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Posts Tagged ‘zojoji’

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

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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.

What does Hamamatsu-cho mean?

In Japanese History on April 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

浜松町
Hamamatsu-chō (seaside pine town, more at Hamamatsu town)

View towards Shiba-Daimon from Hamamatsu-cho.

View towards Shiba-Daimon from Hamamatsu-cho. The hills in the far background are Shiba and Zojo-ji.

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There’s not a lot to go on with this place name. A lot of it adds up, but a lot of it doesn’t. As such, we’ll probably have to do a little more filling in the gaps than I like to do. But anyways, let’s see where this takes us.

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On the record, here’s what we’ve got.

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At the beginning of the Edo Period, the 増上寺代官 Zōjō-ji daikan magistrate of Zōjō-ji[i] 奥住久右衛門 Ozumi Kyūemon[ii] lived here. Because of that, the area was called affectionately called 久右衛門町 Kyūemon-chō Kyūemon Town.

However, in 1696 there was an official name change attributed to the assignment of a certain 権兵衛 Gonbei as successor to the magistracy. The area was renamed 浜松町 Hamamatsu-chō Hamamatsu Town because Gonbei happened to be from 遠江国浜松藩 Tōtōmi no Kuni Hamamatsu-han Hamamatsu Domain, Tōtōmi Province.

If you walk up the street from the above photo, you'll end up at what is called Shiba Daimon today. This street led directly to the Tokugawa Funerary Temple, Zojo-ji. The gate is called Daimon "the Big Gate" and once you crossed it, you entered the outskirts of the temple precinct.

If you walk up the street from the above photo, you’ll end up at what is called Shiba Daimon today. This street led directly to the Tokugawa Funerary Temple, Zojo-ji. The gate is called Daimon “the Big Gate” and once you crossed it, you entered the outskirts of the temple precinct.

Or so they say…

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That is the “official story” endorsed by 東京都港区 Tōkyō-to Minato-ku Minato Ward, Tōkyō Metropolis.

There are a few red flags here. And there are some quick fixes for those. Let’s look at them, and I’ll let you decide on your own what you think is actually going on here.

The original village headman, Kyūemon, had a family name. This meant he would have been a descendant of the imperial court or a samurai. Judging by his given name and his location, one can easily assume he was a samurai. Only noble families were granted inheritable surnames (officially, at least).

At first glance, this Gonbei guy from Hamamatsu Domain had no family name… at least not on record. This is extremely suspicious on some levels. One would think the village headman should be a person of some distinction. So, where’s the family name?

On top of all that, because it was such a common name among commoners after the Meiji Coup, sometimes “Gonbei” can be used to refer to any idiot from the country. And to make matters even worse, “Gonbei” can also be used to refer to a person whose name we don’t know at all[iii]. All of these would normally be red flags for me. But poor Gonbei might have some circumstantial evidence (supported by some speculation) working in his favor.

 

I have no picture of Gonbei so instead I give you a woman washing her drying her pussy in an alcove.

I have no picture of Gonbei so instead I give you a woman drying her pussy in an alcove.

 

After the defeat of the Late Hōjō in 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu took a deal which Toyotomi Hideyoshi thought would resign Ieyasu to a backwater[iv]. But Ieyasu modernized the castle town that Ōta Dōkan, um, in his own day started on a path towards urbanization[v]. All of this risky modernization was justified when Ieyasu’s forces won the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. In 1603, he was granted the title of  征夷大将軍 sei’i tai-shōgun official-fucker-up-of-the-barbarians.

When Ieyasu moved his clan to Edo, one would think that only his chief retainers came with him. But merchants and artisans viewed as critical were encouraged to come and jump start the building of his new capital. Merchants from his former holdings came to Edo in droves after 1603. Japanese history books often talk about Mikawa samurai and the influence they had in Edo as they came from the same province Ieyasu was born in, 三河国岡崎藩 Mikawa no Kuni Okazaki-han Okazaki Domain, Mikawa Province. However, during his rise to power, Ieyasu was lord of 岡崎城 Okazaki-jō Okazaki Castle, then 駿府城 Sunpu-jō Sunpu Castle, and finally 浜松城 Hamamatsu-jō Hamamatsu Castle[vi].

Super digital Hamamatsu Castle with cherry blossoms.

Super creepy digital Hamamatsu Castle with cherry blossoms.

 

Given the amount of artist and merchant relocation from Ieyasu’s previous holdings to Edo, it’s not unreasonable to assume some guy named Gonbei from Hamamatsu ended up in this area. If he were clever and resourceful enough, could he become a 名主 nanushi village headman?

Well, it turns out there’s a possible explanation for this. It seems that the Tokugawa Shōgunate gave a fair degree of autonomy to each village and that the villages could actually elect their headmen. If we assume that Gonbei was elected, we might also be able to assume that Kyūemon had been appointed in the beginning to ensure the shōgunate’s master plan was being implemented correctly. After he died or retired, the village would be left to their own devices and the “democratic” system of self-governance would take effect.

Gonbei, clearly a commoner, may have borne the epithet 浜松権兵衛 Hamamatsu Gonbei to distinguish himself from other Gonbeis in the village (it was a high frequency name, after all).

Is this etymology a hard, historical fact? No, it isn’t. With a little background and a little guess work can we make it work? Clearly so. And as skeptical as I was when I first heard the theory, I have to say this one can be wrapped up fairly tidily. But even if it weren’t true, we still gain a little insight into the building up of Edo, and – I don’t know about you, but – I didn’t know the villages were given that kind of autonomy.

勉強になりました benkyō ni narimashita I learned some shit.

Hamamatsu-cho Station in 1909, 1941, and 1996.

Hamamatsu-cho Station in 1909, 1941, and 1996.

 

The area was (is) located on Edo (Tōkyō) Bay. The kanji 浜 hama means seaside[vii]. 松 matsu means pine trees. A literal reading of the kanji would lead one to believe there were pine trees by the sea. I thought for sure I’d come across this theory, but I haven’t found anything yet[viii].

Next to Hamamatsu-chō Station, you’ll find a stunning daimyō garden called 旧芝離宮庭園 Kyū-Shiba Rikyū Teien Former Shiba Detached Palace. This is an interesting spot because it was originally the site of a senior councilor of the shōgun, 大久保忠朝 Ōkubo Tadatomo. He brought some stone gateposts from the former fortress of a retainer of the 後北条 Go-Hōjō the Late Hōjō[ix], and used them as the foundation of a 茶室 chashitsu teahouse. The teahouse is gone, but the stone posts remain on a hill on the site. If you erase the skyscrapers and put yourself into the dawn of the Edo Period, you can totally imagine enjoying tea in a small house, then exiting the building to enjoy a view of the ocean.

 

The foundations of the teahouse built from the gateposts of Matsuda Norihide’s fortress. Edo Period recycling at it’s best… I suppose. Looks a little cramped.

 

The Edo Period buildings have not lasted — for a number of reasons, least of which is the legacy of its name 離宮 rikyū which is term applied to secondary homes of the imperial family. It was an imperial “detached palace” until the end of WWII. As luck would have it, the imperial family didn’t fuck with the garden too much and as such we have 1 of 2 preserved daimyō gardens in Tōkyō. (Keep in mind there were hundreds of gardens spread across Edo.)

 

Perfect place to end the article. A true blend of Edo-Tokyo.

Perfect place to end the article.
A true blend of Edo-Tokyo.

 

 

 

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[i] I didn’t know that temples had magistrates, which raises more questions about pre-Tokugawa and early Tokugawa organizations of civil administration. Grad students, there are a few theses in there.
Also, remember, Zōjō-ji became the first Tokugawa Funerary temple in Edo when the 2nd shōgun Tokugawa Hidetada asked that he and his wife be interred there. The connection between this area and the Tokugawa is profoundly felt, even today.
[ii] This family name can also be read Okuzumi or Okusumi. I don’t know which is correct for this dude.
[iii] By the way, both of these are modern uses of the name, not pre-modern.
[iv] Edo Bay is a ridiculously defensible bay. Ieyasu probably couldn’t have gotten luckier in this deal – albeit he had to refashion his castle in the grand new style ushered in by Oda Nobunaga.
[v] Long time readers will know well my position on the myth that Edo was just “an obscure fishing village.” If you don’t know, read my article on What does Edo mean?
[vi] Located in 三河国 Mikawa no Kuni Mikawa Province, 駿河国 Suruga no Kuni Suruga Province, and 遠江国 Tōtōmi no Kuni Tōtōmi Province, respectively.
[vii] This is the same hama in Yokohama, also on the sea.
[viii] In Tokugawa Ienobu’s time, many pine trees were planted in the Tokugawa Seaside Palace here, which adds further confusion. That palace, also very nearby was, coincidentally, called 浜御殿 Hama Goten the Seaside Palace and today is called 旧浜離宮 Kyū-Hama Rikyū the Former Hama Detached Palace. This “hama” is actually a reference to the seaside and supposedly has no connection to the name Hamamatsu-chō.
[ix] Based in Odawara, they were the rulers of much of Kantō prior to Ieyasu.

Questions from Readers

In Japan on February 21, 2014 at 8:32 am
Wanna know who this is? So did other readers. Today I'll tell you!

Wanna know who this dude is?
So did other readers.
Today I’ll tell you!

I don’t get a lot of e-mails, but I’ve gotten a few over the past few months asking about my personal opinions or musings on certain topics. I don’t think Japan This! is really the place for my personal opinions on things like the “Do you think Korea has a good argument for renaming the Sea of Japan “the East Sea?” That said, I’m a human being and of course I have opinions on such topics.

So I wrote a 5 page article answering reader questions about my personal opinions on a few topics related to Japan and Tokyo. I included a little hate mail, too. (Believe it or not, I do get hate mail from time to time.)

I’ve posted the article on my Patreon page. For those who don’t know, Patreon is a crowd sourcing network that let’s you support artists, bloggers, and other creative people. Basically, if you like all this free content and you want to make a donation to support the blog, it’s a safe and trustworthy way to do so.

Some topics that get discussed are:

What does “Japan This” mean?
The Senkaku Islands.
Eating dolphins.
Hate mail. (My favorite part!)
 Much, much more…

The article is here:

http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=240821

Begging for donations or charging for content makes me feel like shit, so even if you don’t donate, I’ve decided to include a free post here. I really appreciate everyone who reads Japan This! If no one read this, I wouldn’t do it.

Well, that’s not true. It’s a labor of love. I’d still do it. But it just wouldn’t be as much fun. So thank you to each and every one of my readers (even the ones who send me hate mail). I have lots of love for you. And don’t worry, this blog is always going to be free!

OK, so as for today’s post, I just went to the Regional Immigration Office (every expat’s favorite place in the world), and I had to change trains at Daimon Station. I love this station because inside they have a few old pictures up on the wall. I decided to make a video of one huge photograph they have on display. This panoramic photograph shows a view from Tokyo Station/Marunouchi to Tōkyō Castle (Edo Castle) to Yurakucho/Hibiya Park and Shiodome (which at the time was called Shinbashi). Tameike Sannō was still an 池 ike lake. Sotobori Road was still a moat. You can see the Shiba area is still more or less Zōjō-ji’s massive, wooded precincts and that the bay is lacking the sprawling man-made islands that protect central Tōkyō from the sea. It’s really a spectacular photo.

Shomyoin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 17, 2013 at 5:05 am

昭明院
Shōmyōin
 (Divine Prince of Shining Wisdom)
十四代将軍徳川家茂公
14th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Iemochi
Zōjō-ji

Tokugawa_Iemochofficial

I’ve been making jokes about all of the shōguns just because I like to have a good time with history. It’s hilarious to look back in time with a certain smarminess and condescension only granted by hindsight and the ridiculous technological supremacy of our age[i].

However, no one in Japan, least of not the shōgunate, thought these were hilarious times. There was not just the crisis of these “foreign menaces” demanding that Japan open up. There were insidious forces within Japan herself sensing blood and ready to go in for the kill to establish a new shōgunate. Most unexpectedly, the imperial court in Kyōto was starting to flex its muscles and trying to reassert its ancient power. Hell, those people didn’t even do anything. They just wrote poetry and blew smoke up each other’s overly cultured Kyōtoite asses. Blackened teeth, son. Where’d you think that fashion came from? Think about it.

Anyhoo, in the midst of this crisis, the 13th shōgun – inept, incapable, and quite possibly mentally retarded[ii] – Tokugawa Iesada died. I don’t blame the guy for dying, but the people who allowed someone that Ieyasu himself would have drowned in a river sealed the shōgunate’s fate.  As you can imagine, Iesada died without an heir… and every student of history knows that succession crises rarely end peacefully.

Did someone say "failed asian state?"

Did someone say “failed Asian state?”

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Of course, the obvious choice for the next shōgun in this time of great crisis was a 12 year old boy named Yoshitomo.

A 12 fucking year old boy.

They married him to the emperor’s daughter in an attempt to unify the shōgunate and the imperial court because marrying a young boy from the shōgun’s family to one of the emperor’s daughters[iii] was the best way to quell the civil unrest of the time. The idea being that the imperial court and the shōgunate could rise up against the foreign menace under the banner of a 12 year old general.

Yeah… that’s the ticket!

So little Yoshitomo became shōgun at age 12 and donned the name Iemochi.

He died less than 10 years later. In his term as shōgun, a lot happened. The teenage Iemochi led a ridiculous military offensive against Chōshū domain at the request of the imperial court which resulted in a few executions and nothing more. The shōgunate and the bakuhan[iv] system had become so dysfunctional that 4 years into his reign the sankin-kōtai system was suspended (a de facto abolishment). The suspension of this system didn’t stop daimyō from coming to and from Edo to meet with shōgunate officials, but with our “smarmy hindsight” we can look back at this and say – without a doubt – shit was broken beyond repair.

But Wait!
Isn’t This Series About the Graves of the Shōguns?

Sorry for wasting 700 words on what shits Iesada and Iemochi were. Their utter inappropriateness on the government stage is just so frustrating to me. After the 8th shōgun, Yoshimune, we just got clowns and puppets[v]. Also, this is my favorite era of Japanese history so I tend to get long winded. Forgive me, please, because I don’t want to commit seppuku.

hara kiri

mea culpa. mea maxima culpa.

Primogeniture 

Primogeniture - not the best way to select a leader in a crisis.

Primogeniture – not the best way to select a leader in a crisis.

The other frustrating thing is that there was a perfectly qualified adult candidate for shōgun[vi].

Who?

Oh, I’m glad you asked. None other than the absolutely capable, exceptionally well-educated, creative yet patient, brought up in conditions that noble Spartans might appreciate – a veritable second Ieyasu; the one and only, Tokugawa Yoshinobu.

BUT NO.
They made a 12 year old kid shōgun and they made him marry the kid daughter of the emperor[vii]. He died from eating too much white rice[viii]. And that’s history, folks.

They buried him in a 2-story pagoda style urn at Bunshōin, Zōjō-ji.

Oh, but get this. His stupid wife from the imperial family, Princess Kazunomiya, died of the same rich people disease[ix].

If you want to see either of their worthless graves, the Tokugawa Shōgun Family Cemetery still seems to be open at Zōjō-ji.

Princess Kazunomiya.

Princess Kazunomiya.

A Final Note

Princess Kazunomiya died in the 10th year of the Meiji Era. The Shōgunate had fallen, but the Tokugawa Funerary Temples were still closely tied to the Tokugawa family. The family hadn’t been bankrupted yet[x]. The story goes that Kazunomiya wanted to be buried at Zōjō-ji with her husband. Take this request with a grain of salt. A woman of her day was chattel. She was a chess piece in a failed political game. As such, her choices were probably (1) get a shit grave back in Kyōto, or (2) get a grave fitting of the wife of a shōgun in Edo (now called Tōkyō). I don’t blame her. If you come to Japan to look at graves, you probably can’t see any of the emperors during the Edo Period. You probably wouldn’t want to either. The shōgunate had the monopoly on bad ass graves. Kazunomiya chose well[xi]. Her grave is still preserved at Zōjō-ji today.

Princess Kazunomiya and Shogun Iesada's 2-story pagoda style urns as they are today at Zojo-ji.

Princess Kazunomiya and Shogun Iesada’s 2-story pagoda style urns as they are today at Zojo-ji.

Princess Kazunomiya's Urn  at Zojo-ji.

Princess Kazunomiya’s Urn at Zojo-ji.

I feel like I’ve babbled a lot and run way off course on these last few entries about the Tokugawa Funerary Temples, but that’s OK. It was a time where everything was running off in all sorts of directions.

Tomorrow, the shōgunate will end. And the last shōgun’s grave will be something to really talk about.
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[i] Don’t worry, I’m humble. I know that in a mere 50-100 years my generation (the last to grow up before the internet) is going to look like a bunch of australopithecines using sharpened bones and antlers digging holes to dump stillborn babies in – not so much out of respect as a need to keep predators from smelling the cadaver and hunting our asses down for dinner.

[ii] No matter what his actual condition, at least he looks competent in his portrait. Take another look at Iemochi. WTF, right?

[iii] Who, quite frankly, sounds like a complete bitch.

[iv] Westerners tend to describe Japanese system as “feudal,” but I prefer the term “bakuhan.” It describes the relationship between the shōgunate bakufu and the domains han).

[v] And not to hate on a kid, but maybe we could say that Yoshimune’s predecessor, the 6 fucking year old Ietsugu, was the beginning of the end. Once you start installing kids as heads of state, you know things are probably going to go downhill.

[vi] Actually, there were two.

[vii] Who, did I mention, sounds like a complete bitch.

[viii] 18th century Asian nobility problems

[ix] 18th century Asian nobility problems

[x] And the major branches never were to be completely bankrupted. Most were offered new aristocratic ranks in the Meiji government.

[xi] Also there’s good reason to believe that in her widowhood, she was banging Katsu Kaishū, a hatamoto of the Tokugawa. I don’t slut shame her for this. I love Katsu Kaishū and whatever makes a person happy is good enough for me. But the imperial court of the time definitely would have looked down on her for anything she did after marrying into the shōgunal family. So whether she was a bitch or not, I feel kinda sad for her. But not too much… fuck aristocrats.

Shintokuin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 13, 2013 at 4:59 am

慎徳院
Shintokuin  (Divine Prince of Humility & Virtue)
十二代将軍徳川家慶公
12th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ieyoshi
Zōjō-ji

Tokugaa Ieyoshi

He looks like a clown in this picture,
but archaeological research in the 1950’s
confirmed that the dude had a massive forehead.

The 12th shōgun, Tokugawa Ieyoshi, was another one of those boring late Edo Period shōguns. Dude had the pedigree. Dude had the name. Dude had 15 concubines. He would have gone down in history as a dude born at the right time and right place, though totally unworthy of holding the reins of government. He was shōgun from 1837 to 1853. From 1837 to July, 1853 his reign can be described as business as usual. But by the end of that fateful month, he would be dead.

Through no doing of his own, an event happened that threatened to plunge Japan into chaos for centuries or perhaps result in Japan’s subjugation by the same foreign influences that turned “Asia’s Rome[i]” upside down and brought her to her knees.

On July 8th, 1853 an American naval fleet led by Commodore Matthew Perry rolled in to Uraga Bay and demanded that Japan “open up” to trade.

How the Japanese media perceived the "Black Ship Threat"

How the Japanese media perceived the “Black Ship Threat”

Ieyoshi was 60 at the time, ie; he was a fucking living fossil[ii]. And summer in Kantō is hot and ridiculously humid. It’s said that he collapsed from the heat and died.

The Americans returned in spring of the next year (1854) to sign a “treaty” and set up a delegation on foreign soil (predecessor to the American Embassy). But Townsend Harris, first American Ambassador to Japan (1856-1861) who witnessed first-hand the unprecedented xenophobia and violence that marked the beginning of the bakumatsu had supposedly heard rumors that the geriatric shōgun had been cut to death or poisoned by factions within Edo Castle that felt he was unprepared to deal with the “problem of the foreigners.”

Both stories are plausible, the first being a cover up of the latter. The latter being a possible conspiracy theory that sounded all too real during Harris’ stay in Edo. Nobody knows which one is true. My gut instinct goes with the heat stroke theory because old people die all the time in Japan when it gets too hot – but I could totally be wrong.

What the Black Ships really were....

What the Black Ships really were….

Anyways, the summer of the last year of Ieyoshi’s reign marks the beginning of the bakumatsu. To me it’s the most interesting era of Japanese history. Although no one knew it at the time, it marked the beginning of the end of the Tokugawa shōgunate. If the bakufu had wanted to build new mortuary temples again or not, we don’t know. If they didn’t have money in the coffers at this point, there’d never have enough later. And in 10 years, it wouldn’t matter[iii].

When he died he enshrined gōshi style at 文昭院 Bunshōin in Zōjō-ji. Hopefully you remember that Bunshōin was Tokugawa Ienobu’s mausoleum. Except for the metal gate leading to Ienobu’s funerary urn, nothing is left of the site after WWII.

2-story pagoda shaped urn of Tokugawa Ieyoshi

2-story pagoda shaped urn of Tokugawa Ieyoshi

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[i] I’m refering to China, btw. See what I did there? That’s called Eurocentrism.

[ii] For the time, I mean. lol

[iii] Hindsight? Yes.

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.

Bunshoin

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

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

The 6th shogun, Yoshinobu.

The 6th shogun, Ienobu.

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

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

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

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

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

Structures of Bunshōin

Structure Name Description Condition Status
本殿
honden
the main hall destroyed

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

拝殿
haiden
the inner or private worship hall destroyed

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

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

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

渡廊
watarō
portico destroyed

透塀
sukibei
latticework fence that encloses a temple or shrine destroyed

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

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

仕切門
shikirimon
entrance to the oku no in destroyed

鐘楼
shōrō
belfry, bell tower destroyed

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

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

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

奥院波板塀
oku no in

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

奥院拝殿
oku no in

haiden
worship hall within the inner sanctuary destroyed

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

奥院中門
oku no in

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

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

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

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

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Maps of Zoujou-ji after Daitokuin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

___________________________

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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[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.

Why is Shiba called Shiba?

In Japanese History on May 23, 2013 at 12:37 am


Shiba (grass/lawn)

Shiba. There's stil some lush greenery as well as some gaijin lushes.

Shiba. There’s still some lush greenery as well as some gaijin lushes.

The first theory I came across was one that said that the grass in this part of the Musashi Plain was particularly lush. A quick search for old art depicting any areas of the vast Musashi Plain will yield pictures of tall grasses.  Search for plants of the Musashi Plain and all that you’ll see are lush grasses. I don’t see how an area next to the sea would be particularly more luxurious than any other area.

The second theory is that the 斯波氏 Shiba clan had a residence in the area. During the Ashikaga shōgunate, the Shiba were one the families that could hold the position of 管領 kanrei deputy shōgun (literally controller). While the family line came to an end in the mid 1500’s, it’s not impossible to imagine that some member of the Shiba family had a residence here. However, there doesn’t seem to be any collaborating evidence for this theory.

Shiba this, bitch!

These are shiba (柴) at high tide in Omori Kaigan. They’ve been placed in the inlet to harvest seaweed, a centuries old technique… apparently still used.

Another theory is that in the early days, when there were many shallow inlets cutting in to what is now central Tōkyō (and this part of town was literally part of the bay, the area was characterized by brushwood used to grow and harvest 海苔 nori seaweed. The general word for brushwood is 柴 shiba*. As far back as the Sengoku Period, we know there to have been a 柴村 Shiba Mura Shiba Village in the area. In the early Edo Period, 柴町 Shiba Machi Shiba Town is attested. The name change reflects an area whose population had grown substantially. In the early Edo Period we start to see an alternate writing as 芝町 Shiba Machi. Over the course of the Edo Period, this new variation becomes the standard and the old variant dies out. Products developed in the area develop a widespread reputation as “Shiba Machi” products – like a brand name.

A view of Zojoji, one of the two Tokugawa shogun funerary temples in Edo. Notice the long sando.   (You don remember what a sando was, don't you??)*****

A view of Zojoji, one of the two Tokugawa shogun funerary temples in Edo. Notice the long sando.
(You do remember what a sando was, don’t you??)****

I couldn’t find anything to explain the change in the kanji or the demand for goods produced in the area, but I have a theory. The shōgunate built a funerary temple complex called Zōjōji in Shiba. As a result, many daimyō residences were also built in the area. I’m willing to bet that the urbanization of the bay front area and controlling the water that flowed in and out of the bay curtailed land/water use in the area. This would have produced more dry land where lush fields of grass might grow instead of mushy wetlands**. The gentrification that came with the arrival of nobles and one of the shōgun family’s main temples would have given the area a lot of prestige. This is all conjecture, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable that lush grass became more of the stereotypical image of the area than swampy inlets filled with half-naked villagers checking their crappy brushwood nets for seaweed. It’s also not unreasonable to assume that as the area had grown in prestige a nice kanji like (lawn, grass) was preferable to which looks like something you’d use for kindling in a fire.

Some of that the lush-ass Musashino grass. Too bad you can't smoke that shit.

Some of that the lush-ass Musashino grass. Too bad you can’t smoke that shit.

Personally, I don’t find any of these satisfying etymologies, but the last one has a lot more to play with. The practice of using 柴 shiba brushwood to harvest nori is apparently still done in a few existing inlets (see picture).

But there is a chronology problem. In 1486, there is a reference to an area called 芝ノ浦 Shiba no ura “under Shiba.” This place name uses the “grass/lawn” kanji and not the “brushwood” kanji. The area is noted for salt production and shipping***.

In present day Tōkyō, the south of Shiba is called 芝浦 Shibaura (literally, “under Shiba”). This indicates that the grass/lawn kanji variant may have been in use prior to the Edo Period. It might also suggest that – coincidentally – there were two areas phonetically referred to as しば shiba but – possibly – unrelated to each other etymologically. If this were the case, the alternation of the kanji in the early Edo Period could reflect a confusion or ambiguity about the area that was finally resolved through standardization by the mid-Edo Era – perhaps through a process similar to what I hypothesized above…

…or perhaps not.

Shiba Shrimp - Delicious Japanese Food

Mmmmmmm. Shiba Ebi.

So, who the fuck knows? Once again, the origins of another pre-Edo Period place name prove to be elusive. But this time I won’t leave you totally empty handed. As I mentioned before, items produced in Shiba were famous throughout the land in the Edo Period. One of the products was a particularly delicious variety of shrimp that were abundant in the area and brought into port in Shiba/Shibaura. Originally 芝海老 Shiba Ebi Shiba Shrimp was the local name for this species in the area. The species wasn’t specific to this corner of Edo Bay, but the name spread and became the standard appellation for this type of crustacean everywhere in Japan. So while I can’t give you a clear etymology of Shiba, the origins of the name Shiba Shrimp is something we know 100%.

The ironic thing is that these days the water is so polluted that there are very few of them in Tōkyō Bay. Now, most Shiba Shrimp in Japan come from Niigata and Taiwan.
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* Compare this to the origin of Hibiya, which is most likely derived from a different method of growing and harvesting nori. (On a somewhat unrelated note, this brushwood kanji is the same character used for 柴犬 shibaken, the famous breed of Japanese dogs.)
** Check out my article on Two Famous Murders to see a picture of nearby Mita/Azabu where you can clearly see “lush grass” growing.
*** Compare this to the origin of Shiodome, which has a salt production theory associated with it.
**** You already forgot what a sandō was?? FFS, have a look at the origin of Omotesandō.

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