgunate’s deficit culminated in the 1630’s when the 享保之改革 Kyōhō no Kaikaku Kyōhō Reforms became law. But preceding these reforms there were a string of actions that attempted to return the government to solvency. One such act was when the shōgunate decided to relinquish control of Eitaibashi in 1719.

Yusho-in is undoubtedly one of the greatest monuments of Edo.  Sadly, the mausoleum was firebombed into oblivion and does not exist today.

Yusho-in is undoubtedly one of the greatest monuments of Edo.
Sadly, the mausoleum was firebombed into oblivion and does not exist today.

For whatever reason, the shōgunate saw the upkeep and maintenance of the bridge as a money pit. However, the local townspeople freaked out when they heard about this. After all, they depended on the bridge for their livelihoods. Accordingly, they petitioned the shōgunate for the right to maintain and control the bridge themselves. The shōgunate agreed to the arrangement and the bridge was privatized for about 88 years.

Let's talk about parties. Then let's talk about the structural integrity of wooden bridges.

Let’s talk about parties.
Then let’s talk about the structural integrity of wooden bridges.

However, on September 20th, 1807 tragedy struck. Every 12 years Tomioka Hachiman-gū has a special 御祭 o-matsuri festival. The tradition continues today and thousands of people descend upon the area to participate in this crazy Edo Period festival. In 1807, so many people gathered on the bridge at the same time that the bridge collapsed into the river. It was so horrific that we actually have documents describing the collapse in vivid detail and the event is preserved in 落語 rakugo[xv]. About 1400 people died (or were reported missing)[xvi].

Nightmare situation...

Nightmare situation…

The shōgunate once again realized the importance of the bridge and – perhaps not trusting the local townspeople to manage things – rebuilt it and maintained authority over the new structure. This wooden bridge remained in use until it started to fall into serious disrepair after the Meiji Coup in 1868.

The closest thing I can find to a picture of the wooden bridge.

The closest thing I can find to a picture of the wooden bridge.

In 1897 (Meiji 30), the decaying wooden bridge was demolished, and a new site 100 meters downstream[xvii] was chosen as the site of the first iron and steel truss bridge to span the Sumida River. This bridge being one of the first of its kind in Japan was a sort of experiment in engineering. The main structure was built of iron and steel, but bases were built out of wood.

The first modern, steel version of the bridge.

The first modern, steel version of the bridge.

In 1904 (Meiji 37), the bridge was adapted to allow trolley service to pass through and tracks were laid for the 東京市街鉄道 Tōkyō Shigai Tetsudō Tōkyō City and Suburbs Railway[xviii]. The Meiji Period steel and iron structure served its purpose nobly until September 1st, 1923 when a major earfquake brought the capital city to its knees. This was none other than the 関東大震災 Kantō Daishinsai Great Kantō Earthquake. It seems that the tremors didn’t break the bridge. However, the wooden bases on which the heavy metal structure rested caught fire and when their integrity was compromised, the entire bridge once again collapsed.

In the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earfquake.

In the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earfquake.

Reconstruction began immediately as the bridge was vital to the city’s infrastructure. A new, blue, arch-shaped European style bridge was completed in 1926. This is the structure that stands today.

Originally the bridge was red as a warning to ships. But now the bridge is blue

Originally the bridge was red as a warning to ships. But now the bridge is blue

The Shape of the Modern Bridge

The Meiji Coup was carried out by emperor-worshipping psychopaths from Satsuma and Chōshū. As they tried to modernize Japan they looked for Western examples that fit their emperor-centric world view. Prussia and the German Empire had definitely caught their eyes since they possessed cutting edge western technology, a seemingly modern system of governance, and – most importantly – an emperor at the top of the pyramid. When seeking to design a bridge suitable of the Emperor’s Great Capital[xix], the Japanese Imperial Government fixated on a bridge crossing the Rhine called the Ludendorff-Brücke Ludendorff Bridge[xx], an iron and steel truss bridge featuring a unique arch shape[xxi]. The Ludendorff Bridge served as a template for many of the arch-shaped bridges built at the time, first and foremost, Eitaibashi.

But Edo Period bridges had a slightly rainbow shape. It could also be argued that this was a justification for traditional Japanese architecture and a return to traditional shapes during a period of heightened nationalism.

The German model of many of Sumida's bridges.

The German model of many of Sumida’s bridges.

In the build up to the 1964 Olympic Games, much of the rebuilt city was covered up or completely overhauled. The first to get the axe was the trolley network which was susceptible to bad weather, flooding, snow, earthquakes, and car accidents[xxii]. An overall trend towards subways and new train technology took root. In 1972, the trolley was shut down and since then access to Eitaibashi has been limited to automobile and pedestrian traffic. Today you can’t see Mt. Fuji, Mt. Tsukuba, Mt. Hakone, or Chiba. So there.

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[i] Check the last 2 articles, bitch.
[ii] I couldn’t find any pre-Edo Period info on the island, but long time readers will be familiar with the use of auspicious kanji in place names. One could suppose 永代 eitai forever is a reference to a hope for abundant and prosperous fishing.
[iii] The 3rd Tokugawa Shōgun.
[iv] I’ve written about this area before. See my May 2013 article on Monzen-Nakachō.
[v] The kanji literally means “roads connecting cities” or “commercial roads.”
[vi] 109 yards
[vii] This aspect of pre-modern Japan is still preserved in the celebration of 七五三 shichi-go-san 7-5-3 wherein families celebrate their children having made it to 3 years old without dying and then 5 and 7 years old – child mortality rates being sky high for children under 10 years old in the Edo Period.
[viii] Some not so subtle propaganda for ya.
[ix] I’m using his court title “Protector of Kōzuke Province” because his actual name 吉良義央 is the source of some confusion. The traditional and most common reading is Kira Yoshinaka, but there seems to be evidence that the actual reading is Kira Yoshihisa. Using his court title avoids the confusion as his honorary title is very well known.
[x] But as usual, the popular narrative is at odds with historical records. Samurai Archives has an excellent description of the historical account of the 47 Rōnin as opposed to the hysterical account of the 47 Rōnin. I highly suggest reading the Samurai Archives’ article. In their discussion forum, the incident has been described as a “feudal driveby.” It’s a hilarious description, but it’s funny because it’s true.
[xi] I made up the Japanese term here. The Japanese do not call this group “the 47 Rōnin,” instead they use the term 赤穂浪士 Akō Rōshi the masterless samurai of Akō Domain.
[xii] ISIS/Taliban much?
[xiii] Those are the dates of his reign. He was born in 1684 and died in 1751. Say what you will about him, but he is a truly transitional shōgun – even shōgunal burial architecture reflects this change. He’s the last of the exciting shōguns (the next interesting one would be the last shōgun, Yoshinobu, 100 years later).
[xiv] I have an article about that here!
[xv] A kind of Edo Period traditional storytelling.
[xvi] Yes, 1400 people were on the bridge at the same time. That’s how big this festival is.
[xvii] The current site of Eitaibashi.
[xviii] I can’t find an official English translation of the company name but that’s what it literally meant. This company was the forerunner of the modern 東京都電車 Tōkyō-to Todensha literally, Tōkyō Metropolitan Electrified Cars, but in sad reality, only one line remains of the original trolley network.
[xix] Don’t even get me started… ugh!
[xx] The namesake of the German bridge is Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff. Ludendorff was a nationalist to the core and a supporter of Germany’s imperialism. For a while, he even supported Hitler and the Nazis, but apparently was too old for all that newfangled Nazism. Even if he wasn’t a Nazi, he still seems like a bit of douche bag.
[xxi] Hence the Shōwa government’s obsession with this shape. But to be honest, the German bridge has almost medieval brick and mortar turrets defending the entrances, so the final Japanese design is much more appealing, IMO.
[xxii] Subways were now coming into vogue.

What does Akabane mean?

In Japanese History on June 20, 2013 at 6:44 am

赤羽
Akabane (Red Wings; but more at Red Clay)

Pre-Saitama

Akabane Station.
It’s next to Saitama, so it’s sort of your last chance to be cool and say you live in Tokyo.
It’s also so close to Saitama that it’s kinda uncool by association.
It’s like you’re trying to get your pre-Saitama on.
Preparing to graduate to Saitama[1].

Today’s place name etymology is a pretty interesting one because we will get a sneak peak at the extinct pre-Edo Period dialect of the area. Akabane sits in the northern part of Kita Ward. It’s basically next to Kawakuchi, Saitama. So it’s on the literal outskirts of Tōkyō. Mind you, you won’t see any difference leaving Tōkyō and entering Saitama due to the thorough urban sprawl.

Historically speaking, 赤羽村 Akabane Mura Akabane Village wasn’t a particularly important place, but in the Kamakura Period a highway called 岩槻街道 Iwatsuki Kaidō was built. The road is better known by its Edo Era name, 日光御成街道 Nikkō O-nari Kaidō. As mentioned in my article on Tokugawa Ietsugu’s Mausoleum, 御成 o-nari refers to the presence of the shōgun. As such, this was a private highway for the shōgun family to use when visiting 日光東照宮 Nikkō Tōshō-gū. It was a shortcut that connected the 中仙道 Nakasendō to the 日光街道 Nikkō Kaidō. The road passed through Akabane and there was a rest station 宿場 shukuba at the next town, 岩淵宿 Iwabuchi Shuku Iwabuchi Post Station. That town was pretty important and well known.  Akabane was just another small village in the country.

A Map of the Iwatsuki Kaido as it passes through Akabane and Iwabuchi.

A Map of the Iwatsuki Kaido as it passes through Akabane and Iwabuchi.

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OK. So now we have a little historical context for the city. Where does the name come from?

Well, if we strip away the kanji, we can find the origin of the name:

あか aka means red.
はね hane is the old local dialect word for 埴 hani, clay.

Why would anyone look at the dirt? When you considered that Japanese folk craft pottery could use this clay to make red pottery items, it becomes clear why "Red Clay" was a good place name originally. Remember, this place name pre-dates the Edo Period and gets its first mention in the Kamakura Period. This place name is OLD.

Why would anyone look at the dirt?
When you considered that Japanese folk craft pottery could use this clay to make red pottery items,
it becomes clear why “Red Clay” was a good place name originally.
Remember, this place name pre-dates the Edo Period and gets its first mention in the Kamakura Period.
This place name is OLD.

The 荒川 Arakawa River apparently deposited a lot of red colored volcanic ash from Mt. Fuji here. The buildup of this material produced a red slimy, claylike soil that was particular to the area. If an area eroded, the red clay would become exposed. Thus the area was called 赤埴 Akabani Red Clay. But in the local accent the name was pronounced Akabane. Later, as literacy rates improved in the area, the second kanji was changed to actually match the pronunciation. So 羽 hane wings was added, thus obscuring the origins of the place name as 赤羽 Akabane Red Wings[2].

For another sneak peak at the old dialect, we can look at the name of the highway that passed through here. It was called the 岩槻街道 Iwatsuki Kaidō. But place name 岩槻 Iwatsuki was originally written as 岩付 Iwatsuke. Diachronic Japanese linguists and dialectologists use evidence like this to track the development and differentiation of vowel quantities – in particular /e/ and /i/ which traditionally show great instability. So now you know.

Apparently, 赤羽橋 Akabanebashi (Red Wing Bridge) in Shiba (Minato Ward) has the same derivation. Archaeological findings in the postwar years confirmed the existence of medieval kilns and earthenware factories.

 

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[1] But the most famous pre-Saitama of all is Ikebukuro.

[2] A family name and a place name Akahani still persists elsewhere in Japan and the kanji is consistent with the original writing of the of the name. The writing of Akahani instead of Akabani reflects a conservative pronunciation before the 連濁 rendaku sound changes of the Tōkyō area became the national standard.

Junshin’in

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 10, 2013 at 1:49 am

惇信院
Junshin’in  (Divine Prince of Sincere Faith)
九代将軍徳川家重公
9th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ieshige
Zōjō-ji

Tokugawa Ieshige - not the brightest star of the bakufu.

Tokugawa Ieshige – not the brightest star of the bakufu.

With the first three shōguns we see a variety of styles of shōgunal mausolea. There was no set style, with the 2nd shōgun, Hidetada’s mausoleum being the most unique in its arrangement. However, from the 4th shōgun, Ietsuna[i], until the 7th shōgun, Ietsugu, we see a more or less fixed style with a complex system of fences and gates. From the 8th shōgun, Yoshimune, until the 14th shōgun, Iesada, we see a new burial practice, 合祀 gōshi group enshrinement which reused existing funerary temples as a cost-saving measure.

The part of the massive funerary temples in which the actual grave was located was called 御霊屋 o-tamaya. In the case of the Tokugawa shōgun graves, the 2-story pagoda shaped urn was often surrounded by a 4-sided stone wall with a single metal gate. Tamaya literally means “place where the spirit resides” and was considered the actual place of enshrinement. Generally, people couldn’t enter o-tamaya[ii] during the Edo Period. But from the Meiji Era on Zōjō-ji was one of the major sightseeing destinations for Japanese and foreigners alike. From Yoshimune to Iesada, the only new constructions were o-tamaya[iii].

The 9th shōgun, Ieshige, was interred at Yūshōin (Ietsugu) at Zōjō-ji.

View of Bunshoin and Yushoin. I've highlighted the entrance, the still extant Nitenmon, and the still extant O-narimon. If you scan up towards the right side, on the hill I've highlighted the o-tamaya of 7th shogun Ietsugu and 9th shogun, Ieshige.

View of Bunshoin and Yushoin.
I’ve highlighted the entrance, the still extant Nitenmon, and the still extant O-narimon.
If you scan up towards the right side, on the hill I’ve highlighted the o-tamaya of 7th shogun Ietsugu and 9th shogun, Ieshige.
For more explanation on the layout of the mortuary, please see the article on Yushoin.

Ieshige was one of the crappier shōguns. All I remember about the guy is that he loved 将棋 shōgi (Japanese chess) and he had fucked up teeth that made him talk funny. Some have suggested that he had cerebral palsy because of stories that he couldn’t move his face muscles well and speaking wasn’t his strong point. He excessively ground his teeth. They also said he was constantly peeing and would stop official audiences with daimyō to take a piss and then come back and resume the audience. Take all of this with a grain of salt, by the way[iv].

The nitenmon (2 god main entrance) of Yushoin.

The nitenmon (2 god main entrance) of Yushoin.

Ieshige's hoto in the Tokugawa Shogun Cemetery at Zojo-ji.

Ieshige’s hoto in the Tokugawa Shogun Cemetery at Zojo-ji.

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[i] Of which, frustratingly, I can find no pictures or maps of. Argh!!!!!

[ii] Though we’ve seen pictures of a few, at least from afar. If you go to Nikkō Tōshō-gū or Taiyūin, when you come to the end of the funerary temple, you will find the tamaya and the hōtō (urn). You can’t enter, but you can walk around them. Taking pictures is also permitted… I’m looking at you, ehem, Kan’ei-ji.

[iii] Sometimes the word o-tamaya is applied to the entire mortuary temple, but this is not correct. If you can read Japanese, you’ll see the area labeled as 北御霊屋 Kita O-tamaya North Cemeteries, just ignore that shit.

[iv] The fucked up teeth thing has been confirmed by archeology, though. In the 1950’s, they checked out his remains and the consensus is that his teeth were very bad and would have contributed to poor speech.

Yushoin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves on June 6, 2013 at 3:05 am

有章院
Yūshōin  (Divine Prince of Who the Fuck Knows[i])
七代将軍徳川家継公
7th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ietsugu
Zōjō-ji

Tokugawa Ietsugu looking quite mature for his age.

Tokugawa Ietsugu looking quite mature for his age.

The 7th shōgun, Ietsugu, was the last descendent of the direct line started by Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was only shōgun for 3 years.

He died at age 6.

The next shōgun, Yoshimune, threw mad loot at Zōjō-ji for the construction of a large mausoleum next to Ienobu’s. The wood carvings and engravings were said to rival those at Nikkō making it a popular sightseeing spot until it was destroyed in the Great Tōkyō Air Raid in 1945.

Ietsugu’s mausoleum, called Yūshōin, was the last great funerary complex built by the shōgunate. Ietsugu’s short reign saw one of the first serious financial crises of the Edo Period. As an austerity measure, Yoshimune opted for a 合祀 gōshi group enshrinement. I don’t know if this is this was an edict, but the practice continued until the fall of the bakufu in 1868. Just to put things into perspective, there were 15 shōguns. We’re at the halfway point now and sadly, there will be no more funerary temples. The rest of this series is going to go by very quickly. lol

Structures of Yūshōin

Structure Name Description Condition Status
本殿
honden
the main hall destroyed

相之間
ai no ma
in gongen-zukuri architecture, the structure that connects the honden and haiden. destroyed

拝殿
haiden
the inner or private worship hall destroyed

前廊
zenrō
a latticework fence that forms the border to a temple destroyed

中門
nakamon
The “middle gate” which usually opens from a court yard into the worship hall  destroyed

左右廊
sayūrō
portico on the left and right side of a shrine destroyed

渡廊
watarō
portico destroyed

透塀
sukibei
latticework fence that encloses a temple or shrine destroyed

内透塀
uchi-sukibei
?
name means inner latticework fence
destroyed

外透塀
soto-sukibei
?
name means outer latticework fence
destroyed

仕切門
shikirimon
entrance to the oku no in destroyed

鐘楼
shōrō
belfry, bell tower destroyed

井戸屋形
ido yakata 
roof over a well, or spring destroyed

勅額門
chokugaku
mon
imperial scroll gate; posthumous name of the deceased hand written by the emperor which marked the official entrance to the funerary temple destroyed

二天門
niten
mon
main gate, protected by 2 gods extant, but in awful condition

Tōkyō Prince Hotel

奥院波板塀
oku no in

nami itabei
“wave fence” made of planks around the
inner sanctuary
destroyed

奥院拝殿
oku no in

haiden
worship hall within the inner sanctuary destroyed

奥院宝塔
oku no in hōtō
A copper 2-story pagoda styled funerary urn that houses the remains of the deceased fair condition in the Tokugawa Graveyard at Zōjō-ji
奥院唐門
oku no in
karamon
so-called Chinese style gate that provided entry and exit to the tomb of the deceased destroyed

奥院中門
oku no in

nakamon
presumably the gate to another small fence around the hōtō destroyed

水盤舎
suibansha
water basins for ritual purification destroyed

石灯籠
ishidōrō
traditional stone lanterns scattered all over the Kantō area

銅燈
dōdōrō 
copper lanterns scattered all over the Kantō area

御成門
o-nari mon
private “backdoor” entrance to Zōjō-ji for the private use of the shōgun[ii]. extant and in fair condition Tōkyō Prince Hotel

Located inside Ietsugu’s complex, was another mortuary temple for the 9th shōgun, Ieshige, who was co-enshrined at Yūshōin. I’ll talk more about that in a later article.

Nitenmon, the Main Gate

The main gate of many Buddhist temples is a 二天門 nitenmon. The name doesn’t mean “main gate” it means “2 ten” gate. the character 天 ten (“heaven”) refers to the names of the 2 deities that are housed inside of the gate. Next time you visit an Edo Period temple, see if you see this type of gate. Here’s a little background on a famous Nitenmon located at Sensō-ji, a famous tourist destination in Tōkyō (note the connection to the Tokugawa… see what I did there?).

I can’t find any pictures from the before the firebombing, so you’ll have to do with modern pictures.

The nitenmon is in deplorable condition. It's in the original location, but the property is no longer Zojo-ji.  It's now on the Tokyo Prince Hotel's land, a stone's throw from the main entrance to Zojo-ji.

The nitenmon is in deplorable condition.
It’s in the original location, but the property is no longer Zojo-ji.
It’s now on the Tokyo Prince Hotel’s land, a stone’s throw from the main entrance to Zojo-ji.

Go back to my article on Daitokuin and check out Hidetada's So-mon (essentially a nitenmon). Then look at this one. I wish they'd restore it or just tear it down.

Go back to my article on Daitokuin and check out Hidetada’s So-mon (essentially a nitenmon).
Then look at this one.
I wish they’d restore it or just tear it down.

ietsugu_nitenmon_modern (2)

Seriously, WTF, people???

ietsugu_nitenmon_modern (4)

If this were restored, it would be a fantastic addition to the Shiba area.

広目天 Kōmokuten (Virupaksha in Sanskrit) - basically a pissed off deity.

広目天 Kōmokuten (Virupaksha in Sanskrit) – basically a pissed off deity.

多聞天 (Tamonten, generally equivocated with the other Japanese kami, Bishamonten - one of the 7 gods of good luck).

多聞天 (Tamonten, generally equivocated with the other Japanese kami, Bishamonten – one of the 7 gods of good luck).
Still… dude looks pissed off as hell.
A message to Edo riff raff, don’t try to pull any shit inside the mausoleum precinct.

Imperial Scroll Gate

After walking through the nitenmon (main entrance), you would come to a courtyard which led to the next gate, the imperial scroll gate. By now you know what an imperial scroll gate is, so I’m not going to harp on it. However, apparently the scroll gate of Yūshōin was considered a masterpiece for its ostentatious color, gold leafing and most of all, for its elaborate wood carvings.

View of the courtyard between the main entrance (right) and the imperial scroll gate (left) from the o-narimon (the shogun's private entrance).

View of the courtyard between the main entrance (right) and the imperial scroll gate (left) from the o-narimon (the shogun’s private entrance).

zozyoji_k11

View of the imperial scroll gate and behind it you can see the nakamon (middle gate) of the haiden (worship hall).

View of the imperial scroll gate and behind it you can see the nakamon (middle gate) of the haiden (worship hall).

After passing thru the Nitenmon, this would be the next thing you see - the scroll gate.

After passing thru the Nitenmon, this would be the next thing you see – the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

Most surviving pictures of this mausoleum of this gate. It was obviously something to behold.

Most surviving pictures of this mausoleum of this gate.
It was obviously something to behold.

Nakamon and Oku no In

After you passed through the scroll gate, you’d find the bell tower on your right.

Backside of the imperial scroll gate and the bell tower.

Backside of the imperial scroll gate and the bell tower.

Bell Tower and the back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Bell Tower and the back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Oku no in – Inner Sanctuary

Not sure what most of these structures are… except for the water basins, etc….

1812

Perhaps the Ai no Ma

The water basin and the well.

The water basin and the well.

0033_shiba_go06_img06-16

Not exactly sure, but probably part of the haiden or honden.

増上寺s旧御霊屋s008

Not exactly sure, but probably part of the haiden or honden.

portico inside the haiden

portico inside the haiden

After we leave the haiden, we enter another courtyard and then come to the Chinese Style Gate.

After we leave the haiden, we enter another courtyard and then come to the Chinese Style Gate.

Tamaya – the graveyard

After passing through the Chinese Gate, we come to the actual graveyard.

A bronze okunoin nakamon leading to tomb

A bronze okunoin nakamon leading to tomb

Ietsugu's grave today....

Ietsugu’s grave today….

What About that Secret Shogun Door you Mentioned?

Well, yes… there was a special gate for the shōgun which was called 御成門 o-nari mon.
But it wasn’t a secret.
In fact, it was so famous that even today there is a train station named 御成門駅 onarimon eki onarimon station. And the neighborhood itself is also called onarimon.

The shogun's private entrance....

The shogun’s private entrance….
(shot from inside Yushoin, I think.

The shogun's private gate,

The shogun’s private gate,
Notice the bansho (check point) on the left.

O-nari mon.... the shogun's back door......

O-nari mon…. the shogun’s back door……
(that’s what she said!)

back of the o-narimon

back of the shogun’s backdoor – o-nari mon

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[i] I have no idea how to render this name. 有 means exist and in Buddhism refers to a bhavana. 章 is a kind of poem or composition. He died when he was 6, so they couldn’t very well make a posthumous name based on his reign. Maybe it has something to do with his studies. Or it could just be random.

[ii] The term 御成り o-nari refers to the presence of the shōgun. In the Edo Period, this gate would have been referred to as 御成御門 o-nari go-mon, but today the casual form is used and the second 御 is dropped. By the way, this gate was not technically an entrance to Yūshōin per se, but a general entrance to Zōjō-ji that just happened to be located at the outer wall of the site. The gate led to the courtyards between the main gates (nitenmon) and imperial scroll gates of Yūshōin and Bunshōin.

Bunshoin

In Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 4, 2013 at 7:02 pm

文昭院
Bunshōin  (Divine Prince of Illumination)
六代将軍徳川家宣公
6th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ienobu
Zōjō-ji

The 6th shogun, Yoshinobu.

The 6th shogun, Ienobu.

OK, so now we’re well into the Edo Period.

The shōgunate has established two bodaiji (funerary temples) at Zōjō-ji and Kan’ei-ji. In order of succession, they’ve enshrined the rulers; at Nikkō, at Zōjō-ji, at Nikkō, and then at Kan’ei-ji, and again at Kan’ei-ji. In my first article on Tokugawa Funerary Temples, I mentioned that interment in Edo alternated between Kan’ei-ji and Zōjō-ji. But so far, we’ve got only one enshrinement at Zōjō-ji and two consecutive enshrinements at Kan’ei-ji. So, now it’s time to balance the scales and so today we’re traveling back south down to Zōjō-ji on the occasion of the interment of the 6th shōgun, Tokugawa Ienobu.

It should be noted that as my research into these places goes on, I’ve been noticing some trends. The main thing is that the mortuary temples of Zōjō-ji are much better documented that those of Kan’ei-ji. I have some semi-educated guesses as to why this is. But if anyone knows something I don’t, I’d love to hear it.

In my article on Daitokuin, I tried to provide as many photos of the non-extant structures as possible. If you compare those pictures with the surviving structures, you can get a sense of the original. If you look at the existing structures at Nikkō and imagine them dialed down a little bit, you really can start to imagine how the original looked and felt. After reading this article, again I encourage you to look at the pictures at Kan’ei-ji and notice the parallels and differences. It should help to imagine the original.

Because of group enshrinements[i], describing Ienobu’s Bunshōin in charts as I have done with previous shrines is a little difficult. Apparently it was a massive funerary complex, rivaling Hidetada’s Daitokuin, only a little smaller. And like Daitokuin, it was a major sightseeing spot in Tōkyō until its destruction in the Great Tōkyō Air Raid on March 10th 1945[ii].

Structures of Bunshōin

Structure Name Description Condition Status
本殿
honden
the main hall destroyed

相之間
ai no ma
in gongen-zukuri architecture, the structure that connects the honden and haiden. destroyed

拝殿
haiden
the inner or private worship hall destroyed

前廊
zenrō
a latticework fence that forms the border to a temple destroyed

中門
nakamon
The “middle gate” which usually opens from a court yard into the worship hall  destroyed

左右廊
sayūrō
portico on the left and right side of a shrine destroyed

渡廊
watarō
portico destroyed

透塀
sukibei
latticework fence that encloses a temple or shrine destroyed

内透塀
uchi-sukibei
?
name means inner latticework fence
destroyed

外透塀
soto-sukibei
?
name means outer latticework fence
destroyed

仕切門
shikirimon
entrance to the oku no in destroyed

鐘楼
shōrō
belfry, bell tower destroyed

井戸屋形
ido yakata 
roof over a well, or spring destroyed

勅額門
chokugaku
mon
imperial scroll gate; posthumous name of the deceased hand written by the emperor which marked the official entrance to the funerary temple destroyed

二天門
niten mon
main gate, protected by 2 gods destroyed

奥院波板塀
oku no in

nami itabei
“wave fence” made of planks around the
inner sanctuary
(the 板 ita kanji is the same one from Itabashi and refers to planks of wood)
destroyed

奥院拝殿
oku no in

haiden
worship hall within the inner sanctuary destroyed

奥院宝塔
oku no in hōtō
A copper 2-story pagoda styled funerary urn that houses the remains of the deceased fair condition in the Tokugawa Graveyard at Zōjō-ji
奥院唐門
oku no in
karamon
so-called Chinese style gate that provided entry and exit to the tomb of the deceased destroyed

奥院中門
oku no in

nakamon
presumably the gate to another small fence around the hōtō extant and functional, but damaged now the entrance to the Tokugawa Graveyard at Zōjō-ji
水盤舎
suibansha
water basins for ritual purification destroyed

石灯籠
ishidōrō
traditional stone lanterns 37 are scattered about Zōjō-ji [iii]

銅燈
dōdōrō 
copper lanterns;
there were 138 copper lanterns at Bunshōin
95 still exist Fudō-ji in Saitma.

The list above roughly itemizes the main structures at Bunshōin as they relate to the 6th shōgun, Tokugawa Ienobu. As mentioned before, other shōguns were enshrined here. The ridiculous amount of copper lanterns reflects total from all of the enshrinements. Only 95 exist today.

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Maps of Zoujou-ji after Daitokuin.

Map from a 1937 English language travel guide.  In the center you can see Zojo-ji's main gate and temple. On the left is Daitokuin, on the right large complex is Bunshoin and some of the other shoguns' graves.

Map from a 1937 English language travel guide.
At number 12, you can see Zojo-ji’s main temple.
On the left is Daitokuin, the complex immediately on the right right is Bunshoin, next to that are some of the other shoguns’ graves.
Click to enlarge.

Another map of Zojo-ji. In the middle you can see the main temple. To the left of it, Daitokuin. To the immediate right is Bunshoin.

Another map of Zojo-ji.
In the middle you can see the main temple.
To the left of it, Daitokuin.
To the immediate right is Bunshoin.
Click to enlarge.

Here's a close up of the map above. The main structures are labeled for her pleasure.

Here’s a close up of the map above.
The main structures are labeled for her pleasure.

As you can see in the labeled map above, the layout of the 6th shōgun’s tomb and the 7th shōgun’s tomb is nearly identical up to the nakamon (middle gate). Because of this and because the similar design, I got a bit confused at what pictures I was looking at. Some other people have too, so some of the pictures I’ve come across online were mislabeled. I’m fairly certain, I have most of the pictures straight, but be aware, some of these might be from the 7th shōgun’s funerary temple — I’ll mention if I’m not sure.

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Imperial Scroll Gate

Front view of the Imperial Scroll Gate.

Front view of the Imperial Scroll Gate.
Note the bell tower in the background.

View of the backside of the Imperial Scroll Gate.

View of the backside of the Imperial Scroll Gate.

Back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Same shot, different cropping.

Same shot, different cropping.

I'm pretty sure this is Bunshoin (Ienobu), but it might be Yushoin (Ietsugu). It's hard to tell with the coloration and without being able to see the imperial scroll (plaque).

I’m pretty sure this is Bunshoin (Ienobu),
but it might be Yushoin (Ietsugu).
It’s hard to tell with the coloration and without being able to see the imperial scroll (plaque).

Bell Tower

After passing through the imperial scroll gate, there was a bell tower on the right hand side.

After passing through the imperial scroll gate, there was a bell tower on the right hand side.
In the background you can see the nami itabei (“wave fence” made of wooden planks).

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Oku no In
(The Inner Sanctum)

The water basin was required for ritual purification before entering the oku no in (the inner sanctum). To get to this area, you had to pass through the nakamon (middle gate) which brought you to fenced in 榔 rō area surrounding the haiden. The haiden was the building for worship.

The suibansha, or water basin.  You can see the wall of the

The suibansha, or water basin.
You can see the zenro in the background.
That’s the fence connected to the nakamon which leads to the haiden (worship hall).

Nakamon (middle gate) which leads to the haiden (worship hall).

Nakamon (middle gate) which leads to the haiden (worship hall).

拝殿 中門

Same picture, different processing.

Inside the sayuro (the porticos on the left and right  side of the zenro) surrounding the main hall.

Inside the sayuro (the porticos on the left and right side of the zenro) surrounding the main hall.

A close up of the wooden carvings decorating the inside of the haiden.

A close up of the wooden carvings and paintings decorating the inside of the haiden.

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Tamaya – The Graveyard

It took me forever to figure out wtf a shikirimon was in shrine/temple architecture. It's the gate that leads out of the oku no in to the next area which is the graveyard. If you look through the gate, you can see a stairway. This is a key feature of Bunshoin, the funerary urn itself was located at the top of the hill.

It took me forever to figure out wtf a shikirimon was in shrine/temple architecture.
It’s the gate that leads out of the oku no in to the next area which is the graveyard.
If you look through the gate, you can see a stairway.
This is a key feature of Bunshoin, the funerary urn itself was located at the top of the hill.

The stair way leads to the karamon (Chinese style gate). Beyond the gate is the cemetery.

The stair way leads to the karamon (Chinese style gate).
Beyond the gate is the cemetery.

Same shot, different cropping.

Same shot, different cropping.

After passing through the karamon, we come to another nakamon. This is a copper (bronze?) gate, typical of the type that surround the actual graveyard.

After passing through the karamon, we come to another nakamon. This is a copper (bronze?) gate, typical of the type that surround the actual graveyard. And another stairway….

The gate still exists. Not sure if they moved it, but my gut instinct says it's in the same place as it originally was. Today it is the entrance to the Tokugawa Cemetery, which houses the graves of the other shoguns enshrined at Zojo-ji. My guess is that the area is original tamaya of Ienobu.

The gate still exists.
Not sure if they moved it, but my gut instinct says it’s in the same place as it originally was.
Today it is the entrance to the Tokugawa Cemetery, which houses the graves of the other shoguns enshrined at Zojo-ji.
My guess is that the area is original tamaya of Ienobu.

A view of the steps to the tamaya (cemetery). You can see the wooden fence and the stone walls and stairway.  Today, only the gate exists.

A view of the steps to the tamaya (cemetery).
You can see the wooden fence and the stone walls and stairway.
Today, only the gate exists.

nakamon - karamon (3)

Close up of the Tokugawa family crest on the former nakamon (tamaya gate).

nakamon - karamon (4)

The two metal panels on the left and right of the gate feature ascending and descending dragons respectively.
The bronze (copper?) has rusted so badly that you can hardly see the dragons unless you look for them.
This is a descending dragon.

tokugawa_ienobu_grave

2-story pagoda style funerary urn.
It’s nice that some of his stone lanterns are still there.

tokugawa_ienobu_grave222

Here you can easily see that the grave is made of copper (bronze?) as opposed to the stone base.

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Lanterns

Copper (bronze?) lanterns at Fudo-ji in Saitama.  Many lanterns were salvaged from the firebombed mausolea at Zojo-ji and moved to Fudo-ji.  I'm not sure which mausoleum these particular lanterns are from, but they are most definitely from Zojo-ji.  And, you know, a lantern is a lantern, basically...

Copper (bronze?) lanterns at Fudo-ji in Saitama.
Many lanterns were salvaged from the firebombed mausolea at Zojo-ji and moved to Fudo-ji.
I’m not sure which mausoleum these particular lanterns are from, but they are most definitely from Zojo-ji.
And, you know, a lantern is a lantern, basically…

bunshoin_stone_lantern

A stone lantern clearly marked
BUNSHOIN.

Sadly, all that exists of Bunshōin today are those lanterns scattered across Tokyo and Saitama (seemingly at random) and the gate to the modern shōgun cemetery and Ienobu’s funerary urn. The Tokugawa Shōgun Cemetery was created after WWII to put all the 2-story pagoda style urns together in one place. As we continue this series, you’ll see that originally the graves were very much separate.

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[i] I’ve alluded to these group enshrinements before, but keep in mind that up to now, the shōgunate has been throwing mad cash at funerary temples. This will stop eventually.

[ii] By the way, what kind of assholes firebomb a major metropolitan city’s greatest works of art and private residences in the middle of March when it’s still cold as shit outside at night??? The longer I do this series, the more pissed off I get about the destruction of these treasures. It’s bad enough that the Meiji government tore down so many castles, but they left a lot of beautiful temples and shrines alone despite their connection to the Tokugawa – only to have the Americans indiscriminately bomb the fuck out of them, never to be rebuilt.

[iii] This website catalogs where all of Zōjō-ji’s stone lanterns are located now (Japanese only).
http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/tom-itou/

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