Tendai-sect temple built in early 17th century by Taikai Houin, also revered ascetic trained in Haguro Mountains known as the sacred place in Yamagata, was notoriously recognized as the start of great fire of 1772 which engulfed the most of Edo area including part of Edo castle. 500 stone statues of this temple was built in early 19th century to mourn the victims of the great fire. Uniquely shaped jizo statues called Toroke-jizo was said to have salvaged from the sea by a fisherman during mid 19th century.
Shirokanedai is the western part of the Minato ward bordering with Meguro, Shibuya and Shinagawa wards and is located east of JR Meguro station. This area has a number of greenery areas such as Shizen-Kyoikuen, or The Institute of Nature Study and Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum(currently closed for renovation). This area is popular among walkers and there are some fancy cafes as well. I will explore this area further in my Minato page.
It is a unique museum dedicated to humankind's most unwanted companions, parasites. It is a private and small museum and all they ask to enter is some donation for museum maintenance. Really cool. Special exhibition now being held focuses on Pine-killing bugs currently spreading like wildfire. The most interesting feature of the museum is that you can wear? the longest parasite on earth about 9 meters in length. It is like thin and long cotton belt for ancient kimonos. Some exhibitions attach with English explanatory notes and the others have Japanese notes with illustrations. Although I can read Japanese, biology was not my favorite subject during my school time. I wish I had studied harder on that subject.
In Tokyo you will find a lot of steep slopes. Gyoninzaka slope in Meguro is one of the steepest among them. It had been the only road to Meguro from Edo until the milder Gonnosukezaka Slope was developed during Edo period. It was called this way since Daienji Temple was founded by Hoin Taikai the revered priest in Yodonoyama in Yamagata in 1624. The temple lured a lot of ascetics and people named this slope the "slope of ascetics". This area is also known as the source of great fire in 1772. The great fire engulfed entire Edo area and 15,000 people were killed by the fire. Today the slope is used by commuters living near the Meguro station. Meguro residents walk up the slope really quickly. You may not follow their pace.
The temple displaying about 300 remaining wooden statues of 500 arhat, usually sculpted in stones, does not look like old temple of historical significance because the temple was built in reinformced concrete. But the outlook belies the magnificent statues inside. It was originally built in 1695 at the Honsho area (currently Koto ward, and a part of Fukagawa area) in Tokyo. After tremendous calamities such as floods and earthquakes which reduced the number of statues from 536 to 295, the temple was moved to current place in 1909. Current building was built in 1981 so that no more precious statues would be lost to natural disasters. The remaining 300 statues are truly impressive just like being in Sanjusangendo in Kyoto. No photographing is allowed inside the temple so this is only photo I can show it to you. Pay 300 yen to enter the temple and see for yourself.
The temple founded in 858 A.D. by Jikaku, one of the most respected Teidai priests, is best known by its nickname TAKOYAKUSHI. Its principle object of worship Takoyakushi is rarely opened to public but you can find octopuses drawn either in ema wooden tablets or on large wooden panel sticking treasures or fortunes by its tentacles. The description on large board says "Thank God, it sucks fortunes and lucks".
It is also known by historical buffs for a group of jizo statues called "Oshizu Jizo". Oshizu is an unrecognized consort of the second shogun of Ego Shogunate, Iyetada Tokugawa. Iyetada kept the presence of Oshizu secret in fear of Ogo, his first wife. According to some of the writings from Hakuseki Arai, well known scholar in late 17th century, when Iyemitsu visited this temple during the falconry, he acidentally found out about his half-brother, son of Oshizu who later became a lord of Aizu, Masayuki Hoshina, and became pivotal figure in Edo Government under the third shogun Iyemitsu.
The jizo statue on the middle of three set of statues (photo #4) is Hashiwaya Jizo statue. Hashiwaya is an abolished upscale Japanese restaurant said to have been located close to Jojuin and is best known as the place the assassination of Henry Heusken(1861) was being discussed. Jizo statue was erected in 1839 by the owner of the restaurant as a memorial for his daugher who had been passed away in young age. The statue left of Hashiwaya Jizo is Koshin-to Statue. Koshin(Geng-Shen) is 57th year(day) of Chinese sexagency cycle. It is called Eto in Japan and is widely used as a sexagesimal.
Nagayo Moto'ori (1885-1945), one of the sixth generation descendants of noted 18th century scholar Norinaga Moto'ori(1730-1801), is best known for composing popular Japanese Children's songs such as Nanatsu-no-ko (Seven Baby Crows), Aoi-Me-no-Ningyo(The Blue-eyed Doll). The monument of the composer is located near the Seishido. The musical notation inscribed on the monument is part of the Japanese children's song Jugoya Otsukisan(Full Moon) also composed by Nagayo Moto'ori.
Ryusenji Seishido located left at the momument of Ikki Kita is one of the few buildings of Meguro Fudoson that are part of mid-17th century era temple. The temple lost most of the Edo-period buildings because of fires, earthquakes and most recently the air raids during Second World War. Seishido is similar in style to Maefudo-Do. It was formerly located adjacent to Maefudo-Do but it was moved to present place when Maefudo-Do was renovated in 1969.
Close to Maefudo-do there are two tall monuments, taller of which is one for Konyo Aoki and the other is for Ikki Kita.
Konyo Aoki(1698-1769) is a rangaku(western learning through Dutch written materials) scholar who is best known for his efforts to grow sweet potatoes in Japan. His tomb is in Ryusenji temple and on October 28 a festival called Kansho Matsuri is held to show respect for him.
Ikki Kita(1883-1937) is an ultra-nationalist and one of the advocates of right-wing socialism. He is also a devout Nichiren Buddhist and his aggressive beliefs are partly inspired from Nichiren's teachings. He joined Xinhai Revolution led by Sun Yat-sen in 1911 and his ideology urged some military coups during mid 1930s. Ikki was arrested for a failed coup attempt in 1936 and was executed in 1937. This monument was erected in 1958 by his followers and the inscription of the monument was written by Shumei Okawa one of Ikki's comrades.
During Edo period Maefudo-Do served as the substitute place for worship when the Grand Hall of the temple was occupied by feudal lords and the entry of ordinary people were prohibited. The gardian statues of the sub-temple are yamainu. Some scholars speculate that Yamainus are either wolves or wolf-dog hybrids. They had been treated as sacred animals in Japan in old times. Around its sub-temple lie some monuments of historical figures such as Konyo Aoki and Ikki Kita.
When you go down the Onnazaka slope of the Meguro Fudoson, you will find a caved shrine. In it there is a copper statue of legendary ascetic in late 7th to early 8th century, En-no-Gyoja who is said to be the founder of Shinto-Buddhism hybrid religion, Shugendo. The statue, 1.42 meters in overall height, 0.93 meters in sitting height, was erected in 1796.
Otokozaka(upslope for men) and Onnazaka(upslope for women) are the names often given to the slopes to the summit of religious mountain or the main hall of temples or shrine on top of the hill. So irrespective of gender, you can climb up the hill from either slope. Otokozaka is direct and steep slope to the destination while Onnazaka is milder and longer slope to the top. Otokozaka of Meguro Fudoson is the steep stairs to the top of the hill where main hall is located. Most of the visitors seem to climb up the Otokozaka and use Onnazaka as downslope and I recommend it that way, too. Onnazaka has some nice monuments for commemorating the visit (some say for the 100th visit) and a cavenous shrine enshrining a legendary sage, Ennogyoja. To climb down the Onnazaka slope turn left at the decorative lantern.
Dokko-no-Taki is a spring of water pouring out from the bluff of the hill of Meguro Fudoson. It was said that when the Ennin the founder of the temple threw a tokko(vajra), an instrument used in Esoteric Buddhism as a reminder of the place, springs emerged from the bluff. Since then the spring water has been used as a purification for the body and the old building beside the springs of water is called Korido enshrining a dragon-god. In 1996, an acala statue called Mizukake-Fudo statue was built to share the benevolence of the spring water which is believed to grant various kinds of wishes.
This Tendai-sect Buddhist temple founded in 808 is one of the five major Fudosons(the temples enshrining Acala) in Edo(current Tokyo). During Ego Shogunate during early 17th to late 19th centuries the temple was incorporated into one of the affiliate temples of Kan'eiji Temple in Ueno. Many of the buildings were lost by fires or natural disasters but some of the building during Edo period survived. Today this temple lures lots of people by their newer Acala statue near the Dokko-no-Taki which used to be the place for purification. The acala which is called Mizukake-Fudo(literally water-splashing acala) was built in 1996 as a substitute for the principle object of worship of the temple, and is said to shoulder the purging training for the person who splashes the acala statue then fulfilling the splasher's wishes. This temple used to rival Sensoji temple in Asakusa or Kan'eiji Temple in Ueno for popularity and even Hiroshige painted the view around the temple.
The park , 12.08 ha in area, was formerly a Forestry Research Station under Forestry Ministry until 1978. Rinshi is a short word for Ringyo-Shikenjo, Japanese word for Forestry Research Station. The park has a wide variety of trees and plants as well as a number of kiddie parks and splash pond for children during summer. This area is also popular among cyclists, walkers, joggers, and birdwatchers.