marky star

Posts Tagged ‘maeda’

What does Hachiōji mean?

In Japanese History on October 8, 2015 at 7:37 pm

八王子
Hachiōji (8 Princes, more at “8-in-1 Godhead”)

Hachiōji Station

Hachiōji Station

Hachiōji  is made of 2 Japanese words:


hachi

8

王子
ōji

A prince; a child born of a 神 kami divine being; a kami split from another kami and re-enshrined at another location
Hiking up a mountain? Nice! Wait. Why is there a torii there?

Hiking up a mountain?
Nice!
Wait. Why is there a torii there?

This spring, I was lucky enough to take a hike[i] around the ruins of 八王子城 Hachiōji-jō Hachiōji Castle with my friend Eric from Jcastle.info – the premier purveyor of Japanese castle info in English on the internet™. The castle was built on a mountain (more about that later), but as we hiked towards the top of the mountain, near the 本丸 honmaru main encincture[ii], we arrived at a simple, wooden shrine. The building bore a single, modest placard that read 八王子神社 Hachiōji Jinja Hachiōji Shrine.

Faced with this shrine, I had to wonder which had come first. Was the shrine named after the place name or was the place name named after the shrine? These are legit questions to ask and both of them were questions I had never looked into before. After all, Hachiōji  – while part of the Tōkyō Metropolis – is well outside of the 23 wards and kinda off my radar. “So, does Hachiōji mean there were 8 princes here?” Eric asked.

Hachiōji Shrine

Hachiōji Shrine

Yeah, on the surface, the name reads as “8 princes.” But I said I doubted the name should be taken that literally[iii]. Earlier in the year, I had begun to research a place called 王子 Ōji[iv] in Tōkyō’s 北区 Kita-ku Kita Ward and found myself bogged down in more religious mumbo jumbo and mythology than actual history. To make matters worse, I had “lost” my article on Ōji. I couldn’t find it anywhere[v].  So I just speculated that the name had more to do with Shintō kami that had been divided from another location and installed in this shrine at the top of the mountain. Anyways, that’s what I had taken away from my preliminary research on Ōji. I probably gave a half-ass explanation followed by “to be honest, I don’t fucking know.”

one does not simply etymology

I hate this meme, by the way.

But It Is! This Shit is Really Frickin’ Complicated

First of all, when you introduce religion into the discussion, things naturally get complicated. When you start talking about syncretic religions, things get waaaaay more complicated. When you talk about religions that were once syncretic, then separated by rule of law – often arbitrarily – and then later allowed to merge again under the banner of the constitutional freedom of religion and a newly found fear of religion as a mechanism of control by a former regime, things get even more complicated.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Since Buddhism traveled from Northern India to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, to Thailand, as well as northwards through Afghanistan, the Himalayan Kingdoms, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Korea, and finally to Japan – well, let’s just say that a lot got lost in an insane game of telephone.

Whoa. WTF Are You Talking About??

Long time readers should probably know what I’m talking about. However, if you’re new to JapanThis!, then I highly recommend my last article about Ōji.

It’s long. It’s rambling. But it does a lot of the heavy lifting you need to understand this place name.

Syncretic is an adjective derived from the noun syncretism. Syncretism is the reconciliation or union of opposing religious concepts. Japan has been historically and still is a polytheistic culture. Before the introduction of Buddhism, it was polytheistic in the classical sense. As a result, introducing 菩薩 bosatsu bodhisattvas (enlightened teachers) of the Buddhist tradition was not such a big problem. The buddhas, while not gods in the Western sense, were accepted as kami (divine spirits) in Japan. Today, even Christianity, a monotheistic religion, can find a reconciled position in polytheistic Japan[vi].

In 1868, the Meiji Government passed an edict called 神仏判然令 Shinbutsu Hanzen-rei Order to Separate Shintō and Buddhism. I’ve gone into this a lot and don’t want to get into again, so you can read more here. But in short, Shintō and Buddhism were seen to be a little too syncretic. Shintō had strong historical ties to the imperial family. Buddhism had a strong association with the samurai class and the shōgunate in particular. In efforts to rebrand itself, the new imperial government wanted to throw off those ancient Buddhist trappings and play up the divine right of the emperor as the legitimate ruler of Japan.

The thing that is really important to know is that before 1868 (ie; before all of our story today), Buddhism and Shintō syncretism was the norm. And in the early days of Japanese Buddhism, the foreign religion was actively incorporated into the native Shintō to give it legitimacy. But just for the record, there’s a lot of archaeological evidence dating back to the Jōmon Period that shows that Shintō has always been syncretic and probably integrated various foreign influences even before the earliest written record.

In this case, we're going to A LOT of context. I apologize in advance for how long and confusing this is. But trust me, at the end, it's gonna get good.

In this case, we’re going to need A LOT of context.
I apologize in advance for how long and confusing this is.
But trust me, at the end, it’s gonna get good.

OK, So What Does Hachiōji  Mean?

You’re asking the wrong question. The correct question is, “what does Hachiōji mean and why are there places called Hachiōji  all over Japan?”

八王子権現 Hachiōji  Gongen is the name of a kami that is the syncretic incarnation of 日吉山王権現 Hiyoshi Sannō Gongen (the Shintō aspect[vii]) and 牛頭天王 Gozu Tennō (the Buddhist aspect). Incarnation is a good word in English if you don’t take it literally[viii]. Gozu Tennō is usually attributed to the Indian god, Gavagrīva[ix]. The connection is obscure, but tradition says[x] worship of Gavagrīva is a possible origin of the 祇園祭 Gion Matsuri in Kyōto[xi] because Gozu Tennō was the deity invoked to prevent plagues and ward off crop failures due to insects, same as Gavagrīva. Gozu Tennō is often considered the Buddhist avatar of 須佐之男命 Susano’o no Mikoto[xii], god of storms at sea and summer.

I don't know why but gongen are usually depicted as angry pieces of shit who like stomping on stuff. Good for them.

I don’t know why but gongen are usually depicted as angry pieces of shit who like stomping on stuff.
Good for them.
This isn’t Hachiōji Gongen, btw.

8 Princes?

There are always 8 王子 ōji associated with Hachiōji Gongen, hence the name. At the beginning of the article, I listed 3 possible meanings of the word 王子 ōji. In Modern Japanese, the most common meaning is “royal prince.” But in this case, we have to turn to the more obscure meanings. Unfortunately, there are a few religious traditions that are at odds with each other. So, Hachiōji Shrine can refer to any shrine housing the first 8 child gods of Gozu Tennō and 頗梨采女 Hari Saijo[xiii].  It can also refer to any shrine housing the first 8 child gods of Susano’o no Mikoto and Hari Saijo. In most traditions, Gozu Tennō – a male – seems to have been merged with the female Hari Saijo. But depending on whom you ask, Hari Saijo is either the feminine aspect of Gozu Tennō or his wife[xiv].

A modern rendering of Hari Saijo

A modern rendering of Hari Saijo

Confused?

You’re not the only one. I’m literally pulling out my hair, shouting at the screen of the computer. But hang on. Things are about to get a whole lot weirder.

confusing

The Gion Connection

Anyone who has ever visited Kyōto knows 祇園 Gion. This area of the city is located at the entrance of 八坂神社 Yasaka Jinja Yasaka Shrine. It’s a lively area that preserves a lot of traditional aspects of the city’s culture. Yasaka Shrine is a huge religious complex and it hosts one Kyōto’s most famous 夏祭 natsu matsuri summer festivals. Since the Edo Period, the area has been famous for both the festival and as a 花街 kagai red light district[xv]. The most prized aspect of this area is without a doubt 芸子 geiko – the Kyōto word for what most of us know as 芸者 geisha.

21362065671_5ba9b87799_k

These are maiko (geisko in training).
Please click photo to see more photos by Rekishi no Tabi. Trust me, subscribe.

In Japanese Buddhism, Gozu Tennō is revered as the protector of 祇園精舎 Gion Shōja. This is the Japanese rendering of “Jetavana Monastery,” the place where 釈迦 Shaka Gautama Buddha[xvi] is said to have given his most influential lectures. By association with that spot, this kami is considered the patron saint of Buddhism – or at least the patron saint of Japanese Buddhism.

Hari Saijo’s association with Jetavana and Gozu Tennō makes this story even more complicated because it’s not clear if she is a Buddhist, Shintō, or purely syncretic construct. It’s not even clear if she was a female aspect of Gozu Tennō or his wife.

han solo

Yasaka Shrine’s Ancient Connection with Hachiōji

But as I said before, Jetavana is written as 祇園 Gion in Japanese. In 656, 祇園社 Gion-sha Gion Shrine (Jetavana Shrine) was established in Kyōto. The shrine was also known as 祇園神社 Gion Jinja Gion Shrine. Among the kami enshrined there was Susano’o no Mikoto, the brother of Amaterasu Ōmikami[xvii]. Until the Meiji Coup in 1868, the shrine served the syncretic deities of Gozu Tennō/Susano’o no Mikoto /Hari Saijo. This kami kluster™ was believed to protect not only Kyōto but all of Japan from plagues and pestilence. But after the Meiji Government issued the decree to separate kami and buddhas, Gion Shrine found itself in a difficult position.

Jetavana

Jetavana

To make itself right with the law and strip away its obvious Buddhist trappings, the shrine was renamed, 八坂神社 Yasaka Jinja Yasaka Shrine, which literally means Shrine of the 8 Hills. This was a shrewd move by the priests who recognized that Kyōto is a hilly city and number 8 is an important reference to 8 child gods of Gozu Tennō or Susano’o no Mikoto. Surely to the believers, there was no difference. This was just an act of compliance to an imperial decree.

Adopting the kanji 八 ha/ya 8 strikes me a classic Kyōto “eff you.” Kyōto revels in its ancient traditions and prides itself in its esoteric culture. The priests of Gion Shrine (now Yasaka Shrine) probably knew nothing of Hachiōji Shrine in Kantō, but the renaming of the shrine reflected their astute understanding of what kami they were worshiping.

Kyōto's Yasaka Shrine in the early Meiji Period.

Kyōto’s Yasaka Shrine in the early Meiji Period.

You Gave about 1500 Years of Backstory. Can You Talk About Hachiōji in Tōkyō?
That’s Why I’m Reading Your Blog, Asshole.

Yes, of course.

but…

yo dawg

NOW FOR THE STORY OF WHY HACHIŌJI IS CALLED HACHIŌJI

In 913, a Buddhist priest from Kyōto named 妙行 Myōkō came to this area and climbed to the peak of 深沢山 Fukazawa-yama Mt. Fukazawa. He sat for a few days at the peak of the mountain meditating and reflecting… or whatever it is that Buddhist priests do at the tops of mountains. On his last day, at night time, strong winds began to blow. There was loud thunder and ominous lightning. During the course of the night, he was visited by many different kinds of 妖怪 yōkai strange apparitions. He wasn’t afraid of them and persisted in his meditation… or whatever it is the Buddhists priests do alone late at night on the tops of mountains. The yōkai disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. Later, a giant snake approached him, but he tapped the snake on the head with his walking stick and the serpent also disappeared. When dawn arrived, a 神 kami god flanked by 8 boys. He announced that he was Myōkō’s guardian deity. Naturally, Myōkō  was curious about who this deity was. When Myōkō asked his name, the kami said, “I am 八王子 Hachi Ōji the 8 Princes who accompany 牛頭天王 Gozu Tennō. We are eight in one.”

hachioji gongen

of course you are

Myōkō was moved by this vision and founded 8 shrines dedicated to this kami on 8 different mountain peaks[xviii]. He also founded a temple called 牛頭山神護寺 Gozu-san Shingo-ji at the base of Mt. Fukazawa. As far as I could find, there are not 8 shrines preserved today[xix]. Legend says that the Hachiōji Shrine that I visited with Eric from Jcastle marks the location where Myōkō had his visions. So that site is most definitely preserved. The temple, Shingo-ji, still exists, but under a different name and in a slightly different location. More about that later.

Because of the mountain’s association with Hachiōji Shrine, locals began to affectionately refer to the mountain as 八王子山 Hachiōji-yama Mt. Hachiōji rather than Mt. Fukazawa. The area has always been quite rural and was even more so until recent years, so having such an ancient syncretic shrine was quite prestigious. Remember, it was established in the 900’s and was indirectly related to one of Kyōto’s most famous religious complexes, Gion Shrine (Yasaka Shrine).

The place name, 八王子村Hachiōji Mura Hachiōji Village, is first recorded in 1569 in a letter written by北条氏康 Hōjō Ujiyasu[xx]. Ujiyasu was a fierce samurai warlord who was at constant warfare expanding his family’s holdings in the 関東 Kantō area. Despite being at constant warfare, he was apparently also conducting constant cadastral surveys. As a result, a lot of Kantō place names were either first recorded or formalized in his time.

giphy

Hachiōji Castle – A Dark Claim to Fame

In the 1580’s, 北条氏照 Hōjō Ujiteru, second son of Hōjō Ujiyasu, chose Mt. Fukazawa to build a mountain top castle. The castle was named after the village and was thus known as 八王子城 Hachiōji-jō Hachiōji Castle. Ujiteru and his family became patrons of Shingo-ji and used it as a 菩提寺 bodai-ji funerary temple. The castle and temple could have both had illustrious histories. However, the Hōjō clan collectively refused to bow down to 豊臣秀吉 Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Since 1585, Hideyoshi had been the imperial regent in Kyōto – essentially the most powerful man in Japan. The Hōjō clan stubbornly stood their ground and they would pay a terrible price.

Hachiōji Castle was really defendable.

Hachiōji Castle was really defendable.

On June 23rd, 1590, 前田利家 Maeda Toshiie and 上杉景勝 Uesugi Kagekatsu under orders from Toyotomi Hideyoshi attacked the castle. The lord of the castle, Ujiteru, was in 小田原 Odawara helping his older brother, 北条氏政 Hōjō Ujimasa, fight off Hideyoshi’s siege of  小田原城 Odawara-jō Odawara Castle. Most of his fighting men were with him in Odawara and so Hachiōji Castle was manned by a skeleton crew – mostly women, children, servants, but also some samurai retainers[xxi] entrusted with protecting the castle. The castle fell in a matter of hours and the battle is generally described as an all-out slaughter.

A quiet waterfall and creek a short distance from the residence of Ujiteru and his family was chosen by his wife for the defenders’ final act. The women killed the children by throwing them over the waterfall, and then committed suicide themselves. Samurai also assisted in the “mercy killings” and then committed 切腹 seppuku ritual disembowelment. The creek was said to have run red with blood for 3 days and 3 nights. The bloody water flowed into the rice paddies located downstream. The farmers were appalled to find that their rice has been stained red when they harvested the next crop.

The spot where the family and retainers are to have killed themselves.

The spot where the family and retainers are to have killed themselves.

A few weeks later, on July 7, 1590, Odawara Castle fell to Hideyoshi. Kantō was no longer independent and Hideyoshi’s control over the realm was more or less complete. After the fall of Odawara, both Hōjō Ujiteru and his older brother Hōjō Ujimasa were ordered to commit seppuku. Hōjō control ended in the Kantō region[xxii].


After The Fall of Hachiōji Castle

The main structures of Hachiōji castles were burned in the attack and after 徳川家康 Tokugawa Ieyasu was given control of the 8 Kantō Provinces, he didn’t regard the site strategically important. As such, the castle was never rebuilt and just fell into ruin. It was soon reclaimed by the forests of the mountain.

17202090028_69939a42d2_k

The Hōjō funerary temple, Shingo-ji, was now tainted by the bloodbath that saw the destruction of its largest benefactor. It chose to re-invent itself as 宗関寺 Sōkan-ji a year after the fall of the castle[xxiii]. Sōkan-ji is still home to the graves of Hōjō Ujiteru’s family, though they are in abject dereliction today. Over the years, the locals began to call Mt. Fukazawa 城山 Shiroyama “Old Castle Mountain.[xxiv]

Ujiteru's grave

Ujiteru’s grave

The Haunted Mountain

Old people who live in the immediate vicinity of Shiroyama claim it’s haunted by the ghosts of the Hōjō and their retainers. As far back as the Edo Period, people said that when mist covered the mountain, you could hear the din of a samurai battle, the sound of the burning 御主殿 go-shuden lord’s residence, the neighing of warhorses, and – most disturbingly – the wailing of noblewomen as they slit their children’s throats and threw their lifeless bodies into the river.

A few families with a long history in the immediate area (元八王子 Moto Hachiōji Old Hachiōji) have a tradition of serving 赤飯 akameshi[xxv] rice with red beans on the anniversary of the attack. The color of the red beans bleeds out and stains the white rice – a reminder of the slaughter that took place on “Old Castle Mountain” staining the rice of their ancestors.

Hachiōji Unearthed

During WWII, the mountain was heavily deforested. However, in the post-war years, the mountain was reforested with ヒノキ hi no ki Japanese Cypress trees, a particularly tall tree[xxvi]. The main reason that I mention this is because when I visited the castle ruins with Eric of Jcastle, I commented on how rich the vegetation was and how tall the trees were. Of course, felled trees could be used to build wooden fortifications, but it really looked like a lot of work for people with 1590’s technology to hack through a forest to construct a castle. Considering how far apart some of the military installations and residential installations were spaced, it just seemed overwhelming.

Well, I’m not a castle expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it got me thinking. I wonder if the mountain’s vegetation was different prior to 1945? Would that have even made any difference?

This image offers a deforested vision of the castle.

This image offers a deforested vision of the castle.

From 1951, excavation and restoration of the castle began in earnest. While most of the wooden structures were lost to the sands of time, many 石垣 ishigaki stone walls were located. In the 80’s and 90’s, a few interesting attributes of the castle emerged. The first was that most of the stone walls were simple reinforcements of the hillside paths to prevent erosion. However, the go-shuden (residence of Hōjō Ujiteru himself) featured impressive walls with a more esthetic purpose, very in line with Azuchi-Momoyama castle construction of the time. These walls seemed to project the lord’s authority and his sophistication. In the early 90’s shards of pottery from Venice and China were found on the site of the lord’s residence. All of this physical evidence led some scholars to believe that Ujiteru’s 1580 audition with Oda Nobunaga may have influenced the design of the residential area of the castle and… maybe, just maybe… he acquired these exotic goods from Nobunaga himself[xxvii]. Furthermore, some scholars have pointed at the discrepancy in stone wall construction as evidence that the castle may not have been finished at the time of the attack.

17203397829_bb0b40eaed_z (1)

Hachiōji Castle Reborn

In 1973, a tradition was started by some local history nerds who took particular pride in the castle. With the cooperation of Sōkan-ji, they decided to perform a Buddhist memorial service on June 23rd at the 御主殿之滝 go-shuden no taki palace waterfall to appease the spirits of those who died in the battle. The service took place at the 六字の名号塔 Mutsu-ji no Myōgō-tō 6 Kanji Tower[xxviii] erected in 1817. One commentator I read said that he thinks this memorial tradition should be considered the rebirth in the interest in Hachiōji  Castle as the site has only grown in popularity, culminating with its inclusion in the 日本百名城 Nihon Hyaku Meijō 100 Famous Castles of Japan in 2006. I don’t know if they still do it now. But when I visited the castle, there were offerings at the Mutsu-ji no Myōgō-tō left by castle fans or maybe Sōkan-ji.

Today, the castle is mostly a hiking spot. But it has a small museum that takes the site quite seriously. They have a volunteer staff that is enthusiastic and outgoing. The reconstructed stone walls and roads around Ujiteru’s residence is pretty amazing, I have to say. But as far as archaeological sites from this period in Japanese History go, I’m 100% impressed. I actually want to go back when the leaves start changing colors.

Wanna read more about Hachiōji Castle?

Please Support My Blog
It Don’t Write Itself™
⇨ Click Here to Donate via Patreon ⇦
BTC: 1HsKqFBVbyKTwMF3rzCprdw7aYv13fbi2A
(I’ve begun making exclusive videos for patrons)

___________________________________
[i] If you want to go hiking in Japan, this is really a fantastic spot – even if you don’t care about Japanese History.
[ii] As a person used to castles built after the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (ie; state of the art at the beginning of the Edo Period), I was surprised to see how small the honmaru was. It was essentially the last refuge for the lord should the very worst befall the castle. And while Hachiōji Castle was, in fact, built during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period, its design was much more like the fortress type “castles” of the Sengoku Period than the impressive and luxurious castles ushered in by the stability afforded by the “relative peace” of 織田信長 Oda Nobunaga and 豊臣秀吉 Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Those later castles – while clearly military installments – were much more palace-like than fort-like. The scale and design is more beautiful and expresses the wealth, might, and military authority of the residing lord. At Hachiōji Castle, the honmaru seems like the place to make your last stand or commit suicide.
[iii] 王子 ōji, while it does mean “imperial prince,” has another meaning of a kami that has been split for enshrinement in another shrine. The process of 分霊 bunrei dividing spirits is the way clan members could bring their ancestral tutelary kami with them as they expanded their territories. The policy of 参勤交代 sankin-kōtai alternate attendance brought tutelary kami of all the daimyō families to Edo. Because of this, it’s not unusual to find satellite shrines of major from all over Japan in Tōkyō.
[iv] Please, please, read my article on Ōji first.
[v] This is why you shouldn’t write your blog under the influence of alcohol. Ugh!
[vi] That said, it’s famously unpopular in Japan because of its own lack of toleration for the traditional kami (deities) of Japan. Religion – what a goof.
[vii] This kami is closely connected to the Shintō aspect of 日枝山 Hiezan Mt. Hie in Kyōto. This mountain’s kami and Buddhist temple, 延暦寺 Enryaku-ji, are famous for the 僧兵 sōhei warrior monks that pissed off Oda Nobunaga to such a point that he allegedly surrounded the mountain and ordered his armies to march up the mountain and kill everything that moved until they reached the top. Then they burned the temple to the ground. My article on Tameike-Sannō touches on this.
[viii] The meaning of the Latin word incarnārī to be made into flesh was a Christian neologism used to explain away Jesus’ physical, human aspect – despite being a god. I’m pretty sure buddhas and kami don’t physically become flesh and blood. But I think “incarnation” is more readily understood that “avatar” which sounds like a picture on your Twitter account or that stupid movie about the blue space cats.
[ix] I say “usually” because as Buddhism spread from India to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Afghanistan, the Himalayan kingdoms, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Korea, and eventually Japan, it had evolved. Some teachings were lost and some new teachings were acquired. With each new kingdom came new languages and new translations and new iterations of the tradition. Japan, the latest to get on board with Buddhism, had inherited most of its tradition from Korean and China. Gozu Tennō is associated with Gavagrīva by tradition, but the connection is tenuous at best.
[x] This article looks at the relationship of this syncretic kami with Gion.
[xi] More about this in a bit.
[xii] Long time readers hopefully remember Susano’o no Mikoto as the brother of the sun goddess 天照皇大神 Amaterasu Ōmikami, the mythical mother of the imperial family. I directly mentioned this kami in my article on Ushima. I didn’t mention specifically, but he’s associated with this shrine and also this shrine and bridge.
[xiii] A kami that may or may not also be derived from a Hindu god.
[xiv] And this is exactly why I hate religion. The shit is just retarded.
[xv] This word can also be read as hanamachi. I’m not going to get into which is correct because it’s a bit of a mess too…
[xvi] Also known as Shakyamuni or Siddhārtha Gautama. He was the founder of the Buddhist religion.
[xvii] The sun goddess. The imperial family claimed descent from her line.
[xviii] See what he did there?
[xix] Also, a shrine doesn’t necessarily have to mean a formal wooden structure. In theory, it could simply be a simple monument. My sources don’t go into details.
[xx] Not familiar with the name? Samurai Archives has an excellent article on Hōjō Ujiyasu. And just for the record this is the so-called 後北条氏 Go-Hōjō-shi Late Hōjō Clan.
[xxi] None of whose names are relevant to our story.
[xxii] Interestingly, the family line was not abolished. Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu recognized the intelligence of Ujiyasu’s 4th son, 北条氏規 Hōjō Ujinori and his branch of the family were the lords of 河内国狭山藩 Kawachi no Kuni Sayama Han Sayama Domain, Kawachi Province, a minor domain near Ōsaka.
[xxiii] The Sōkan-ji was rebuilt in its present location in 1892 (Meiji 25), not so far away from the location of the original Shingo-ji.
[xxiv] Literally, it’s just “Castle Mountain,” but I added the “Old” to convey the folksy feeling of the Japanese.
[xxv] In the local dialect, 赤飯 is read aka manma.
[xxvi] And one this is allergenic to many people.
[xxvii] As far as influencing castle design, I don’t know how much influence visiting Nobunaga would have actually had. Rich and powerful people always flaunt their wealth and authority and with the “relative stability” of the Azuchi Momoyama Period, there was a definite trend toward flashier residences. As for where Ujiteru acquired the foreign items, without a document saying he got them from Nobunaga, I think this is just a flight of fancy.
[xxviii] The 6 kanji are: 南無阿弥陀仏 Namu Amida Butsu “I believe in Amida.” The Buddhist equivalent of “lord have mercy on me.”

What does Hakusan mean?

In Japanese History on March 23, 2014 at 4:56 am

白山
Hakusan (white mountain)

Hakusan Shrine, Bunkyo Ward.

Hakusan Shrine, Bunkyo Ward.

Today we’re going to wrap up our little journey around 文京区 Bunkyō-ku Bunkyō Ward which has taken us to Myōgadani, Koishikawa, and finally Hakusan. For fans of Bunkyō Ward, don’t worry, we’ll be coming back in the future as there’s a lot to talk about in this area. And if for some reason, you absolutely cannot wait, I have old articles on Suidōbashi and Kichijōji (yes, Kichijōji is related, believe it or not).

Anyways, today’s place name is brought you by the Shintō term 勧請 kanjō. Kanjō refers to the ceremonial transfer or sharing of a 神 kami deity from one shrine to another shrine. We will get deeper into religion in a little bit; but for this story, the specifics of the kanjō[i] aren’t necessary. And to be honest, that’s about all I know about the subject.

The origin of this place name is fairly obvious because it has been recorded independently in two parts of the country at the same time. The name is said to come from 白山神社 Hakusan Jinja Hakusan Shrine which is still located in the area. Unlike the former daimyō residences that used to dominate the area which didn’t survive, this particular shrine enjoyed the patronage of both the Tokugawa and Meiji governments and turned out to be a true survivor.

Let’s Look at the Kanji


haku

White


san

Mountain
Shirayama-hime Shrine in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Shirayama-hime Shrine in Ishikawa Prefecture.

In 948 (middle of the Heian Period), the tutelary kami of 白山比咩神社 Shirayama-hime Jinja Shirayama-hime Shrine was split and transferred to this area. Shirayama Shrine is a major shrine in 加賀国 Kaga no Kuni, present day 石川県 Ishikawa-ken Ishikawa Prefecture. Note that Shirayama is the 訓読み kun’yomi Japanese reading and Hakusan is the 音読み on’yomi Chinese reading of 白山.

Hakusan Shrine was originally located in 武蔵国豊島郡本郷元町 Musashi no Kuni Toshima-gun Hongō Motomachi  Hongō Old Town, Toshima District, Musashi Province (which is now in nearby 本郷一丁目 Hongō Icchōme). In about 1620, Tokugawa Hidetada moved the temple onto the premises of 御薬園 go-yakuen the shōgunate’s garden for healing herbs (the area that is now part of the Koishikawa Botanical Gardens).  After the Meireki Fire in 1655, the lord of 館林藩 Tatebayashi Han Tatebayashi Domain ordered that the shrine be rebuilt at its present location in order to use the space for his new residence[ii]. It’s evident that from quite early in the Edo Period Hakusan Shrine came to be patronized by the Tokugawa Shōgun Family[iii].

Hakusan Shrine in the Edo Period.

Hakusan Shrine in the Edo Period.

10 Shrines of Tōkyō

In the Meiji Era, Hakusan Shrine was one of the 東京十社 Tōkyō Jissha the 10 Shrines of the Eastern Capital.

In many previous articles, I’ve said that Japanese religion is syncretic. This means it was very similar to the polytheistic religions of the classical western world, for example Rome or Greece. While monotheistic religions make no exception for other religions, polytheistic religions – by nature – at least entertain the possibility that other religions might be on to something. Originally Shintō and Buddhism butted heads a bit, but over time they borrowed from each other and incorporated certain elements of each other.

The two religions were incestuously intertwined by the Edo Period. When the Meiji Coup of 1868 took place, the government favored Shintō because: Shintō held all the original Japanese creation myths; it was native Japanese[iv]; Buddhism found particular favor among the samurai class; and most importantly, Shintō included justification of imperial rule by divine descent from Japanese kami of the sun, 天照大御神 Amaterasu-ōmikami Amaterasu.

In 1868, one of the earliest edicts issued by the Imperial Court was the 神仏判然令 Shinbutsu Hanzenrei Kami/Buddha Separation Edict. The court wanted none of this touchy-feely Shintō kami and Buddhist Buddhas living together in peace and harmony. What’s more, sprawling syncretic temple complexes like Zōjō-ji and the recently burned Kan’ei-ji were not just massive 菩提寺 bodaiji family temples of the Tokugawa Shōgun Family, they were also tourist destinations[v].

The Meiji Government was not having this at all. So they decided to create a diversion. In order to make this new emperor worship thing cool, they established the 東京十社 Tōkyō Jissha the 10 Shrines of the Eastern Capital[vi] in order to get people to go on a new Imperial Court sanctioned pilgrimage.

By the way, all of this hot and sweaty emperor-loving, getting back to Shintō roots, and overall xenophobia led to years of deadly vigilante attacks against Buddhists, coerced conversions, and outright destruction of centuries old temples. Yay religion!

At any rate, the Hakusan Shrine is still with us today and is still fairly major shrine. Every year during the rainy season, hundreds of people make the pilgrimage to Hakusan Shrine for its 紫陽花祭 Ajisai Matsuri Hydrangea Festival. The plants bloom every year and the precincts are covered with vivid purples, blues, whites, and pinks.

IMG_0787

Connection with Kaga Domain’s Estate?

As mentioned in my article on Koishikawa, in the Edo Period, the 上屋敷 kami-yashiki upper residence of 加賀藩 Kaga Han Kaga Domain was located in the area. The primary deity enshrined at Hakusan originated in Kaga no Kuni. In the other article I speculated that this was probably just a coincidence. But I looked into it a little more and while I didn’t find a definitive answer, what I know now gives a little better idea of the actual connection between the shrine and the Kaga estate.

Well, actually, the 中屋敷 naka-yashiki middle residence was also nearby. The middle residence was where the family of the lord lived. While an upper residence was an administrative center or embassy, the middle residence was exactly that – a residence. Any sort of religious acts of devotion to the domain’s tutelary kami would have been carried out by members of the daimyō family in a private sense, not necessarily as public, domain activities.

From what I can tell, the location of the upper residence near this shrine was probably a coincidence – or a petition for a location near the shrine could have been submitted to the shōgunate by the lord of Kaga[vii]. It seems that 2nd shōgun, Tokugawa Hidetada, moved the shrine to the go-yakuen location as a favor to Kaga Domain so it would be closer to their middle residence. When the shōgunate moved the shrine after the Meireki fire, they moved the shrine even closer to Kaga’s middle estate.

Here you can see the locations of Hakusan Shrine move closer Kaga's middle estate. The white dot at the bottom of the page is Tokyo Dome and you can see Koishikawa Korakuen to the immediate left of the Dome.

Here you can see the locations of Hakusan Shrine move closer Kaga’s middle estate.
The white dot at the bottom of the page is Tokyo Dome and you can see Koishikawa Korakuen to the immediate left of the Dome.
* click the photo to enlarge *

So there was an actual connection between Hakusan and Kaga Domain, but it most definitely pre-dates the Edo Period. The story of Koishikawa meaning Little Ishikawa is most likely a folk etymology that came about after the creation of Ishikawa Prefecture in 1871. While, yes, there would have been many samurai from Kaga running around the area during the Edo Period, the name  石川 Ishikawa usually referred to a 郡 gun a district within Kaga Domain. I’m not sure if local Edoites would have been familiar with (or even cared about) the administrative districts of an area so far away. The Meiji Era reforms saw newspapers, maps, and cheaper books increase access to information. They also literally put Ishikawa Prefecture on the map.

The 御守殿門 Go-Shuden Mon also called 御住居表御門 Go-Shukyo Omote Go-Mon but popularly referred to as 赤門 Aka Mon the Red Gate is a symbol of Tokyo University. In fact, the nickname of the university is Aka Mon. This was the front gate of of Kaga's upper residence. It's the only structure that survived an 1855 earthquake that burned down the palace.  The heart of Tokyo University's Hongo Campus is built on the ruins of this sprawling palace.

The 御守殿門 Go-Shuden Mon also called 御住居表御門 Go-Shukyo Omote Go-Mon but popularly referred to as 赤門 Aka Mon the Red Gate is a symbol of Tokyo University. In fact, the nickname of the university is Aka Mon.
This was the front gate of of Kaga’s upper residence. It’s the only structure that survived an 1855 earthquake that burned down the palace.
The heart of Tokyo University’s Hongo Campus is built on the ruins of this sprawling palace.

In the Edo Period, as you can imagine, the area wasn’t as densely populated as today, and it was distinctly yamanote. Administratively, Hakusan was a small portion of 武蔵国豊島郡小石川村 Musashi no Kuni Toshima-gun Koishikawa Mura Koishikawa Village, Toshima District, Musashi Province. In 1878, the Meiji Government split the area between the now defunct  小石川区  Koishikawa-ku Koishikawa Ward and 本郷区 Hongō-ku Hongō Ward. In 1947, with the creation of the 23特別区 23 Special Wards, the split areas were re-merged in the new 文京区 Bunkyō-ku Bunkyō Ward. In 1967, with the creation of the modern postal code system, the area called Hakusan came to consist of just 5 blocks.

.

.

If you like JapanThisplease donate.
Click Here to Donate
Click Here to Buy Awesome Nerdy J-History Goods

.

.

 


[i] English teachers in Japan who teach children, you can relax. This is 勧請 kanjō, not 浣腸 kanchō. You can safely unclench your asses now.

[ii] Wait a minute! I’ve been to Tatebayashi. It’s a middle of nowhere backwater. In the shōgun’s capital, who the hell did this country bumpkin think he was to start telling religious institutions in Edo what to do? Oh, I’m glad you asked. He was none other than the 4th living son of the 3rd shōgun Tokugawa Iemitsu, the future Dog Shōgun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. Tsunayoshi had been put in charge of a fief well outside of Edo because he was smart and crafty and Iemitsu apparently felt that he would try to murder and usurp power from his older brother, future 4th shōgun, Ietsuna. In hindsight, however, it appears Tsunayoshi truly respected and looked up to his brother. Tsunayoshi built Ietsuna’s lavish funerary temple in Kan’ei-ji, Gen’yūin, and ordered that his own funerary temple be built next door. To this day, the two brothers rest in adjacent lots in the cemetery at Kan’ei-ji.

[iii] Because pre-shōgun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, had a residence in what is today Hakusan 3-chōme, until 1967, the area was still officially called  白山御殿町 Hakusan Goten Machi Hakusan Palace Town. Older residents of the area still use the name. Apparently, there are plaques commemorating the same scattered throughout the area.

[iv] Pretty sure everyone knows that Buddhism was imported.

[v] Much as Nikkō still is today.

[vi] This grouping doesn’t exist anymore so I couldn’t find an English article on it, but here’s the list of the 10 Shrines in Japanese.

[vii] The lords of Kaga were the 前田 Maeda, who weren’t on the best of terms with the Tokugawa during the Sengoku Period.

What does Koishikawa mean?

In Japanese History on March 19, 2014 at 8:15 am

小石川
Koishikawa (pebble river)

Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome

Koishikawa is a small area located within 文京区 Bunkyō-ku Bunkyō Ward. If you’ve ever been to 東京ドームTōkyō Dōmu Tōkyō Dome for a Giants game or a concert, you’ve been to Koishikawa.

First, let’s talk about the kanji of this name. They’re really quite simple, actually.


ko

small


ishi

stone


kawa

river

The area first comes on to the radar in the Muromachi Period. It was a somewhat undefined area within 武蔵国豊島郡小石河村 Musashi no Kuni Toshima-gun Koishikawa Mura Koishikawa Village, Toshima District, Musashi Province and it was originally written as  小石河 Koishikawa. The old kanji have exactly the same meaning as the modern kanji. The reason the area pops up in the annals is because a new temple was founded here in 1415. That temple’s name is 伝通院[i]  Denzū-in Denzū Temple. It might have just been another boring ol’ temple in the area, except they were the landholders of an extremely large area. The name is generally said to derive from a river that passed by the front gate of the temple. The river had many pebbles in it and so it was calle小石河 Koishi Kawa Koishi River (Pebble River)[ii].

At the beginning of the Edo Period, this area was quite rural and characterized by small farms and 町家 machiya those traditional wooden Japanese houses with a business on the first floor and home on the 2nd floor. That is to say, it was primarily 下町 shitamachi low city. However, by the middle of the Edo Period, most of the agricultural lands had become populated by satellite temples, 武家屋敷 buke yashiki samurai residences, and 大名屋敷 daimyō yashiki daimyō residences.

One of the gates of the middle residence of Mito Domain. (Destroyed by firebombing in WWII)

One of the gates of the middle residence of Mito Domain.
(Destroyed by firebombing in WWII)

When the 御茶之水堀割 O-cha no Mizu Horiwari Ochanomizu Waterway was built at the beginning of the Edo Period, it connected the Koishi River and Sumida River – all of this was part of the larger 神田上水 Kanda Jōsui Kanda Waterworks. Today there is no Koishi River, but the portion of the Kanda River that was made from the old river is known.

Once we get into the Edo Period, the area completely transformed. To understand the area, we have to understand the nature of this transformation. There were two major factors responsible for this monumental change. Firstly, Denzū-in’s relationship with the shōgunate changed and secondly, the policy of 参勤交代 sankin-kōtai alternate attendance[iii] was formalized. These changes placed some of the shōgunate’s most prominent allies into the area and enhanced the area’s association with political influence and religio-cultural prestige[iv].

Denzu-in

Denzu-in

How did Religion Change the Area?

As I mentioned before, Denzū-in was founded in 1415. Originally, it was a massive temple complex, but today its former landholdings are spread out all over the area. When the temple precinct was completely intact, it was the said to be the 3rd 徳川将軍家菩提寺 Tokugawa Shōgun-ke no Bodai-ji family temple of the shōgun family[v].  In the original configuration, 茶阿局 Chā no Tsubone, the main wife of Tokugawa Ieyasu was interred in one of the satellite temples[vi]. However, since the temple lands were split up in the Meiji Period, the grave of his mother, 於大方 O-dai no Kata[vii], has been Denzū-in’s major claim to fame. But the former precinct’s cemeteries still exist and you can find the children, grandchildren, and some concubines of the Tokugawa Shōgun Family buried in this area. Most of these people, of course, are people you’ve never heard of – rich, privileged Edo Period nobles who lived in the confines of the castle but had little or no impact on history[viii].

Cha no Tsubone's grave.

Cha no Tsubone’s grave.

O-dai no Kata's grave.

O-dai no Kata’s grave.

 

Why Were There so Many Elite Graves in the Area?

Originally characterized by agriculture, the area soon found itself home to high ranking samurai officials (think middle to upper management ) and some of the largest 藩邸 hantei domain headquarters (think senior management, embassies, and heads of state). The Tokugawa Shōgun Family’s patronage of the local temples as cemeteries also increased the prestige of the area.

In 1629, an expansive garden was built on the land granted to the 水戸徳川家 Mito Tokugawa-ke the Mito branch of the Tokugawa Family. The project was completed under the auspices of 徳川光圀 Tokugawa Mitsukuni, popularly known as 水戸黄門 Mito Kōmon[ix] the Yellow Gate of Mito – vice-shōgun and second hereditary lord of 水戸藩 Mito Han Mito Domain[x].  The garden was built in the middle of Mito Domain’s sprawling 中屋敷 naka-yashiki middle residence[xi]. This private garden was built for the enjoyment of the lords of Mito and was absolutely not open to the common riff-raff of Edo. It was typical of Japanese elite of the Edo Period to build and maintain these sorts of gardens for relaxation (remember, they had no TV, internet, or AKB). It’s one of a small handful of Edo Period gardens still remaining in Tōkyō. The fact that this park more or less survived the fires of Edo, the Meiji Government confiscations, the Great Kantō Earthquake, the Firebombing of Tōkyō , and urban sprawl is a miracle of history.

You can see how large the Mito estate was and the garden directly in the center.

You can see how large the Mito estate was and the garden directly in the center.

Mito’s neighbor was 加賀藩  Kaga Han Kaga Domain, whose middle residence was even more massive. (Much of Tōkyō University’s Hongō Campus sits on the former site of this palatial residence). I’m gonna come back to Kaga Domain and Mito Domain’s park in a minute[xii]. (And don’t forget about the footnotes, we’ve just passed the 12th one!!)

But yeah, the Mito Tokugawa[xiii] were one of the biggest landholders in Edo. Their middle residence comprised most of what is generally called Koishikawa today – including all of Tōkyō Dome. In comparing Edo Period maps and modern maps, it seems like the entire garden isn’t preserved, but for the most part it’s still intact[xiv].

The seimon (main gate) of Mito's middle residence.

The seimon (main gate) of Mito’s middle residence.

A Little More About the Area

Of course, the area is most famous for Tōkyō Dome.

Next to Tōkyō Dome is 東京ドームシティアトラクションズ Tōkyō Dōmu Atorakushonzu Tōkyō Dome City Attractions which is generally referred to by people over 30 as 後楽園遊園地 Kōrakuen Yūenchi Kōrakuen Amusement Park, the site’s name until 2003. Sadly, the area’s third claim to fame is actually its namesake, 小石河後楽園 Koishikawa Kōrakuen, the park built by Tokugawa Mitsukuni. It’s sad to think how few people living in Tōkyō even know about the park! I’m not even kidding when I say that I’ve probably met more people who’ve never heard of Kōrakuen than people who know it. Or maybe I’m socializing in the wrong circles…

Also located in the area (near Myōgadani Station) is 小石川植物園 Koishikawa Shokubutsuen Koshikawa Botanical Garden. This land was home to one of the shōgunate’s 御薬園 go-yakuen medicinal herb gardens.

Another famous building on the premises was the 小石川養生所 Koishikawa Yōjōsho the Koishikawa Recuperation Facility. It was established in the middle of the Edo Period[xv] by the 8th shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshimune, as a state-funded free medical facility for those who couldn’t afford medical attention. I’m not clear on the details, but I envision a mix between a free clinic and an all-out hospital. The Meiji Government confiscated the lands and gave them to the newly established 東京大学 Tōkyō Daigaku Tōkyō University and the university has maintained the lands ever since. I haven’t been there myself, but it sounds like a pretty awesome garden, actually.

Model of the Recuperation Facility (with roof cut away).

Model of the Recuperation Facility (with roof cut away).

Oh, we’re at the Meiji Period now?

Yeah, we’re at the Meiji Period.  The donation of the herb farm and Recuperation Facility to Tōkyō University was in 1877. About 10 years later, the government figured out a new civil administration system and in 1889 小石川区 Koishikawa-ku Koishikawa Ward was created.

In the Shōwa Period – 1947, to be precise – Koishikawa Ward was abolished and present day Bunkyō Ward was established. Today the name survives as five 丁目 chōme blocks within Bunkyō Ward – some of which, but not all of which, exist where the former Mito palace stood. Modern Koishikawa does not correspond to the old Mito holdings.

Map of modern Koishikawa. You can see the Botanical Garden above it. At the very bottom, you can see the Korakuen and Tokyo Dome, just on the other side of the border.

Map of modern Koishikawa.
You can see the Botanical Garden above it.
At the very bottom, you can see the Korakuen and Tokyo Dome, just on the other side of the border.

So what’s the Etymology?

小石川
koishi kawa

pebble river

小石川
ko-Ishikawa

little Ishikawa

As I mentioned before, the most popular etymology is that as most of the area was originally under the control of 伝通院[xvi] Denzū-in, the area got its name from the river that ran past the front of the temple. That river supposedly had many 小石 koishi pebbles in it. So it was called 小石川 Koishikawa the Small Pebble River.

A second theory exists. That theory derives the name from 加賀国石川郡 Kaga no Kuni Ishikawa-gun Ishikawa District, Kaga Province. Yes, that would be home of 加賀藩 Kaga Han Kaga Domain who had their enormous middle residence right next door to Mito’s residence. When they built their 藩邸 hantei domain headquarters here, they had to transfer the clan’s tutelary kami, 白山権現 Hakusan Gongen here. According to this theory, the area was 小石川 Ko-Ishikawa Little Ishikawa. This isn’t too far-fetched, as the sheer size of this residence would have required a fairly large staff. So there would have been large community of people from Ishikawa living, working, and being out and about in the area. If this theory is true[xvii], nearby 白山駅 Hakusan Eki Hakusan Station has a similar origin – which will be addressed in the next article.

However, since we know the name of the river pre-dates the Edo Period, I think that this place name is a mixture of both. Kaga Domain’s residence being put here was probably just a coincidence – unless it was a sort of オヤジギャグ oyaji gag played out in real life by the shōgunate[xviii] – and the locals made a connection between samurai from Ishikawa and the river name.

The walls surrounding Korakuen are new, but they give you an idea of what how a daimyo residence would have looked from the street level.

The walls surrounding Korakuen are new, but they give you an idea of what how a daimyo residence would have looked from the street level.

                                   

.

.

If you like JapanThisplease donate.

Click Here to Donate

Click Here to Buy Awesome Nerdy J-History Goods

.

.

 


[i] Also written 傳通院.
[ii] This is the most popular theory.
[iii]A quick primer on what Alternate Attendance means is here.
[iv] By the way, religio-cultural isn’t a word. I just made that up.
[v] The most famous being Kan’ei-ji and Zōjō-ji. See my articles here.
[vi] Chā no Tsubone’s grave is located at nearby 宗慶寺 Sōkei-ji. The temple is located here.
[vii] Her name is written a variety of ways: 於大方, お大の方, 於大, , . The word Kata is more of a title than an actual name – although she may have been called O-dai casually by her family. I also came across an alternative writing, 御大方 O-daihō, so go figure….
[viii] If any university student is looking for a graduation thesis to write in English, an interactive Tokugawa family tree that matches with graves, birthplaces, and residences would be a much appreciated resource for anyone interested in Japanese history and you’d be remembered forever. Just sayin’.
[ix] And often punned as 水戸肛門 the Sphincter of Mito.
[x] But to yours truly, he will forever be known as the douchebag who established 水戸学 Mito Gaku Mito Learning – a philosophy which viewed a divine emperor as the  ruler of Japan. It viewed the first Ashikaga shōgun, 足利尊氏 Ashikaga Takauji as an imperial rebel who unlawfully usurped control of Japan. Under this mode of thought, Tokugawa Ieyasu and his descendants, while legitimately being conferred the title of shōgun by the emperor, were actually subservient to the emperor and his court in Kyōto. The shōgunate paid lip service to this arrangement, but in reality they were in complete control and the emperor and his silly court were subservient to Edo. At the end of the Edo Period, this philosophy, which was quite unique to Mito, was used by rebel factions as a basis for overthrowing the Tokugawa Shōgunate. The last shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, was actually a member of the Mito branch of the Tokugawa family. Had the Mito Gaku philosophy ended with the Edo Period, it would have only mattered during the Bakumatsu. But as the idea of an Emperor-centric Japan spread to legitimize the new Meiji State, the emperor’s divinity was emphasized, and Japan began going down a theocratic path bound for a head-to-head collision with WWII. Fuck Mito Gaku. And fuck Mito Kōmon.
[xi] What’s a “middle residence?” Please read my article here.
[xii] Kaga Domain was the fief of the 前田家 Maeda-ke the Maeda family. Their Sengoku Period superstar was 前田利家 Maeda Toshiie, one of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s arch-rivals. But while we’re talking about gardens, one of the most amazing gardens in Japan is 兼六園 Kenrokuen near 金沢城 Kanazawa-jō Kanazawa Kastle. The Kaga Maeda and Mito Tokugawa seemed to have competed a little in garden building. Oh, also, Kaga Domain was fairly small, but it was one of the richest.
[xiii] Hey!!! Who the fuck were the Mito Tokugawa??? They were the Tokugawa living in present day Ibaraki.
[xiv] If you can read Japanese, this guy has some map comparisons that activate when you rollover the images.
[xv]It was established in 1722 as part of the 享保の改革 Kyōhō Kaikaku Kyōhō Reforms, to be exact.
[xvi] Also written 傳通院.
[xvii] And we’re gonna talk about this more in the next article.
[xviii] Which I don’t think it was. But who knows…

%d bloggers like this: