Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Exploring Tokyo: Setagaya Dori and Daikeizan Gotuokuji

Right across the street (about a block away) from Setagaya Hachimangu shrine in Setagaya is the much larger grounds of the Buddhist Daikeizan Gotuokuji temple. These grounds are at least 2 large blocks square, and serve both as a cemetery and as the home of various other ceremonies. There's not a lot written up officially in English about this place, other than that it's the origin of the Beckoning Cat (maneki-neko) legend, and the burial site for Ii Naosuke.

(Entrance to the gift shop.)

The Beckoning Cat is very well-established in Japan, and little cat statues with one paw raised can be found in nearly every business in the country (many businesses have 3 or more of these statues, to wish for more customers). If you want more info on this, check out the wiki entry, or this site. Unfortunately, the temple's gift shop was closed when I went there yesterday, so I couldn't get a photo of all the cats they have for sale.

(Part of the large cemetery at the temple.)

Ii Naosuke was a daimyo and a representative of the Tokugawa Shogunate. He's best known for signing the Harris treaty, which opened up Japan to U.S. trade. He was also one of the last remaining symbols of the Shogunate, and his assassination outside the Shogun's castle in Edo pretty much signaled the end of the Tokugawa family's 200-year reign in power.

(Side entrance to the grounds from the street.)

(Detail of the incense urn.)

(More detail.)

(Detail on the roof of one of the many buildings here. Notice the cloud motif.)

(Notice the stand in the foreground.)

(Stand detail.)

(More detail

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