Zojo-ji Temple & Shiba Park, Tokyo
Zojoji Temple, located next to Shiba Park and just a bit down the hill from Tokyo Tower, is incredible. The temple grounds are vast (I think larger even than Senso-ji) and a delight to the senses. The first thing we noticed was rank upon rank of stone statues, all wearing little red hats and most with those colorful whirly-gig toys next to them. So we were very curious, and although there was no mention of them in the little booklet we picked up, Mishu learned that they are called Ojizo, the subject of a touching little Japanese fairy tale, which you can read at http://www.japanippon.com/fairytales/jizo.htm. Then we saw this massive bell -- ten feet high, weighing fifteen tons -- which is tolled twice a day, six times each in the early morning and in the evening. It dates to 1673; the temple complex was founded in 1393 but most of the buildings were destroyed in World War II air raids. Only the main gate, constructed in 1622, survives. There are numerous tombs of Tokugawa shoguns and their families on the grounds. We didn't get to see what promised to be the most fascinating feature of the interior, the revolving octagonal-shaped book shelves, because you had to climb a lot of steps and with a baby carriage and an ailing mother, that didn't seem like the wisest course of action. I'd very much like to return to spend a longer period of time getting to know the Temple complex in more detail.
There are hundreds of colourfully clothed and decorated stone jizo (Ojizo Sama) statues. The Jizo statues are used in the ceremonies for burial of infants and special ceremonies for the souls of unborn and stillborn children.
Traditionally Jizo is seen as the guardian of children, particularly children who died before their parents. He is one of the most loved divinities in Japan.
When I saw the rows of the colourful statues it felt strange, you can almost feel the spirits. Yeah you probably right it could be my imagination.
Just a minute walk from our hotel is the imposing SANGENDATSUMON, the main gate to the Zojoji Temple.
According to the Zojoji site, the gate has been designated by the State as an important cultural property. Its name - Sangendatsumon - means a gate (mon) for getting delivered (gedatsu) from three (san) earthly states of man - greed, anger and stupidity.
Zojoji was founded in 1393 as an orthodox and fundamental nembutsu seminary for Jodo shu in the Kanto (east Japan) region.(source-http://www.zojoji.or.jp/en/index.html)
This gate is very significant to our trip to Tokyo as it also served as our landmark on our way back to the hotel especially after a tiring day's walking tour! It is a pleasant tour here especially as you don't have to pay any admission fees too!
I also read somewhere that the gardens around the temple used to be the hunting grounds of the shogun Ieyasu. This temple is quirky yet magical as the sculptured gardens and water features entertained even my robust and pesky boys!
There are are exquisite statutes, colourful flowers and trimmed trees. There are also tombstone like monuments with Japanese symbols and rows and rows of little statues with mostly red flowers and with beanies!
The latter are jizobos, protector of the souls of stillborn babies!They are more like angels if you liken them to Christian religion, I think.
I thought the Zojoji Temple is worth visiting. As you approached the temple ground you’ll walk through the 1605 impressive Chinese Tang Dynasty style gate Sangedatsumon. The temple has beautiful parks and garden surrounded by trees and flowers. There are Cedar trees planted by General Grant and George Bush. The statues of jizobosatusu, the protector of the souls of stillborn, graveyards and mausoleum of the Tokugawa family, the Daibonsho the big bell can be found on the temple grounds. There are other statues representing the Buddhist Temple of the Jodo Shu sect at the temple ground. Inside the temple you’ll see the decorative golden alter.
Zojoji Temple is a Buddhist Temple originally of Chinzai sect of Shingon and change to the Jodo Shu sect in 1393. During the Edo period, Zojoji served as the temple of the Tokugawa family. The temple was badly damaged in World War II. The building was reconstructed in 1974.
I like this temple most in Tokyo. Its not only because of its famous name but alos it is well-situated in the best part of Tokyo (Shiba park). Its not far from Imperial Palace. It is also near Tokyo tower where you can see many cherry-blossom trees. My father's funeral was performed here.
Inside Zojozi Temple you can take a photo of cedar tree that was planted by the 18th president of USA General Ulysses S. Grant, when he visited the temple as a guest of the nation in 1879. There’s also Cedar tree planted by George H.W Bush in 1982 when he was the vice president (see photo).
This temple in Shibuya Park is dedicated to the memory of children that are still born. Each of the little doll statues represent a memorial from the families of the children. I am not an emotional person but must admit this place got to me a little, seeing the rows and rows of dolls and knowing what it meant.
Tokyo tower is a bit matter-of-fact during the day.
But see it in the night. So brightly lit!
It's so Romantic, so often used for filming.
You can also see it from Shinbashi, Toranomon and other areas near there.
Zojoji Temple is the chief temple of the Jodo-Buddist sect.
Moved to what is now known as Shiba Koen by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the mausoleums of the Tokugawa Shoguns flank each side of the Zojoji.
Hoping to usurp influence from the Buddhist temples, the rulers of Meiji Japan turned the the Shiba area into a public park.
A nice wander around the park and temple does wonders for your spiritual peace.
Look out for the Jizo statues capped with their red bonnets and decorated with plastic flowers and colorful windmills that move with the wind.
As we walked towards Tokyo Tower, we stumbled upon this Zojoji temple.
Apparently it is quite a major temple in Tokyo.
And more importantly, it has Tokyo Tower as it's background.
So we waited till dark and took some great photos of the temple with Tokyo Tower in the background.
There were lotsa cute Jizo statues in the temple cemetery.
If you are going to Tokyo Tower by way of Hamamatsucho Station, you can't help but come across the Zojo-ji Temple. You can't miss the large red colored entrance.
A nice place to stop for a few minutes and use up some film.
Zojoji Temple is located just about a 5 mins walk from Tokyo Tower. The temple was founded in 1393 and it belong to the Jodo Buddhist Sect. Zojoji was destroyed in 1945 and were replaced by replicas.
The deepest impression of Zojoji Temple is not the structure but the rows of little statues of Jizobosatsu dressed in red knitted baby clothing, caps and holding a toy windmill. They are said to be the protector of the souls of stillborn child.
A cedar tree that was planted by President Ulysses S Grant in 1879 is found in the garden near the Sanmon. A huge temple bell casted in 1673 can be found in the garden.
Zojoji Temple is located just about a 5 mins walk from Tokyo Tower.
Zojoji Temple is the head of the Jodo sect of Buddhism in Kanto. The current hondo was reconstructed in 1974 and many of the other buildings are also new. The Sangedatsumon Gate however, dates back to 1622. This is the only structure here that has survived since the Edo Period. The objects of worship within the hondo are also ancient (Muromachi Period), despite the hondo itself being new.
The temple contains a mausoleum for the Tokugawas because it was made a Tokugawa family temple by Tokugawa Ieyasu. There are 6 Tokugawa shoguns, a princess, and some shoguns' wives and children buried here.
Although I don't think it was planned this way, the borrowed scenery of Tokyo Tower behind the temple has made it into a nice photo-op. Many people like to come here to get a picture of the temple with the tower behind it.
Entrance is free, so it's a nice stop for those going to Kyoto Tower.
Funnily enough, this place was located around 15 minutes walk from my office in Tokyo, and I never visited in the entire time I was living in Tokyo.
It's far from overcrowded and well worth a look if you are visiting nearby Tokyo tower.
It's a shortish walk also from Hamamatsu-cho station.