Sunday, May 17, 2009

Going to Takao, Part 1

This is going to be another multi-part entry, so bear with me. Although, if you want to get a jump on me, you can check out the entire photo album at Media Fire.

First, we'll start with Takahata Fudoson-Kongoji Temple. This is a Buddhist temple located in Takahata, just west of the Takahata Fudou station on the Keiou monorail line, in the city of Hino. It's west of Tokyo, a few miles past the Tamagawa.

(Front gate.)

Takahata Fudoson-Kongoji Temple is one of the larger complexes I've seen in Tokyo, and is spread out over at least one large block. Because it's Buddhist, it has a cemetery function, and I'm pretty sure that one of the buildings was being used to pray for someone's recently departed soul. Inside, a priest was chanting, and someone behind him was pounding on a taiko drum. A few people were standing in front of the priest, praying. Of course, as with all temples and shrines, one building sold omikuji (sheets with your fortune printed on them).

(Map of the grounds.)

According to the Tokyo Tourism office, Fudoson is known for its Daruma doll fair at New Year's Eve. Apparently, it's also known for its chrysanthemums, but I didn't see any while I was there.

(Toshizo Hijikata)

One of the more interesting elements though is that there's a statue dedicated to Hijikata Toshizo, one of the founding members of the Shinsengumi. According to the wiki entry, Hijikata was born in Hino in 1835, and the Shinsengumi was formed in 1863 as a special police force located in Kyoto (the capital of Japan at the time). The group's main purpose was to support the shogun against the Emperor's attempts to eliminate the shogunate. He was ruthless in enforcing the Shinsengumi's rules, and forced anyone trying to leave to commit seppuku, thus garnering him the nickname "the Demon of the Shinsengumi". He eventually died in one of the final battles against the new government's army in Hakodate, when his back was shattered by a bullet. Hijikata's final resting place is unknown, but there's a memorial stone with his name on it near Itabashi station, in Tokyo.

While I was wandering around, one woman asked if I wanted her to take my photo. Initially it didn't seem necessary, but a few seconds later I decided "why not".

(Shinsengumi Manju!)

One thing I found amusing was the building across the street from the temple grounds. It's the Takahashi Manju store. Manju are soft rice-paste balls with a bean paste filling. This place has portraits of the Shinsengumi leaders painted on the front and sides. Shinsengumi manju!

(The street's still being cleared of stalls from the last festival.)

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