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Ōedo Line: Daimon

In Japanese History on June 30, 2015 at 3:47 am

大門
Daimon (the great gate)

Shiba Daimon (literally, the great gate). Once you crossed this gate you would have officially entered the central precinct of Zōjō-ji. Continue along this street and you will soon arrive at the iconic Sangedatsu Gate which still stands today.

Shiba Daimon (literally, the great gate). Once you crossed this gate you would have officially entered the central precinct of Zōjō-ji. Continue along this street and you will soon arrive at the iconic Sangedatsu Gate which still stands today.

The Great Gate refers to the huge gate marking the beginning of the 参道 sandō main approach to a temple or shrine. This particular road actually begins at Edo Bay and follows a straight line directly to the 大門 daimon great gate that marked the territory controlled by 増上寺 Zōjō-ji a funerary temple of the Tokugawa shōgun family. Walk 5 more minutes and you arrive at a greater gate, the 三解脱門 Sangedatsu Mon Sangedatsu Gate, which marks the entrance to temple grounds proper. It’s one of the most impressive temple entrances in all of Japan and it’s without a doubt the most recognized surviving temple entrance of Edo-Tōkyō[i]. Most of Zōjō-ji burned in the firebombing of WWII, but a few important structures here and there survived. If you know where to look, there are stone walls and relics of the original temple complex scattered all over the Shiba Park area[ii]. Even immediate area surrounding the temple you can find bits and pieces of the Edo Period structures that once decorated this once wooded area. I often come here to explore and reflect upon the great architecture that once stood here until 1945.

Built in 1622, the Sangedatsu Gate has been a symbol of this Zōjō-ji. This photo is taken from within the temple grounds and in the distance you can see the Daimon. (Photo by Rekishi no Tabi. Click the photo to check his amazing photos of Japan)

Built in 1622, the Sangedatsu Gate has been a symbol of this Zōjō-ji. This photo is taken from within the temple grounds and in the distance you can see the Daimon.
(Photo by Rekishi no Tabi. Click the photo to see his amazing photos of Japan)

It goes without saying, that Tōkyō Tower is just amazing. And yes, yes, yes. Tōkyō Skytree is a marvel of engineering – and if I’m not mistaken, the 2nd highest structure in the world. And yes, it looks pretty freaking cool[iii]. But there’s almost no meaning behind Skytree. It’s a colossal monument built by a rich country that foresees a failing economy and needs to attract tourist money well into the future.

Tokyo Tower. Classic. (Click the photo to see my Flickr page)

Tokyo Tower. Classic.
(Click the photo to see my Flickr page)

Tōkyō Tower, on the other hand, is a symbol of post-war Japan. The country had been nuked twice, the capital city and all of its treasures burned to the ground never to be replaced – not to mention the unquantifiable cost in human lives at the close of the Pacific War. Japan had been brought to her knees, humiliated, occupied by a foreign power for the first time, and… well, I could go on and on. In short, Japan recovered and wanted to show the world a new face, a new Japan, a post-war Japan. They began picking up the ashes of a burnt out Tōkyō and in part of their showcasing of the city to the world in the 1964 Summer Olympics, they built Tōkyō Tower to be symbol of recovery, pride, and leadership that would outlast the one summer of the Olympics[iv]. The meaning of Tōkyō Tower is truly profound. There are a few things that really stir up feelings in my heart when I see them: Edo Bay, the rivers of Edo, and Tōkyō Tower. Of course, there are a myriad of other things, but they are subtler. These 3 stick out in my mind as true symbols of the city.

Tofu-ya Ukai may be one of the closest you can come to the lively yamanote culture of Pre-WWII Tōkyō.

Tofu-ya Ukai may be one of the closest you can come to the lively yamanote culture of Pre-WWII Tōkyō.

Oh, and I’d be remiss to mention a certain restaurant next to Tōkyō Tower. If you’d like to eat traditional seasonal food presented as a course lunch or course dinner in a gorgeous traditional setting complete with gardens and trees that absolutely evoke the esthetic of the high city of Edo[v], I recommend 豆腐屋うかい Tōfu-ya Ukai. During the cherry blossom season and the autumn colors season, you can get seated, but the prime viewing times are difficult in the private rooms (last I spoke with them, they took reservations up to 3 months in advance for those times). Even for the economy seating (which isn’t crappy at all, but it’s not private), you’ll probably need a reservation at least a month and a half in advance. I highly recommend this restaurant, so book a private room in advance.

There’s so much in the area that one of these days I should organize a small tour for readers.

Graves of the chief priests of Zōjō-ji.  Good luck finding this on a map, but it's in the area.

Graves of the chief priests of Zōjō-ji.
Good luck finding this on a map, but it’s in the area.
(Click this photo to see my photos of Japan)

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[i] Many of the other gates were destroyed in WWII. The other Tokugawa temple, Kan’ei-ji, also had a unique gate, but that was destroyed during the Meiji Coup of 1868.
[ii] Shiba Park is actually a cluster of parks.
[iii] I know some will disagree with me, but I actually like Skytree.
[iv] They also needed a radio tower.
[v] And high city prices! It’s not cheap.

Ōedo Line: Shiodome

In Japanese History on June 29, 2015 at 2:54 am

汐留
Shiodome (wave break)

The landfills that created calm pools near the residences of the daimyo families and later the shogun family fueled the fires for future destruction of the classical beauty of Edo Bay.

The landfills that created calm pools near the residences of the daimyo families and later the shogun family fueled the fires for future destruction of the classical beauty of Edo Bay.

The true origin of this place name is a bit complex. But the kanji refer to a spot that broke the waves hitting Edo Bay. While the name may pre-date the Edo Period, it’s generally assumed that this is a reference to man-made structures that broke the encroachment of the sea against the seaside palaces of the daimyō and the Tokugawa themselves.

In the Edo Period, the area was home to sprawling seaside mansions of the Tōhoku-based lords of Sendai Domain (descendents of Date Masamune[i]) and Aizu Domain (sponsors of the Shinsengumi[ii]). The Date clan had been loyal to the first shōgun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, before he was made shōgun. The Matsudaira clan of Aizu were related to the Tokugawa shōgun family by blood and marriage. If you look at the massive size of the city blocks in the area, you’re looking at vestiges of the daimyō palaces and samurai mansions that once stood in the area.

“Heat Island Tokyo”
Cutting off the seabreeze or global warming (or both?).
At any rate, Shiodome bears the brunt of this discussion usually.

The area is resplendent in so many contradictory ways. A crazy wall of skyscrapers block cool air from Tōkyō Bay, but at the same time offers customers, residents, and workers an insanely beautiful view of the bay. In this area, you can find the remains of 浜御殿 Hama Goten the Seaside Palace of the Tokugawa shōguns. Today the palace is called 浜離宮庭園 Hama Rikyū Tei’en Hama Detached Palace Park and features some magnificent stone walls, gorgeous gardens, duck/goose hunting grounds, and a beautiful teahouse in the middle of a lake in which you can relax with a hot cup of maccha and eat Japanese sweets on tatami mats. It’s considered one of the best preserved daimyō gardens in Tōkyō.

Hama Rikkyu Garden as viewed from the wall buildings in Shiodome. It looks small here, but it goes on for acres.  That was the Tokugawa seaside palace.  You MUST go.

Hama Rikkyu Garden as viewed from the wall buildings in Shiodome.
It looks small here, but it goes on for acres.
That was the Tokugawa seaside palace.
You MUST go.

A short distance from Hama Rikyū is 芝離宮 Shiba Rikyū Tei’en Shiba Detached Palace. The garden has a long history going back to the Sengoku Period[iii], but it’s an easy shoe in for top 5 traditional gardens in Tōkyō. It’s noticeably smaller than Hama Rikyū, but absolutely worth the visit, especially if you don’t have time for Hama Rikyū. That said, if you like Japanese gardens like your truly does, you could easily spend half a day at both, before you move on to your next activity.

The original (rebuilt) Shibashi Station. Click the photo for more of my original photos)

The original (rebuilt) Shibashi Station.
Click the photo for more of my original photos)

Near all of this is an often overlooked spot, the rebuilt Shinbashi Depot. This was the original location the starting point of the main 東海道線 Tōkaidō-sen Tōkaidō Line, the first train to follow the Tōkaidō Highway and unite Tōkyō with Kyōto & Ōsaka. Japan and trains have a long and colorful history, but this is pretty much where it started. If you like trains or are interested in how the Meiji Period began building up modern infrastructure, the museum inside the station building is a must see. You could walk from here to modern Shinbashi Station (formerly Karasumori Station) and find a Shōwa Era party town. The name Shinbashi means “New Bridge” and the remains of the original are a short walk from here as well.

Kachidoki Bridge crossing the mouth of the Sumida River. (Click the picture to read more about this photo.)

Kachidoki Bridge crossing the mouth of the Sumida River.
(Click the picture to read more about this photo.)

You’ll have to walk to Hamamatsu-chō Station if you want to go, but from there you have a straight shot to 竹芝桟橋 Takeshiba Sankyō Takeshiba Pier. Here you have a view of Kachidoki Bridge and the mouth of the Sumida River as well as a great deal of Tōkyō Port, including Tsukishima, none of which existed in the Edo Period. Boats come and go, but you’ll probably see more helicopters than anything. If you have a good zoom lens and want to take pictures of all kinds of Japanese helicopters, you’ll love this pier. If I have time to kill, I like to get a simple bentō lunch and chill on the pier and bask in the awe of the importance the bay played in the history of Edo-Tōkyō.

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This article is part of an ongoing series that starts here.

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[i] Date Masamune is one of the most famous daimyō of the closing days of the Sengoku Period.
[ii] The Shinsengumi were an elite samurai peace keeping troop during the final days of the Tokugawa shōgunate.
[iii] It was a former 後北条 Go-Hōjō Late Hōjō seaside fort. The ruins of the Hōjō Era tea house are still preserved.
[iv] Do so at your own peril.

What does Fuda no Tsuji mean?

In Japanese History on May 5, 2015 at 2:42 pm

札の辻
Fuda no Tsuji (bulletin board crossroads)

Spoiler Alert: This is the commemorative plaque set up by Minato Ward.

Spoiler Alert: This is the commemorative plaque set up by Minato Ward.

I often walk around sections of Tōkyō that Edoites would have recognized as 日比谷 Hibiya[i], 新橋 Shinbashi[ii], 芝 Shiba[iii], 三田 Mita[iv], 高輪 Takanawa[v], and 品川 Shinagawa[vi]. The boundaries and names of these areas have been a little fluid over the centuries, but those are the sweeping Edo Period names of these large districts. Today, things are a bit more specific. When walking from present day 日比谷公園 Hibiya Kōen Hibiya Park towards present day 芝公園 Shiba Kōen Shiba Park, I always pass an overhanging sign for drivers that points in the direction of a place called 札の辻 Fuda no Tsuji. I always thought to myself, “I should look into that someday.” And guess what? My lazy ass has never done it. So having seen the sign a thousand times, I finally decided to look into it.

I soon found out that this isn’t actually an official Tōkyō place name anymore. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, it’s never been an “official” place name. It was a nickname the area has held on to for dear life since the 1700’s when it was inadvertently stolen[vii].

Today, there is a small plaque (shown above) explaining the history of the area – and when I say small, I mean it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the darkness of this place, nor does it do justice to how important the area actually was to the first 100 some odd years of Edo under the Tokugawa.

This is a depiction of Fuda no Tsuji in Nagoya. The place name is common throughout Japan. Even though this is Nagoya, I hope that when you finish this article, you'll be able to spot the similarities and differences between the Edo-Tokyo location and the Nagoya location.

This is a depiction of Fuda no Tsuji in Nagoya. The place name is common throughout Japan.
Even though this is Nagoya, I hope that when you finish this article, you’ll be able to spot the similarities and differences between the Edo-Tokyo location and the Nagoya location.

First Let’s Look at the Kanji

This place name is simple. It’s made of 2 kanji:


fuda, satsu

a notice, a posted bulletin


tsuji

a street corner, a crossroads, an intersection
A traditional Japan sign (fuda).

A traditional Japan sign (fuda).

The second kanji is really interesting to me because it’s 国字 kokuji, a kanji created in Japan. That is to say, it wasn’t imported from China. I’m 100% sure the Chinese had intersections for thousands of years, but for some reason the Japanese saw fit to create this unique character. It’s not a rare character at all either. It’s so common in Japan that it’s used in a lot of family names and place names throughout the country.

A random photo of a Taisho Period intersection. Modern Japanese cities are generally huddled together close knit towns and so intersections have always been very important. This photo includes a "police box" which emphasizes the importance and centrality of this particular location.

A random photo of a Taisho Period intersection. Modern Japanese cities are generally huddled together close knit towns and so intersections have always been very important. This photo includes a “police box” which emphasizes the importance and centrality of this particular location.

The first character is also extremely high frequency. Its provenance isn’t as important as its association with this place name. The consensus seems to be that it was shorthand for two concepts.

高札
kōsatsu

a bulletin board, official signage (a general term)

制札
seisatsu

official posted regulations and prohibitions of a daimyō or the shōgunate (a specific term)

People don’t learn the rules by osmosis, and they certainly didn’t have the internet, so yeah, you put a sign in a high trafficked area and hoped people would read it and share with their friends. In Edo, these spots were called 御高札場 o-kōsatsuba bulletin board areas, but modern Japanese just call them 高札場 kōsatsuba[viii]. There were at least thirty-five official shōgunate-controlled o-kōsatsuba in Edo. 6 were designated as 大高札場 daikōsatsuba[ix] major bulletin board sites. The major bulletin boards were placed on the main routes into the city. Of course, local towns and villages within Edo-Tōkyō had their own bulletin boards, so it’s impossible to guess how many notice boards existed at any one time in the city until quite recently.

The word 高札 is usually rendered as kōsatsu, which is the 音読み on’yomi Chinese reading. In 訓読み kun’yomi, the Japanese reading, the word can be rendered as takafuda. In the city of Edo, a minor bulletin would be a fuda. But a major bulletin (ie; one issued by the shōgunate) would have been a takafuda – literally a “high announcement.” And yes, these so-called takafuda/kōsatsu were actually larger and posted higher than other announcements.

But to sum it up, Fuda no Tsuji means “the message board intersection.” There are other places throughout Japan with the same name (or some variation thereof). But in short, etymologically speaking, this is about as fucking banal as it gets.

Luckily, there’s much more to this story than the name and believe me, we’re going to get into all of it.

You can see the name Fuda no Tsuji on this overpass.

You can see the name Fuda no Tsuji on this overpass.

But First!

What Does an Edo Period Bulletin Board Look Like?

That is an excellent question!  If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ve definitely seen the modern version. But if you’ve been to an 温泉町 onsen machi hot spring town or 宿場町 shukuba machi an old post town that eke their existences out of maintaining a traditional “Old Japan” atmosphere, you’ve probably seen the most traditional version. To be sure, you’ll absolutely see them in the Tōkyō Metropolis. In fact, one of the best preserved examples of one is in 府中 Fuchū[x] located in western Tōkyō.

An old kosatsuba (I believe this one is from Nagano on the Nakasendo highway, but don't quote me on that).

An old kosatsuba (I believe this one is from Nagano on the Nakasendo highway, but don’t quote me on that).

One of the major kosatsuba of Edo, was this one located in Nihonbashi. Note that it's propped up on stone base. This must have sucked for people with bad eyesight - remember no glasses back then.

One of the major kosatsuba of Edo, was this one located in Nihonbashi. Note that it’s propped up on stone base.
This must have sucked for people with bad eyesight – remember no glasses back then.

This is the Edo Period kosatsuba preserved in Fuchu. It's pretty impressive. Obviously there are no active announcements on it.

This is the Edo Period kosatsuba preserved in Fuchu. It’s pretty impressive. Obviously there are no active announcements on it.

So Let’s Take a Look at the History

But just a quick warning: In this article we’re going to breeze through the reign of the 2nd and 3rd of the 3 Great Unifiers of Japan, the establishment of the Tokugawa Shōgunate and the first 6 shōguns. The details of these rulers aren’t very important to the story of Fuda no Tsuji, but the more you know about Japanese history, the more you will appreciate having them in the background[xi]. For my J-History padawans, skipping the names and dates of the rulers is fair game.

The reason I bring this up is that we’re going to have to look at the persecution and subsequent annihilation of Christianity in Japan. It’s tangential to our story, but so are the people who played a major role in it. We’re going to burn the Christians in a few paragraphs, so those of you with short attention spans may want to stick around.

names & dates

Some Names to Remember

織田信長
Oda Nobunaga
1534-1582

A daimyō warlord, often called the first of the 3 Great Unifiers of Japan.

豊臣秀吉
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
1536ish-1598

A daimyō warlord who rose from commoner status to imperial regent. Although he is often considered the 2nd of the 3 Great Unifiers of Japan, he pretty much unified Japan. He was an awesome general, but kind of a shit ruler.

徳川家康
Tokugawa Ieyasu
1543-1616

A daimyō warlord who was the 3rd Great Unifier of Japan and by that I mean, he actually unified the realm and established a dynasty and a peace that lasted more than 250 years. He was granted the rank of shōgun.

徳川秀忠
Tokugawa Hidetada
1579-1632

The 2nd shōgun and first stage of creating a Tokugawa hegemony. He initiated building projects that enhanced Tokugawa power and started a trend of ignoring foreign relations.

徳川家光
Tokugawa Iemitsu
1604-1651

The 3rd shōgun. He was the first shōgun who wasn’t a Sengoku Period warlord. He continued isolationist policies and focused on enhancing Tokugawa power.

徳川家綱
Tokugawa Ietsuna
1641-1680

The 4th shōgun. He could be considered the first real Edo Period shōgun. He focused on internal issues and rejected foreign notions.

徳川綱吉
Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
1646-1709

The 5th shōgun. Too complex to get into now, but his reign was marked by many cultural events.

徳川家宣
Tokugawa Ienobu
1662-1712

The 6th shōgun. Nobody gives a shit about this guy today, but I’m sure he thought he was pretty important at the time.
Pop Quiz!!! I'll give a cupcake to whomever can tell me which shogun this is.

Pop Quiz!!!
I’ll give a cupcake to whomever can tell me which shogun this is.

A Very Different Sight than Today

Visually speaking, the area isn’t much to look at today. But before WWII, this area sat on the coast of Edo Bay[xii]. A traditional highway called the 東海道 Tōkaidō[xiii] “the eastern coastal route” followed the coastline of Edo Bay. This highway had connected 関東 Kantō with the imperial court in 京都 Kyōto since at least the Heian Period. By the time 徳川家康 Tokugawa Ieyasu became lord of the 8 Kantō Provinces and established his capital in Edo in the 1590’s, the Tōkaidō was already the main access point to the city. At the beginning of the Edo Period, you would have seen a wide highway of dirt and stone and small clusters of tea houses and other merchant buildings that lined the road. The view of the bay must have been stunning. On a clear day, you probably could have seen 常陸国 Hitachi no Kuni Hitachi Province[xiv] on the far end of the bay. The area was famous for 月見 tsukimi moon viewing. Rich commoners and samurai alike would come to the tea houses that dotted the coast to indulge in a little drinking and whoring and watch the moon move across the sky while reflected in the calm waters of the bay.

The famous picture of Shinagawa-shuku that I've posted hundreds of times.  Yeah, so... it's near Fuda no Tsuji.

The famous picture of Shinagawa-shuku that I’ve posted hundreds of times.
Yeah, so… it’s near Fuda no Tsuji.

Fuda no Tsuji was a fork in the road for the Tōkaidō highway. If you were coming to Edo you were traveling eastward. On the left side of the road was an unnamed street that entered a commoners’ town and led to 赤羽橋 Akabanebashi (near present day Tōkyō Tower). Today that street is called 三田通り Mita Dōri Mita Street. The Tōkaidō itself continued eastward until it terminated at 日本橋 Nihonbashi, the terminus of the 五街道 Go Kaidō 5 Great Highways of Edo[xv]. Because this fork in the road was a major access point to the shōgun’s capital, the area was chosen as a major bulletin board site. Any unique rules of the capital, new proclamations, announcements, and coupons for TGI Fridays were posted here[xvi].

Here you can see the Tokaido (eastern coastal road) and its intersection with the road this is called Mita Dori today.

Here you can see the Tokaido (eastern coastal road) and its intersection with the road this is called Mita Dori today.

On a modern map, the only real difference is the fact that the land has been built out so far that the shape of the bay is very different. The intersection is the same, though.

On a modern map, the only real difference is the fact that the land has been built out so far that the shape of the bay is very different. The intersection is the same, though.

Disturbances of the Peace and those Pesky Christians

If you know anything about Japanese history and Christianity, you probably know that this isn’t going to end for somebody and there’s a 99% chance that the somebody is a Christian. There’s also a good chance that there will be an ol’ fashioned burning at the stake. Yee haw.

Since the 1590’s, Tokugawa Ieyasu ruled the Kantō provinces from his new capital of Edo[xvii]. In 1603, Ieyasu was granted the title 征夷大将軍 Sei’i Tai-Shōgun Great General Who Conquers the Barbarians by 後陽成天皇 Go-Yōzei Tennō Emperor Go-Yōzei[xviii] and was basically the supreme power in Japan. Once he felt he had settled in and had gotten his house in order, he retired in 1605. This allowed his son 徳川秀忠 Tokugawa Hidetada to become the second shōgun which assured a smooth dynastic transition of power. Ieyasu assumed the title 大御所 ōgosho (essentially, “retired guy who sits off stage but is very much still pulling the strings”). Things were more or less peaceful, but there were still factions holding out here and there, particularly among the relatives and supporters of the deceased 豊臣秀吉Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Ōsaka and the foreign Christian population and the Japanese Christian population. About 7-8 years into shōgun Hidetada’s reign, things started to come to a head.

The Ōsaka discussion is another topic unto itself, but needless to say, in the winter of 1614 to the summer of 1615, the retired shōgun Ieyasu and reigning shōgun Hidetada laid siege to 大阪城 Ōsaka-jō Ōsaka Castle. Also in 1614, Ieyasu promulgated an edict that echoed Hideyoshi’s 1587 expulsion of Christians from Japan. Ieyasu wanted to secure his 天下 tenka realm under his family’s control and these 2 groups were causing the most trouble. The Hideyoshi supporters were actually the least of his concern because that could be solved by a clear political and military action. The Christians could have proven more difficult, but after overstaying their welcome and somewhat utilitarian convenience by 27 years, the Christians were just a foreign infection that needed to be stamped out before they spread more.

Daimyō loyal to the Tokugawa began expelling and executing Christians. Forced de-conversions of the Japanese elite became commonplace. Foreigners who weren’t granted express permission to be in the country were expelled or sent to special foreign trade settlements. Japan was quickly becoming a so-called “closed country[xix].”

This is a 踏み絵 (fumi-e). The anti-Christian movement wanted Christians to step on and grind into the ground Christian imagery to prove they weren't Christians.

This is a 踏み絵 (fumi-e). The anti-Christian movement wanted Christians to step on and grind into the ground Christian imagery to prove they weren’t Christians.

Keep Out!

In 1616, retired shōgun Ieyasu died and reigning shōgun Hidetada ordered the installation of an 御高札場 o-kōsatsuba bulletin board area at the aforementioned intersection of the Tōkaidō road and the unnamed street in 芝 Shiba that led towards 赤羽橋 Akabanebashi[xx] – that is to say, the place where you were getting within walking distance of Edo Castle. The shōgunate felt that any travelers – be they merchants or daimyō – needed to know the local manners before they entered the city. In short, if you diverged from the Tōkaidō here, you were entering the shōgun’s domain and you best act proper, son. You are now entering Edo.

It’s about this time that the local people began referring to the area as the 札之辻 Fuda no Tsuji “bulletin board intersection.” It was definitely a landmark on a highly trafficked road. The local residents were clearly proud of the fact that this intersection was officially endorsed as an entrance to the city.

In this awesome picture of Tokiwabashi (bridge) and Tokiwabashi Go-Mon (gate), you can see the large kosatsuba. This was also one of the 6 main kosatsuba of Edo.

In this awesome picture of Tokiwabashi (bridge) and Tokiwabashi Go-Mon (gate), you can see the large kosatsuba. This was also one of the 6 main kosatsuba of Edo.

Time to Burn Some Christians[xxi]

The shōgunate was slowly realizing that one of the main precepts of Christianity was proselytization. That meant they felt there was a real possibility of a “Christian conquest” – or at the very least an effort to destabilize the new Tokugawa peace. Furthermore, the Catholics in the country were loyal to a mysterious distant king called “the pope” whose influence was strong in many European countries. What if this pope guy started meddling in the affairs of the Tokugawa shōgunate?

The second shōgun, Hidetada, was not about to let his family’s newly acquired status go to waste, and so he put into motion processes that would ultimately extinguish Christianity in Japan. But essentially he was just reinforcing the earlier anti-Christian edicts of Hideyoshi and Ieyasu.

In 1622, 55 Christians in Nagasaki who had refused to renounce their religion were punished. Some were beheaded, but the most obstinate offenders were burned alive. The Christian problem in Edo continued to build because the persecution laws weren’t enforced in a uniform way. Foreigners and their foreign religions were still somewhat tolerated[xxii]. But in the same year, Hidetada stepped down as shōgun, and elevated his son 徳川家光 Tokugawa Iemitsu to the rank of shōgun. As 大御所 ōgosho (retired shōgun), Hidetada watched over the 19 year old shōgun, as did the 老中 rōjū senior council.

In 1623, an order to burn 50 Christians at the stake was issued in Iemitsu’s name[xxiii]. Since executions meant to send a message, Fuda no Tsuji – the proverbial genkan[xxiv] of Edo – was chosen as the spot. As you can imagine, anyone coming into the shōgun’s capital (and anyone leaving it) via the Tōkaidō would have seen this spot. Just as with the notice boards and signage, it was the perfect location to send a message to people via public execution and display.

In 1632, the retired 2nd shōgun Hidetada died and was interred in a magnificent mausoleum in Shiba. But the illegal Christian population continued to cause problems here and there. Things reached a tipping point in the winter of 1637, when 3rd shōgun Iemitsu decided to lay a massive samurai smack down on the city of 島原 Shimabara in southwestern Japan[xxv]. The local Christians and even the local daimyō paid with their lives. For all intents and purposes, this was the end of Christianity in Pre-Modern Japan[xxvi].

Christins about to get burnt alive. Ouch.

Christins about to get burnt alive. Ouch.

Moving Things Away From the Shōgun’s Castle

In 1651, the shōgunate created a new execution ground at 鈴ヶ森 Suzugamori[xxvii] on the coast of Edo Bay in品川 Shinagawa.  The city had been growing rapidly, and the city’s “spiritual purity” was seen to be at risk. Moving the executions from Fuda no Tsuji to Suzugamori was a move to keep the shōgun’s capital “untainted.”

60 years later, in 1710, the 6th shōgun 徳川家宣 Tokugawa Ienobu moved the message board to the actual border of the capital on the Tōkaidō. The new location was about 700 meters from Fuda no Tsuji in 高輪 Takanawa. The new entrance to Edo was called the 高輪大木戸 Takanawa Ōkido. The name literally means “the great wooden door of Takanawa.”

When you entered a town, there was usually a 町木戸 machikido town gate guarded by at least 2 木戸番 kidoban guards – usually old men who lived on the premises of the gate. Originally, the Takanawa Ōkido functioned like one of these city gates. It was similar to a 関所 sekisho highway check point where shōgunate or domain officials checked your travel documents. The differences is machikido were located throughout the city. The gates of these machikido would close at about 10 PM and re-open at daybreak. Edo wasn’t in a complete lockdown after 10 PM, though. If you had good reason to pass through a machikido, you’d summon the 番太郎様 bantarō-sama, a friendly nickname for the guards, ask them to open the gate for you, and they’d let you pass. The guards would then strike a pair of 拍子木 hyōshigi wooden clappers to alert the guards of the next gate that a traveler was coming.

Unlike the standard wooden machikido, this grand ōkido was a wooden gate supported by 石垣 ishigaki stone walls. Whether it was due to earthquake, fire, both, or just plain decommissioned, the wooden structure ceased to be used. Artwork from 1800 shows the stone walls in place but any kind of wooden structure isn’t depicted. Artwork 1868, depicting the imperial army clearly shows the stone walls and kōsatsu (bulletins, signage), although there is a wooden pole next to the wall[xxviii]. So despite starting life as a grand doorway to Edo, the Takanawa Ōkido was essentially a glorified o-kōsatsuba bulletin board with 2 disembodied stone walls on either side of the street.

The simplest version of a machikido looked like this one at the Fukagawa Shitamachi Museum.

The simplest version of a machikido looked like this one at the Fukagawa Shitamachi Museum.

This is a more elaborate and imposing gate in Tatebayashi. It served as a checkpoint between the commoner section of town and the samurai section of town that surrounded Tatebayashi Castle.

This is a more elaborate and imposing gate in Tatebayashi. It served as a checkpoint between the commoner section of town and the samurai section of town that surrounded Tatebayashi Castle.
(If you want to see more photos of this structure, click the photo to my Tatebayashi album on Flickr.)

The Takanawa Okido in the early 1800's. This picture clearly shows the stone walls. I haven't been able to find a single picture with a gate.  Note that the tops are overgrown with grass. This is typical of stone fortifications after the wooden structures were removed. This is sight that would become commonplace when the outer gates of Edo Castle were torn down in the Meiji Period. The stone bases often stayed in place and grass sprung up on the earth inside the walls.

The Takanawa Okido in the early 1800’s. This picture clearly shows the stone walls. I haven’t been able to find a single picture with a gate.
Note that the tops are overgrown with grass. This is typical of stone fortifications after the wooden structures were removed. This is sight that would become commonplace when the outer gates of Edo Castle were torn down in the Meiji Period. The stone bases often stayed in place and grass sprung up on the earth inside the walls.
Also note that there is no kostasuba.

The Takanawa Okido in the 1830's. This picture clearly shows the stone walls. I haven't been able to find a single picture with a gate. Note that the top is overgrown with grass. This is typical of stone fortification after the wooden structures were removed. This is sight that would become commonplace when the outer gates of Edo Castle were torn down in the Meiji Period. The stone bases often stayed in place and grass sprung up on the earth inside the walls.

The Takanawa Okido in the 1830’s. You can see some free standing sign posts; I’m assuming those associated with the kosatsuba, but I don’t know.

This is the Takanawa Okido in 1868, after the Meiji Coup. You can see troops of the imperial army marching out of the city through the Okido. Interestingly, there is a tall wooden post on the inside of the stone wall. I'm not sure if this was a temporary structure, a late 1800's thing, or just part of the artist's imagination.

This is the Takanawa Okido in 1868, after the Meiji Coup. You can see troops of the imperial army marching out of the city through the Okido. Interestingly, there is a tall wooden post on the inside of the stone wall. I’m not sure if this was a temporary structure, a late 1800’s thing, or just part of the artist’s imagination.

Nice Story. But You’re Talking About Takanawa, not Fuda no Tsuji…

Yes, you’re right, but I wanted to give you the whole story. I also wanted to go back to something I mentioned at the beginning of the article: this isn’t an official place name today and to the best of my knowledge it was never an official place name.

When the kōsatsuba (bulletin board) was moved from the intersection in Shiba to a non-intersection in Takanawa, something new began appearing in maps. Prior to this change, the area was referred to as just 芝 Shiba or 芝口 Shibaguchi[xxix], but after the relocation, the area began to appear on maps as 旧札之辻 Kyū-Fuda no Tsuji Former Bulletin Place or even just 札之辻 Fuda no Tsuji Bulletin Place. What I think we may be able to imply from this is that the literary Chinese words[xxx] that would describe the site, o-kōsatsuba “honorable bulletin board site,” hadn’t been used by the local townspeople – who were commoners. They were using the every day 江戸っ子 Edo-kko Edoite parlance “takafuda.” If this is the case, then 札の辻 fuda no tsuji “bulletin crossroad” is just a lower register of the language used by the average Tarō on the street.

A map showing the intersection in 1868.

A map showing the intersection in 1868.
Interestingly, this map refers to the area in a variant of the popular place name Dōbō-chō which means “monk town.”

So What’s Left Of This Area?

After the notice boards were moved to Takanawa, the execution site of Christians in 1624 and 1639 was replaced with a Buddhist temple called 智福寺 Chifuku-ji[xxxi]. The temple had a grand residence for the monks, all of whom were closely associated with the shōgunate. In nearby 三田三丁目 Mita San-chōme is an area called 同朋町 Dōbō-chō, literally “buddy town.” 同朋 dōhō/dōbō refers to monks who are pursuing the same spiritual pursuits. (This is also a common place name around Japan). I’m not sure about their intentions, but one can imagine the shōgunate wanted to purify the area where they had executed numerous Christians so close to the castle – thus creating a “Buddhist monk town.” The temple doesn’t exist today, but on the site there is a monument honoring those killed. However, just like Fuda no Tsuji, Dōbō-chō isn’t an official postal address. But also just like Fuda no Tsuji, it’s used by the locals and appears on signs and maps.

A shinkansen rolling under Fuda no Tsuji Bridge.

A shinkansen rolling under Fuda no Tsuji Bridge.

Today, much of these stories aren’t known except by people who actually live in the area and bothered reading the signs. However, the area is apparently well known among 新幹線オタク shinkansen otaku shinkansen geeks because there is a curve in the tracks and they think they can get dynamic photos of the trains coming around the bend. But to be honest, I think it’s a brutally ugly area to take photos. There’s just a gaggle of tracks and wires and very little greenery. 11 sets of tracks cross through this area, so the city built a bridge called 札の辻橋 Fuda no Tsuji Hashi Fuda no Tsuji Bridge. The bridge is where the train geeks go with their cameras to get full view of trains coming around the corner. In addition to the shinkansen, the 山手線 Yamanote-sen Yamanote Line, 東海道線 Tōkaidō-sen Tōkaidō Line, and 京浜東北線 Keihin-Tōhoku-sen Keihin-Tōhoku Line pass through this spot.

Kamezuka Park, long thought to be a kofun (pre-historic tumulus), turned out just to be a kids park.

Kamezuka Park, long thought to be a kofun (pre-historic tumulus), turned out just to be a kids park.

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Also in the area is a certain 亀塚公苑 Kamezuka Kōen Kamezuka Park. Located on a large hill, the area was home to the 下屋敷 shimo-yashiki lower residence of the lords of 沼田藩 Numata Han Numata Domain in 上野国 Kōzuke no Kuni Kōzuke Province (more or less modern day 群馬県 Gunma Ken Gunma Prefecture). After the Meiji Coup, the residence was given to the 華頂宮 Kachō-no-miya Kachō imperial princes, a collateral imperial family established during the Bakumatsu. A single wall of that post-Edo Period mansion still exists today in the park. The Kachō princes typically underperformed and actually went extinct at one point, requiring another imperial relative to assume the name to keep it going. Until the end of WWII, the family was called 華頂宮 Kachō-no-miya indicating their imperial lineage. However, after the war, all imperial branches – except for the direct imperial line – were dissolved and theoretically reduced to commoner status. If I’m not mistaken, the last surviving Kachō died in 1970.

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Some of the surviving walls of the Kacho family's estate.

Some of the surviving walls of the Kacho family’s estate.

That Imperial Family Shit Was So Unnecessary

Sorry, they were in the neighborhood, but, yeah, I went off on a tangent – but think of it as added value. But, you’re right. It’s time to wind down and bring this article to a finish. So, yeah. Fuda no Tsuji. Sign posts. Gates. Highways. Edo Bay.

In short, Fuda no Tsuji was a place were a major sign post was located at one of the entrances to Edo in Shiba (Mita). The location served as an execution ground on an occasion or two. The execution ground was moved to Shinagawa. The bulletin boards were moved to Takanawa where a major check point was built that didn’t last long. The reference to the old sign stuck. Fuda no Tsuji. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

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[i] I have an article about Hibiya here.
[ii] I have an article about Shinbashi here.
[iii] I have an article about Shiba here.
[iv] I have an article about Mita here.
[v] I have an article about Takanawa here.
[vi] My article about Shinagawa is the same as my Takanawa article.
[vii] Long story. Hence the long blog.
[viii] Compare Odaiba which derives from 御台場 o-daiba, originally from 台場 daiba . I have an article about Odaiba here.
[ix] To be honest, I’m not exactly sure about the reading of this word, it could also have been ōtakafudaba. I’ll address the discrepancy a little bit later. But regardless, the meaning is the same.
[x] My 2 part series on Chōfu was supposed to be a 3 part series which would have included Fuchū, but I wanted to take a break from cute young girls bleaching cloth in the river to move on to a few other topics. I will cover Fuchū eventually. Don’t worry.
[xi] If we discussed some small event in early American history, you’d want to know who was president at the time….
[xii] Obviously, Tōkyō Bay today.
[xiii] I have an article about the main highways of the Edo Period.
[xiv] Modern day 千葉県 Chiba-ken Chiba Prefecture. By the way this “Hitachi” has nothing to do with the famous company that has given the world the Hitachi Magic Wand – widely regarded as the most intense vibrator on earth. That company’s kanji are 日立 Hitachi and mean “rising sun.”
[xv] I have an excellent article about the 5 Great Highways of Edo that I know you’d love to read!
[xvi] Apparently, TGI Fridays was huuuuuuge in Edo.
[xvii] He was originally from 三河国岡崎 Mikawa no Kuni Okazaki Okazaki, Mikawa Province (present day 愛知県岡崎市 Aichi-ken Okazaki-shi Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture).
[xviii] The 後 go means “later” and is the equivalent to when European monarchs/popes with the same name are referred to by II, III, IV, etc. The Japanese don’t count the iteration; they just indicate that this is later usage of the same name. Long time readers will recognize this prefix from the 後北条氏 Go-Hōjō-shi Late Hōjō clan who modeled their clan name off the 北条氏 Hōjō-shi Hōjō clan. At Samurai Archives, you can read about the Hōjō and the Late Hōjō. Oh, sorry, if you’re interested in the emperor himself (which you’re probably not because no one ever is), you can read more about him here.
[xix] A lot of people bicker about the use of the terms 鎖国 sakoku closed country and 海禁 kaikin maritime restrictions to describe Tokugawa foreign policy, but I actually like both terms. Clearly at this point, there are some maritime restrictions, but soon things will get very North Korea-esque (closed country, anyone?). That said, for the average Joe on the street, Japan would become a closed country. For the reality of certain conduits of trade, Japan was just a severely restricted country. As much as I love Japan now, the closest modern analogy is North Korea.
[xx] I have an article about Akabanebashi here. It also comes up in my articles on Huesken, Kiyokawa, and, Kiyokawa’s grave.
[xxi] After all, that’s probably why you’re still reading anyways, you sick fucks.
[xxii] And until you’re told to kill someone for believing some different religion, I imagine the average Japanese person didn’t really want to hate or kill these people. The feudal lords and the Tokugawa Shōgunate itself were benefiting from information, technology, and trade imported by westerners.
[xxiii] I can totally see an impulsive 19 year old burning people at the stake and Iemitsu could be the guy who did it. But it could have been Hidetada or the senior council who pushed him to do it. It’s fair to say we don’t know who actually pushed for this action the most.
[xxiv] This is my term. A 玄関 genkan is the entrance of a Japanese house. When entering a Japanese home, there is a small area at ground level for taking off your shoes and stashing your umbrellas. Then you enter the home by stepping up on to the elevated floor of the house.
[xxv] It’s usually painted as a religious smack down, but actually, the causes of the Shimabara Rebellion go beyond religious issues. But for the flow of this article, I’m staying with the religious narrative for the sake of being concise.
[xxvi] Christianity re-emerged in the Bakumatsu but even today only small segment of the population will admit to believing it. Christians make up about 1% of the population, and most of them are in Tōkyō. While modern Japan isn’t officially anti-Christian, the country is more or less secular and crucified zombie god myths don’t go over so well here.
[xxvii] Check out my article on Suzugamori here.
[xxviii] This may just be symbolic or the artist may have misremembered the scene.
[xxix] As I also alluded to at the beginning of this article, the place names of Mita, Shiba, and Hibiya are very fluid. They warrant another article in and of themselves. So for this article let’s not worry about borders and what not.
[xxx] But to be honest only the “kōsatsu” part is the Chinese reading. The honorific “o-” and the suffix “ba” are both the Japanese readings.
[xxxi] I’m fuzzy on the details. The temple may have existed previously to attend graves and funerary rites of the executed, but I don’t know.

What does Tamachi mean?

In Japanese History on May 19, 2014 at 5:22 pm

田町
Tamachi (field town, rice paddy town)

Tamachi Station in the rain

Tamachi Station in the rain

Let’s Get the Kanji Out of the Way First


ta, da, den
field, rice paddy

machi, chō
town, neighborhood

Present day 田町 Tamachi is a stop on the 山手線 Yamanote-sen Yamanote Line snuggled between 品川 Shinagawa and 浜松町 Hamamatsu-chō[i]. It’s also home of 慶応大学 Keiō Daigaku Keiō University established by 福沢諭吉 Fukuzawa Yukichi whose countenance graces the ¥10,000 note[ii]. It’s also home to one of the best burger shops in Tōkyō, Munch’s Burger Shack[iii].

Fukuzawa Yukichi, an educator and innovator in Japan.

Fukuzawa Yukichi, an educator and innovator in Japan.

Today there is no official area called Tamachi. In its most limited sense, the name Tamachi refers to the area directly surrounding 田町駅 Tamachi Eki Tamachi Station (which is technically located in 芝 Shiba). In its broadest sense, it is used to refer to a vague area in Shiba and the edge of 三田 Mita). There was an area known as 芝田町 Shiba-Tamachi until 1947 when the 23 wards were restructured.

Today you can take a stroll down Keio Naka-dori Shoten-gai. It's a bunch of izakaya and drinking/eating places that retain some of the Edo aesthetic.

Today you can take a stroll down Keio Naka-dori Shoten-gai. It’s a bunch of izakaya and drinking/eating places that retain a tiny bit of the Edo aesthetic.

Theory #1
Tamachi – Field Town

The most commonly given etymology is that the area was more or less plots of land used by farmers (it’s unclear whether vegetables or rice). With the development of Edo Bay by the Tokugawa Shōgunate, a merchant town was established in the area and given the rustic name 田町 Tamachi, literally “town in the fields.” This explanation is bolstered by the fact that the name Tamachi first appears in the Edo Period and that the town was located near the sea and the 東海道 Tōkaidō Tōkai Highway, both factors that would have necessitated and encouraged the growth of new merchant towns as the shōgun’s capital grew.

For the non-samurai, non-merchant population of Old Japan, this was your reality. No wonder Hideyoshi locked the classes down. He more than anyone knew that if you wanted to end the

For the non-samurai, non-merchant population of Old Japan, this was your reality.
No wonder Hideyoshi locked the classes down. He more than anyone knew that if you wanted to end the “warring states” period, you HAD to tie people to this work.

Theory #2
Mita Machi – Honorable/Divine Rice Paddy Town

Another theory ties into the origin of the place name Mita, which is right next to former Shiba-Tamchi. This theory points at evidence that there was a special set of rice paddies here that were under direct control of the Emperor (in the late Heian Period) and later, the Kamakura Shōgunate. This kind of rice paddy was called a 御田 mita “honorable rice paddy.” A related theory states that the type of rice paddy here was actually a 神田 mita[iv] “divine rice paddy.” This rice would be sent as offerings to 伊勢神宮 Ise Jingū Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture and nearby 御田八幡宮 Mita Hachiman-gū Mita Hachiman Shrine[v]. Whichever it was, an honorable rice paddy or divine rice paddy, it appears the name Mita is quite ancient and we do find 御田 Mita honorable rice paddy in the historical record and in the name of the shrine[vi].

rice tamachi

Rice paddies don’t change over the ages.

At any rate, at some point in history, the town 御田町 Mita Machi came to be written with the more easily recognized kanji 三田町 Mita Machi. The area near present day Tamachi Station preserved the old writing but people were mistakenly reading the name as 御田町 O-tamachi honorable field town and eventually just dropped what they perceived as an honorific 御 o (because usually town names don’t get honorific prefixes) and the place name was reduced to 田町 Tamachi, literally “field town.”

Furthermore, in the Edo Period, there were many 藩邸 hantei daimyō residences in the area and so you would have had samurai from all over Japan speaking their own dialects and having some idiosyncratic rules about kanji use. As a new pair of Edo dialects came to emerge under Tokugawa rule, it’s not unreasonable to imagine 御田町 Mita Machi being read as O-tamachi, especially when compared to nearby 三田町 Mita Machi which is relatively unambiguous in this part of Japan[vii].

Living in the suburbs of Edo was nice. Rustic, but nice. Repeat to yourself, the Yamanote was forested like most of Japan was.

Living in the suburbs of Edo was nice. Rustic, but nice. Repeat to yourself, the Yamanote was forested like most of Japan was.

I’m gonna say right now that there’s not much of a chance of knowing the etymology for sure, but a mixture of those two stories is my pet theory. But wait, there’s something pretty hilarious that’s gonna happen.

One of the greatest idiots of the Meiji Coup: Saigo Takamori. Typical imo zamurai of the time.

One of the greatest idiots of the Meiji Coup: Saigo Takamori.

Theory #3
Edoites Were Making Fun of People From Satsuma

OK, this is going to require a little cultural background.

My favorite theory (but I don’t believe it for a minute) is based on the fact that one of the first daimyō residences built here was that of 薩摩藩 Satsuma-han Satsuma Domain. One of Satsuma’s 名物 meibutsu famous things was (and still is) the 薩摩芋 Satsuma Imo Satsuma potato, also known as sweet potato. The classic Edo Period put down for a country bumpkin was 芋 imo potato[viii]. The refined Edo samurai wouldn’t think twice about referring to country samurai as 芋侍 imo zamurai filthy, dirt grubbing potato samurai – an epithet that resonates with the same sort of disdain and contempt with which Tokugawa Ieyasu viewed former dirt grubbing farmer, Toyotomi Hideyoshi [ix]. It’s classism at its best[x].

Shimazu Yoshihiro, lord of Satsuma at the Battle of Sekigahara and the Osaka Campaigns when the Tokugawa eradicated the last real military resistance to their hegemony.

Shimazu Yoshihiro, lord of Satsuma at the Battle of Sekigahara when the Tokugawa eradicated the last real military resistance to their hegemony.
Spoiler Alert!
(He drops the ball).

The lords of Satsuma, the 島津氏 Shimazu-shi Shimazu clan, were 外様大名 tozama daimyō outer lords during the Edo Period because… well, they were on the losing side of the Battle of Sekigahara, when Tokugawa Ieyasu more or less won control of the majority of Japan. But the Shimazu clan was descended from the progenitor of the first of the three great shōgunates, 源頼朝 Minamoto no Yoritomo, founder of the 鎌倉幕府 Kamakura Bakufu Kamakura shōgunate. They had pedigree, so Ieyasu didn’t make them relinquish their territory. As a result, they had control of trade routes and received tribute from the Ryūkyū Islands (modern Okinawa). They also had a vast, productive territory that often acted like an independent state. And while the 1st Tokugawa shōgun, Ieyasu, was lenient to them despite fucking up big time at the Battle of Sekigahara, the 3rd shōgun, Iemitsu, who worshiped Ieyasu, dealt with them quite coldly. One gets the impression that far off Satsuma held a grudge for being left on the outside.

3rd shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu.

3rd shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu.
“Shimazu? Y’all was a bunch of treacherous bitches. Eat a bag of dicks!”
That’s a literal quote, by the way.

But back to this Edo Period put down thing. In short, they were from the farthest limits of Japan[xi], they were famous a simple, dirty tuber that grows in the dirt[xii]. This theory says that the local Edoites and Edo samurai mocked Satsuma by calling the area 田町 Tamachi field town. They were a domain subjugated by local hero Tokugawa Ieyasu, they were from the country and they were no better than filthy, stinky, sweaty, dirt eating farmers.

This is a colorful story and was no doubt made up by imaginative Edoites. But in my honest opinion, this is utterly ridiculous. As much as I hate Satsuma’s role in the 幕末 bakumatsu end of the shōgunate, and as much as I hate the role of Satsuma’s elite in the oligarchy that sent Japan on a collision course with WWII, I don’t think the shōgunate would have tolerated anyone mocking a clan as rich, powerful, and connected as the Shimazu unless the family had been shamed and abolished by Ieyasu – which they weren’t. They had strong negotiating power and as such had a unique relationship with the Tokugawa Shōgunate. They even married into the Tokugawa Shōgun Family in the final days of the Edo Period[xiii].

Anyways, as much as I would love this to be true, the Shimazu were not the laughing stock of the Edo Period that this theory makes them out to be. And now you know how to mock people from the countryside in Japan. Just add 芋 imo before any noun[xiv].

Tamachi Today

One of Tamachi's crowning jewel's is the NEC world headquarters. I used to work in this building. The top of the building is narrow, buts the base is built on a sprawling lot. I'll get back to that in a minute.

One of Tamachi’s crowning jewel’s is the NEC world headquarters. I used to work in this building. The top of the building is narrow, but the base is built on a sprawling lot.
I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Quite a few daimyō had residences in the area, but the most famous was 薩摩藩 Satsuma-han who had their massive 下屋敷 shimo-yashiki lower residence here. It was a sprawling suburban palace on the outskirts of Edo. Unfortunately, nothing remains of it today, but the entire lot is now the world headquarters of NEC[xv]. A few other major manufacturing companies are in the area: Mitsubishi Motors and Morinaga (a sweets company).

Tamachi Station has this super-70's dasai 3D mural (mosaic?) that no one notices. But if you look closely it's Saigo Takamori and Katstu Kaishu drinking sake together in a traditional meeting. There is also a

Tamachi Station has this super-70’s dasai 3D mural (mosaic?) that no one notices. But if you look closely it’s Saigo Takamori and Katstu Kaishu drinking sake together in a traditional meeting. There is also a “kurofune” (black ship) flying out to space.
It’s brutally ugly. And the only thing that is really interesting about it is the fact that they used Saigo Nanshu as a name instead of Saigo Takamori.
This was the name he used when writing Chinese poetry.

In closing, I’d like to say that Tamachi’s role in Japanese history is mostly defined by a meeting (or series of meetings) between 勝海舟 Katsu Kaishū, a hatamoto of the Tokugawa, and 西郷隆盛 Saigō Takamori, an imo zamurai from Satsuma. One of the highest ranking women in Edo Castle was 篤姫 Atsu-hime Princess Atsu who was of the Satsuma Shimazu clan and was married to Tokugawa Iesada, the 13th shōgun (I alluded to this earlier). Katsu Kaishū, as a direct retainer of the Tokugawa was dependent on them for his income. During the collapse of the Tokugawa regime, he was a genius at working within the system to change the system. He knew Tokugawa hegemony had to end and helped various groups work to that end.

I love Katsu Kaishu!

Undoubtedly (IMHO) the biggest bad ass and biggest hero of the Bakumatsu, Katsu Kaishu. After Ii Naosuke was assassinated, he was the only Japanese guy who could communicate reality to imo zamurai.

However, he never sold out the Tokugawa. When the newly formed Meiji Army marched on Edo it was led by that imo-zamurai, Saigō Takamori. He threatened to march on the city (which would probably have burned the city) or burn Edo Castle (which in turn would probably have burned the city). Katsu Kaishū negotiated a peaceful surrender of the Edo Castle – I’ve heard Atsu had a hand in this, too. The Tokugawa left the castle and 1,000,000 lives were spared a horrific holocaust at the hands of Satsuma and Chōshū. This meant Edo lived to see another day… albeit with a new name, Tōkyō.

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[i] Although, a new station is being built between Shinagawa and Tamachi, so this dynamic will change in the future.
[ii] And was one of the first Japanese dignitaries to travel abroad at the end of the Edo Period.
[iii] If you go, always remember that Japanese “rare” means “still twitching,” “medium” is “rare,” “well-done” is “medium,” and “very well done” is probably still a little pink. While some chefs have mastered the art of the hamburger, most of them fail on the cooking front because who the fuck eats a rare hamburger?? Welcome to sushi-land. The Japanese love that shit.
[iv] 神田 has multiple readings, shinden and kanda being the most common. The latter being a topic I will discuss at some point in the near future. Wink wink. That said, the reading of and as /mi/ is quite ancient and really sounds like it’s associated with the imperial courts at Heian Kyō or Nara. I feel like there’s a close connection to Shintō in that reading. But that’s just my impression.
[v] The shrine is not in its original location, though it is near Tamachi Station even today. The shrine still uses the original spelling 御田 and not the modern 三田. The shrine was founded in 709.
[vi] There’s nothing saying both weren’t true – or that the similarities are related, ie; it’s a kind of Heian Period or Kamakura Period kanji joke.
[vii] It was a long time ago, so I don’t know if it’s any good or not, but I tried to tackle this problem last year in my article on Mita. (edit: Just had a look and the article is pretty short, but wouldn’t be a waste of your time).
[viii] This pejorative use of 芋 imo potato is still around, actually.
[ix] While Ieyasu never called Hideyoshi a hick (they grew up in roughly the same part of Japan), he detested Hideyoshi because of his low birth (he was a dirty, dirt grubbing farmer) and the high rank he had achieved (he united Japan under his control, made all the daimyō pledge allegiance to him, and became the regent of the emperor). Ieyasu didn’t like that shit one bit. Just as the shōgunate vilified Hideyoshi in the histories, the tozama daimyō (outer lords) were branded as “outer” for all of the Edo Period. Add to that the fact that city people always look down on the dirty, uneducated, uncouth, and unsophisticated people from outside of the city. Edoites were no different. The elite samurai of Edo definitely viewed themselves as the cultural and moral superiors of those country samurai.
[x] Worst?
[xi] Literally, the southernmost region of Kyūshū and – at the time – the southernmost region of Japan.
[xii] Satsuma imo was not well known in Kantō before the Edo Period. The system of alternate attendance brought goods from all over Japan to Edo. That said, Satsuma imo was popular with women, not men. It was thought to be good for beautiful skin.
[xiii] More about this in a minute.
[xiv] JapanThis does not endorse mocking or discriminating against people on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.
[xv] To the best of my knowledge NEC has no connection to Satsuma.

What does Shirokane mean?

In Japanese Castles, Japanese History on September 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

白金
Shirokane (Silver Coins)

Something unique in the big city!

Something unique in the big city!

Shirokane appears in a few place names

Shirokane

Shirokanedai

Shirokane-Takanawa

Shiba-Shirokane (now defunct)


So the story goes that in the 14th century, a powerful clan migrated here and took the area under their direct control and began the development and cultivation of the area. According to the legend, the family was called 柳下氏  Yanagishita  or Yagishita or Yanashita the Yanagishita clan[i]. The story goes so far as to allege the head of the clan was a certain 柳下上総之介 Yanagishita Kazusanosuke[ii] who was so rich that he was called the 白金長者 shirokane chōja the silver coin millionaire[iii]. Bear in mind that there is very little corroborating evidence to support this story.

The name Shirokane first appeared in 1559, when the so-called Late Hōjō clan granted a place called 白金村  Shirokane Mura Shirokane Village to the great grandson of Ōta Dōkan. But the story I just told you doesn’t appear until the late Edo Period.

If you don't know what you're looking for, this is what passes for castle ruins of this era.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, this is what passes for castle ruins of this era.

According to the experts, of which I ain’t one, judging from the topography there clearly was a pre-Azuchi-Momoyama fortress in the area[iv], which at least indicates that some powerful lord lived in the area before the coming of the Tokugawa. The ruins, which are just embankments and plateaux today, can be seen in Shirokanedai at the 国立自然教育園 Shizen Kyōikuen National Park for the Study of Nature. You can see their busted ass English website here. I haven’t been to this place myself, but it seems that the hills and ridgeways are the remains of the original earthen fortifications. This Japanese website goes into some detail on the topic.

Again, I’m not an expert on castles, but in the Kamakura Period, this area fell under the domain of the clans such as the Edo and the Shibuya. One of these clans may or may not have had fortresses in the area – and it’s possible that they could have – and the timing is right. Apart from the anecdotal story from the late Edo Period, the Yanagishita clan is otherwise unknown in the area.

so this is the kind of fortification we're talking about...

so this is the kind of fortification we’re talking about…

Complicating the issue, later, after the coming of the Tokugawa and the establishment of 参勤交代  sankin-kōtai the alternate attendance system, this area became home to many palatial residences of 大名 daimyō lords. In 1627, the 讃岐高松藩松平家 Sanuki no Kuni Takamatsu-han no Matsudaira-ke the Matsudaira Family of theTakamatsu Domain in Sanuki Province, a branch family of the Tokugawa, established a 下屋敷 shimo-yashiki lower residence here. As mentioned in my article on sankin-kōtai, of a lord’s 3 usual residences, the lower residence was usually the grandest and would have included beautiful gardens and ponds.

Matsudaira Yoritoshi, last lord of the Takamatsu Matsudaira Family. (ie; the dude who had to surrendur his bad ass mansion in Edo to the Meiji Government)

Matsudaira Yoritoshi, last lord of the Takamatsu Matsudaira Family.
(ie; the dude who had to surrendur his bad ass mansion in Edo to the Meiji Government)

In the Meiji Era[v], the imperial government set about its wholesale erasing samurai history and appropriated the sprawling palace of the Matsudaira and repurposed the land as an arsenal for the Imperial Navy. In 1893, the arsenal was transferred to the Imperial Army. In 1917, the wooded area was granted to the Imperial Forestry Bureau. In 1949, the area was finally open to the public as 国立自然教育園 Kokuritsu Shizen Kyōikuen the National Park for the Study of Nature.

OK, so this is the traditional narrative and, as mentioned, etymologically speaking it’s open to a lot of criticism. That said, the presence of fortifications there are very real.

However, another intriguing theory exists. This theory proposes that the name actually derives from a Classical Japanese phrase 城ヶ根 shiro ka ne/shiro ga ne/jō ga ne which would mean something along the lines of “the castle’s embankments” or “castle foundations.”  According to this etymology, the presence of a former lord’s castle ruins from time immemorial came to be written in more auspicious kanji, ie; 白金 shirogane/shirokane “silver” or “silver coins.” In the Edo Period, a folk etymology came to be circulated which created this Shirokane Chōja Silver Coin Millionaire character and story.

This new theory simply re-spins the traditional narrative but it doesn’t seem so cheesy. It also falls into a pattern that we’ve seen with Kantō place names that pre-date the Edo Period.  It doesn’t have widespread acceptance, but there are other place names around Japan that use the word 根 ne (literally root/source, specialized geographic meaning “ridge, embankment” in relation to a fortification). Actually, we’ve already seen a  根 ne conjecture in the etymology of Nerima.

Which is correct? I don’t know and we’ll probably never know. But that’s the thing with history, isn’t it? As much as we want a clear picture of what really happened, we’re always reaching.

Another kind of interesting thing about this place name is that it does mean “silver” or “silver coins” and to this day the area is located in the richest ward of Tokyo.

Oh, one last loose end to wrap up! So at the beginning of the article, I mentioned some other place names. The etymology of 芝 Shiba can be found here. The etymology of 高輪 Takanawa can be found here. 台 dai, on the other hand, needs a little explainin’.

The kanji is a reference to a 台地 daichi plateau. As mentioned earlier, the area was clearly fortified no less than 500 years ago. The area was probably a naturally high area, but it was intentionally built up too. Anyways, while one common meaning of the kanji in a place name is “high ground,” it’s not always a reference to elevation in the modern geological sense (think sea level); it was a much more relative term. But in this case, it is most certainly a reference to the foundations of the old fortifications.


[i] The name itself is interesting, it means “under the willows,” but it has 3 possible readings. I’m not sure which the correct reading for this particular clan is as I’ve seen both Yanagishita and Yagishita in reference to this clan. Yanagishita seems to roll off the tongue a little easier, so I’m going with that one.

[ii] The traditional story also asserts that homeboy was a minor official in the service of the 南朝 Nanchō, the Southern Court. Readers unfamiliar with the establishment of the Muromachi shōgunate should know that in the 14th century, there was a succession dispute in the Imperial Family which led to the establishment of a second Imperial Court. Long story short, the Northern Court won and the current imperial line claims descent from this branch and considers the Southern Court a bunch of poseurs. Read more about the Northern and Southern Courts here.

[iii] Silver coins or silver itself, usually 銀 gin in modern Japanese, were apparently called 白金 shirokane at the time. Technically speaking, both methods of writing can be read as either gin or shirokane. There is an additional reading hakkin which means platinum.

[iv] If you remember from my article on What does Edo mean?, when you think “Japanese Castle,” you are most likely thinking of structures that were first developed around the time of Oda Nobunaga and reached their peak of development in the Edo Period. But the word 城 shiro is applied to both structures.

[v] In 1871 no less. This is so soon after the 1868 Meiji Restoration, that it seems like a deliberate dig at the Tokugawa to me.

What does Yoyogi mean?

In Japanese History on June 26, 2013 at 1:57 am

代々木
Yoyogi (Generations Old Tree or Trees)

Yoyogi Station.

Yoyogi Station.
Don’t hold me to this, but I think the present Yoyogi Station wasn’t actually part of Yoyogi Village.

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Once again, I want to throw out a million thanks to my readers. If none of you followed, commented, messaged or just generally showed up, I wouldn’t be able to continue. Y’all make this so much fun.

I was asked by a reader the other today to talk about Yoyogi. So I bumped it up in the pecking order. Hope this is a good one.

Hatsune Miku.

And for no particular reason, here’s Hatsune Miku.
random

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The name 代々木村 Yoyogi Mura Yoyogi Village is attested in the writings of the Sengoku Period. But it’s not clear where that name came from. There’s a good chance the name is much older than the Edo Period. But without other records, we can’t say.

In the Edo Period, the area called Yoyogi was what is now more or less the Meiji Jingū and Harajuku Station area.

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Let’s Look at the Kanji:

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代々daidai
alternate: yoyo
an adverb meaning “for generations, for ages”
ki
alternate: gi 

tree

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The simplest explanation seems to be the most believable to me. There were a lot of trees in the area for a long time – generations, if you will.

There are a few slight variations of this theory. The reason I put off doing this place name for so long[i] was because sorting thru all the details of etymologies that varied little except for a slightly different angle or a curious anecdote was too time consuming. Given the amount of time and effort I’ve put into JapanThis since that time, this topic seems much less daunting now[ii]. And in reality, it wasn’t difficult to research this one.

One theory states that 皀莢 saikachi honey locust trees were cultivated here[iii]. I like this theory best because it’s simple and plausible. It doesn’t try to hard.

This is a close up a honey locust tree.  You can see its bean pods. Legumes FTW... or something

This is a close up a honey locust tree.
You can see its bean pods.
Legumes FTW… or something

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Another theory states specifically that on the Ii family’s lower residence, which made up part of Meiji Jingū and some of the hill at the high point of Harajuku, was covered in  樅 momi Japanese fir trees. This story has some cool anecdotes attached to it, but reeks of folk etymology.

a Japanese fir tree, It looks very firry. Good for it.

a Japanese fir tree,
It looks very firry.
Good for it.

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It should be noted that today both types of trees exist in the area around Meiji Jingū, although after WWII, local trees from all over Japan were donated here during the rebuilding effort.
Also, the area that is now Meiji Jingū Gaien was the original site of the Ii clan’s palatial lower residence’s tea garden. To my knowledge, nothing remains of the site.

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If you go to Meiji Jingū, near the garden’s east gate, there is a tree with a sign that says 代々木の大樅 Yoyogi no Ōmomi The Great Japanese Fir of Yoyogi. The tree is no bigger or smaller than any of the other trees near it. But the story goes that once upon a time, there was a super tall Japanese fir tree that had stood here for generations. The current unimpressive tree is a replacement that stands on the site of the original Great Japanese Fir of Yoyogi Village.

This is where the sign says the big fir tree of Yoyogi was.

This is where the sign says the big fir tree of Yoyogi was.
Note: it’s not a fir tree….

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It was said that this 大樅 ōmomi great fir tree on the Ii family’s lower residence was so great, that mapmakers from the shōgunate would climb to the top of it to survey the city. Another anecdote states that the Ii family’s watchmen would keep an eye on the family’s upper residence which was located near the 桜田門 Sakuradamon Sakurada Gate[iv]. In fact, it was said that you could see all the way to Shiba and Edo Bay. Utagawa Hiroshige even painted a picture of the tree titled 代々木村ノ世々木 Yoyogi Mura no Yoyogi The Generations Old Tree of Yoyogi[v].

There was an imperial residence built on the site of the Ii family’s lower residence[vi]. The tree was preserved… or at least the location of the alleged tree. Eventually the land was incorporated into Meiji Jingū and, as I said, the old tree doesn’t exist anymore, but the new tree does and it has its own sign. So, good for it.

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[i] When I started looking into place names, it was one of the first I wanted to write about.

[iii] 代々木 daidai ki, (alternatively, yoyo ki) “generations of trees” was basically shorthand for 代々皀莢ヲ生産  daidai/yoyo saikachi no ki wo seisa “cultivating honey locust trees for generations.”

[iv] I’m sure I’ve alluded to the Sakuradamon Incident (which sounds like a euphemism, it should be called “the Assassination of Ii Naosuke at Sakuradamon”). Many people consider this the opening of the Bakumatsu.

[v] The Yoyogi of Yoyogi. See what he did there? In the second “yoyogi” he used a variant for 代々 daidai/yoyo generations 世々 yoyo. I can’t find this picture on the internet, so if someone can help me find it, I’d really appreciate that!

[vi] Remember, the lower residences were much more palace like and rustic than their urban upper residences near the castle. When the Meiji Era urban sprawl began in earnest, the Harajuku area became a prime target for rich people and the elite imperial family who wanted to build their own estates in the area.

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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.

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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.

__________________________

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.

___________________________

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).

_____________________________

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.

____________________

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.

_________________________

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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.

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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/

Daitokuin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on May 29, 2013 at 1:23 am

徳院
Daitokuin (Tower of Benevolence & Virtue)
二代将軍徳川秀忠公
2nd Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Hidetada
Zōjō-ji


Tokugawa Hidetada Daitokuin Taitokuin Zojoji Shiba Mausoleum

The Main Hall of Daitokuin (btw, Taitokuin is another possible reading).
You may want to refer back to this picture later.
BTW, if you go here, this picture shows a hill on the left side. This is incorrect. The whole area was relatively level, it being located at the top of a hill anyways.
The modern “main gate” has been moved to a new location. But the original spot is marked with a signpost.

Tokugawa Hidetada.


To the average Japanese his name has sort of dissipated into the ether. If they remember him at all, he’s the uninteresting guy between Ieyasu and Iemitsu. To fans of the Sengoku Era, he’s kinda boring compared to all the major warlords of the day. To fans of the Edo Era, he’s the son of a great man and the father of another great man, but not a great man himself.


But in my opinion, Hidetada’s reputation as a boring shōgun is totally unfair.


Part of his bad rep is the fact that he was Tokugawa Ieyasu’s second son. In the final throes of the Sengoku Period, Ieyasu had ordered his first son, Nobuyasu, to commit seppuku after a period of house arrest for suspected treason against Oda Nobunaga. Famously, Ieyasu is said to have regretted this order until he died. But such was life in Sengoku Japan. To make things worse, at the Battle of Sekigahara – Ieyasu’s most important battle – Hidetada arrived late… late as in, after the battle. Ieyasu was pissed off like a motherfucker and never forgot this.


Why do I think this is unfair?


1 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault he was born second (primogeniture was supremely important at the time)

2 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault that Nobuyasu was (apparently) a dick and got mixed up with people who were plotting Nobunaga’s murder (whether this was true or not is unknown).

3 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault that Nobunaga insisted on executing Nobuyasu and that Ieyasu ordered his own first born son to do seppuku in order to have an “honorable death.”

4 – Hidetada ruled for a little under 20 years. Not bad at all given the fact that even Hideyoshi hadn’t held onto power for more than 10 years. His own father, Ieyasu, abdicated from the position of shōgun after just 2 years[1]. So Hidetada set a record by just being alive.

5 – Besides being late to Sekigahara, one of the other alleged reasons Ieyasu hated Hidetada was that supposedly Hidetada married 江姫 Gō-hime for love. To Ieyasu this was the ultimate pussy move. Real men used women for making babies and managing the household while men tended to matters of war and state[2]. But I think it’s sweet.

6 Hidetada made strong relations with 朝廷 chōtei the imperial court in Kyōto by marrying the Tokugawa into the imperial bloodline.
7 – He encouraged massive building efforts in Edo, including Kan’ei-ji.
8 – He had a bad ass mustache.

Dude had a great mustache...

Dude had a great mustache…




So yeah, sometimes Tokugawa Hidetada gets cast as a pussy or as a shitty shōgun, but I don’t think that’s really the case. He definitely had the bad luck of being sandwiched between 2 remarkable shōguns in a remarkable time. But he wasn’t a shitty shōgun by any stretch of the imagination. The shitty shōguns don’t come until later. And they will come, believe me.


But in our story, Hidetada is the hero. He donated land to the Buddhist priest Tenkai to develop a second funerary temple complex at Kan’ei-ji in Ueno.  Even though Hidetada developed Kan’ei-ji, he chose to be interred at Zōjō-ji. Despite his direct order that he just have a simple gravestone, his mausoleum was said to have been the most opulent structure at Zōjō-ji. The shōgunate threw buckets of money into the development of a shrine worthy of the son of Tokugawa Ieyasu.


Most of the Daitokuin was destroyed in the firebombing of WWII and sadly never rebuilt. Luckily for us, a few structures survived. Except for one gate, the remaining pieces were sent to 不動寺 Fudō-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama. Looking at the pictures of the original structures, they do look quite elaborate. If you see the restored 惣門 sōmon main gate in Shiba Park today, you’ll be shocked at how intense it is. Whether it looked like that in the Edo Period or not, I don’t know… but when it was new it probably did shine like that. Also seeing the level of detail and craftsmanship of the remaining pieces in Saitama, it really breaks my heart that all these treasures were lost forever.  Having spent the last 3 days sorting through as many photos as I could, I really do believe it’s a tragedy that these buildings were not only destroyed but never rebuilt.


Structure Name

Description

Condition

Location

殿

honden

Main temple

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

watarō

Like an outdoor hallway that separated the oku no in from the honden.

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

nakamon

Middle gate (2x)

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

sukibei

A latticework fence common at shrines

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

水盤舎 2

suibansha

Water basins for ritual purification (2x)

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

全部

oku no in

Inner sanctuary complex;
included the 2 story pagoda that housed Hidetada’s remains and series of gates and buildings and a 5 story pagoda.

Everything

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

sōmon

Main gate

Restored to bizarrely perfect condition

Shiba Park


勅額

chokugakumon

Imperial scroll gate (bears the okurigō gifted by the emperor upon the deceased; bears the shrine’s namesake)

Maintained in good condition

Fudō-ji
Tokorozawa
(moved in 1960)

丁子

chōjimon

Clove gate

(led into the area that led into the cemetery)

Maintained in good condition

Fudō-ji
Tokorozawa
(moved in 1960)

御成

o-inari mon

Gate dedicated to Inari


(I’ll talk more about this when I get back to Tōkyō place names…)

Maintained in good condition

Fudō-ji
Tokorozawa
(moved in 1960)

銅灯籠
dōtōrō
石灯籠
ishitōrō

Copper & stone lamps for illumination at night 

Many have survived

Most are at Fudō-ji

(Tokorozawa)

崇源院
霊牌
gen’in
reihaisho


Mausoleum of Gō, Hidetada’s wife.
gen’in is her ingō (“-in” name).

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

General Map of Daitokuin

In the middle you can see a bunch of dudes in white lined up in front of the 惣門 Sōmon Main Gate. Pass through the main gate, that brings you to the 勅額門 chokugakumon imperial scroll gate. From there, you can see the 2 水盤舎 suibansha wash basins on the left and right. If you continue straight, you’ll arrive at the 本殿 honden main hall. To the right of the main you can see 崇源院 gen’in princess Gō‘s grave. To the left of the main hall,  you can go up the hill to the 奥院 oku no in, the inner sanctuary complex which housed Hidetada’s remains. The mortuary building was an octagonal, 2-story pagoda with a smaller 2-story urn made of wood inside. There was also another worship hall called a 拝殿 haiden in the oku no in. The five story pagoda next to it was technically part of Zōjō-ji, and not Daitokuin. Apparently some fences and monuments remained in situ until the 1960’s when they were either demolished or moved to another location.

Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji

Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji.
You’ll probably want to refer back to this painting throughout the article.


Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji (Legend)

Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji (Legend)

総門 Sōmon
The Main Gate

This type of gate is the street level gate. It’s meant a boundary between the mundane and the spiritual.
Called Sōmon in Japanese, the main gate survived all sorts of conflagrations and earthquakes. How it survived the firebombing that destroyed most of Zōjō-ji is beyond me. It’s been restored and it is splendid. But it looks so new that… I dunno. You be the judge.

Somon Gate (a type of nitemon gate). Notice the river on the right. Also in the background you can see one of the water basins (left) and the choji mon (right). You can also see the stairs to the imperial scroll gate.

Somon Gate (a type of nitemon gate).
Notice the river on the right.
Also in the background you can see one of the water basins (left) and the choji mon (right).
You can also see the stairs to the imperial scroll gate.

Tokugawa Hidetada's Grave - Main Gate

Daitokuin’s Main Gate
(you can see the Imperial Scroll Gate in the background)

The Main Entrance to Daitokuin as it looks today.

The Main Entrance to Daitokuin as it looks today.
This gate was originally located at the top of the hill, behind a small stream. The ruins of the streambank and original location of this gate and the imperial scroll gate are preserved and clearly marked in English and Japanese.

The Main Gate of Daitokuin at Christmas... What would Edo People think of this...?

The Main Gate of Daitokuin at Christmas… Looking down the hill at the “exit hole” of the Main Gate.

The derelict gate

The temple precinct was converted into a driving range and the main gate sat at the entrance until the restoration in 1997.

勅額門 chokugakumon
The Imperial Scroll Gate

The emperor — supposedly — thinks up and writes the posthumous name of the shōgun and then that handwritten calligraphy is made into a plaque for the true entrance to the temple. While the sōmon is the street level entrance, the imperial scroll gate, called 勅額門 chokugakumon announces  the name of the temple. It’s the gate between the mundane world and the spiritual realm of the deified shōgun.

Tokugawa Hidetada's Imperial Scroll Gate Saitama Zojoji

The Imperial Scroll Gate survived and was moved to Fudoji in Tokorozawa, Saitama in 1960.

水盤舎 suibansha
Water Basins for Ritual Purification

A crappy picture from the bakumatsu... luckily for us, despite its shittiness as a photograph, it clearly shows the courtyard between the Imperial Scroll Gate and the Main Hall -- along with the two wash basins.

A crappy picture from the bakumatsu… luckily for us, despite its shittiness as a photograph, it clearly shows the courtyard. On the left is the chokugakumon (imperial scroll gate), in the middle (top and bottom) are 2 matching wash basins (suibansha), on the right, the large building is the honden (main hall). In the middle bottom is a small gate called the choujimon (clove gate). You may want to refer back to this picture throughout the article.

daitokuin_courtyard

I found a better version of the photo.
It’s a little smaller, but it’s clear enough to see what’s going on.

Taken from the right side of the Imperial Scroll Gate, this picture shows the water basin and the fence and the main hall.

Taken from the right side of the Imperial Scroll Gate, this picture shows the water basin and the fence and the main hall.

Again, from the right side of the inside pf the imperial scroll gate, another view of the main hall with the washbasins on either side.

From the left side of the imperial scroll gate. Both wash basins can be seen and princess Go’s funerary temple can also be seen in the background.

本殿 honden
The Main Hall

Detail of the main hall's roof...

Detail of the main hall’s roof…

Nakamon, the middle gate. This gate led to the main hall. You can clearly see the latticework on the suikbei (fence).

Nakamon, the middle gate.
This gate led to the main hall.
You can clearly see the latticework on the suikbei (fence).

奥院 oku no in
The Inner Sanctuary (Mortuary)

From Hidetada’s main hall, if we turn left and walk up through the gate we ‘ll come to a steep staircase which leads to the 奥院 oku no in, the inner sanctuary or mortuary/cemetery. At the top of the stairs is another gate called 御稲荷門 O-narimon. This was a gate for the personal use of the shougun and his attendants. 100 years later, another o-nari gate would be built at Yūshōin.

O-narimon, leading to the Oku no in (inner sanctuary). Note the bridge. On the painting above you can just barely make out a small stream behind the gate.

Oinarimon, the Inari Gate, leading to the Oku no in (inner sanctuary). Note the bridge. On the painting above you can just barely make out a small stream behind the Inari Gate.

Oinarimon, the Inari Gate as it looks today. Now it is preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

O-narimon, (private gate for the shogun) as it looks today.
Now it is preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

Close up of the Inari Gate. The detail is fantastic and the color gives you a good idea of how the structures in the black and white photos would have looked. Beautiful!

Close up of the Inari Gate. The detail is fantastic and the color gives you a good idea of how the structures in the black and white photos would have looked. Beautiful!

An even closer look at the Inari Gate.

An even closer look at the Inari Gate.

Next we come to another gate called 中門 Nakamon, middle gate, this one leads to an octagonal 2-story pagoda. Inside the pagoda was a 2-story wooden urn which housed the remains of Hidetada.

The fence and nakamon surrounding the 2-story pagoda.

The tamagaki (fence) and nakamon surrounding the 2-story pagoda.

The fence and the 2-story pagoda.

The fence and the 2-story pagoda and the tamagaki (fence).

Nakamon and the 2-story pagoda with wood props.

Nakamon and the 2-story pagoda with wood props.

The Nakamon, middle gate, entrance to the 2-story pagoda.

The Nakamon, middle gate, entrance to the 2-story pagoda.
(I’m not sure, but I think this picture is taken with the photographer’s back to the pagoda, meaning the structure in the background is the haiden, hall of worship.)

Hidetada's funerary urn.

The wooden urn that held Tokugawa Hidetada’s remains stood inside the 2-story pagoda.

The wooden urn that held Tokugawa Hidetada's remains stood inside the 2-story pagoda.

A colorized shot of the wooden funerary urn and a funky table in front of it.
Note the carved dragons on the wall in the background.

After the firebombing, this is all that was left of the octagonal pagoda that housed Hidetada's wooden urn.  I'm not sure what the giant poop in the center is all about.

After the firebombing, this is all that was left of the octagonal pagoda that housed Hidetada’s wooden urn.
I’m not sure what the giant poop in the center is all about.

Pretty sure this is the remains of Hidetada's octagonal grave.

Pretty sure this is the remains of Hidetada’s octagonal grave.

In front of the 2-story pagoda was the 拝殿 haiden, another hall of worship separate from the 本殿 honden, main hall. In the close up of the Nakamon above, you can see the roof behind the 玉垣 tamagaki fence. I don’t have a picture of the outside of the building, but you can see it in the painting above.

Woodwork detail of the 2-story pagoda.

Detail of the outside of the haiden.

Inside the haiden worship hall.

Inside the haiden worship hall.

While it wasn’t part of Daitokuin, on the hill across from the haiden, there was a 5-story pagoda.

The 5-story pagoda of Zojoji

The 5-story pagoda of Zojoji.
Note the 2 benches. Shiba Park used to be really nice, huh?

Now, if we turn around and go back down the stairs and walk past the main hall, we’ll find a gate called 丁子門 chōjimon, the clove gate. If we pass through the clove gate, we will enter another mortuary called Sūgen’in. This is the grave of Hidetada’s wife, Gō.

Choujimon - the clove gate - is still preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

Chojimon – the clove gate – is still preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

崇源院 Sūgen’in
Source of Adoration
Posthumous name of Princess Gō.

Sugen'in

Sugen’in

Sugen'in Note there are more trees and there is a sign for tourists.

Sugen’in
Note there are more trees and there is a sign for tourists.

Close up of the gate to Sugen'in. (love the lazy just sitting on the stairs...)

Close up of the gate to Sugen’in.
(love the lazy just sitting on the stairs…)

Hidetada and Go-hime's funerary urns were made of wood, so they were lost in the firebombing. They were enshrined together. Today their remains rest in the Tokugawa Cemetery at Zojo-ji.

Hidetada and Go-hime’s funerary urns were made of wood, so they were lost in the firebombing.
They were enshrined together.
Today their remains rest in the Tokugawa Cemetery at Zojo-ji.

And finally, the copper lamps

Many stone lamps and copper lamps were on the premises. Some of the lamps that survived the firebombing were re-used at Zōjō-ji, but most were relocated to Fudō-ji in 1960.

The suriviing copper lamps at Fudo-ji.

The surviving copper lamps at Fudo-ji.

The ruins of Daitokuin have been turned into a park, you can see the area well from Tokyo Tower.

The ruins of Daitokuin have been turned into a park, you can see the area well from Tokyo Tower.

If you walk through the Somon (main gate) and go up the stairs, at the top of the hill there is an exhibit of the excavated remains of one of the waterways that coursed through the Daitokuin complex.

If you walk through the Somon (main gate) and go up the stairs, at the top of the hill there is an exhibit of the excavated remains of one of the waterways that coursed through the Daitokuin complex.

 

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[1] It must be said, however, that Ieyasu abdicated in order to oversee the succession of his shōgunate from behind the scenes. So in as much as Hidetada was nominally shōgun, it could be said that Ieyasu was still in charge. Nevertheless, as shōgun, Hidetada wasn’t a puppet. Edicts and policies enacted during his reign are distinct from Ieyasu’s.


[2] s name was written many different ways. She was also called 江与 Eyo and , among other things. It’s really complicated, so I’m just calling her Gō.

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