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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Yagenbori Fudoin


Yagenbori Fudoin in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Yagenbori Fudoin Temple in Bakurocho neigborhood, Chuo ward, Tokyo.

Yagenbori Fudoin is a small, picturesque temple in the Nihonbashi-bakurocho area of Chuo ward, Tokyo, with a distinctive pagoda. It is distinctive first for its pretty octagonal roof perched like a hat on a head-like sphere, and also for being on a high platform, accessible by a flight of stairs flanked by red banners. It is also somewhat distinctive for being squeezed between nondescript concrete buildings that only serve to accentuate its charms.

A fudoin is a temple belonging to the esoteric Shingon branch of Buddhism championed in Japan by the priest Kukai (774–835). Yagenbori Fudoin was one of the three major Fudoins in old Edo (i.e., Tokyo in the pre-modern era), the other two being Meguro Fudoin in Meguro ward, and Mejiro Fudoin in Toshima ward. (Incidentally, Meguro and Mejiro mean, respectively "eye black" and "eye white" - an interesting contrast that in this context might just be a coincidence, but which warrants looking into for a future blog post, maybe!)

Yagenbori Fudoin - an annex of Kawasaki Daishi.
People paying their respects at Yagenbori Fudoin, Chuo ward, Tokyo.

Of these three, Yagenbori Fudoin is different in that it is actually the annex of another temple located over 22km to the south, in Kawasaki City - a temple called Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji belonging to the Chisan sect of Shingon Buddhism. Kawasaki Daishi.

Kawasaki Daishi is one of the biggest temples of the Chisan School of the Shingon sect. The other two in the Kanto region are Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita City, Chiba, and Takao-san Yakuo-in Yuki-ji Temple in Hachioji City, Tokyo),

The object of veneration at Yagenbori Fudoin is a statue of the Acala, or the Fudō Myō-ō as it is known in Japanese, carved to celebrate the fact that the Shingon school reformer, the priest Kakuban (1095–1143) survived his 43rd year which, in Buddhist reckoning, was an inauspicious one. The statue was placed in Negoro Temple in present-day Wakayama prefecture.

Yagenbori Fudoin with a display of the products of a temple sponsor.
Yagenbori Fudoin, with products of a sponsor on display in front

Then about four centuries later, in 1585, Negoro Temple was burnt down in one of the wars waged by Japan's second "great unifier," Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The priest of the temple put the statue in a chest and carried it all the way to Edo (current day Tokyo) where he built a temple beside the Sumida River, which became today's Yagenbori Fudoin.

In 1832, the temple became the site of a school founded by a priest to teach Western-style medicine. Then in 1892, it became a branch temple of Kawasaki Daishi.

A three-day fair takes place every year at the festival around December 28.

Yagenbori Fudoin is a 3-minute walk from Exit B3 of Higashi-nihonbashi Station on the Toei Asakusa Subway Line, and a 5-minute walk from Exit A4 of Bakuro-yokoyamacho Station on the Toei Shinjuku Subway Line.

Yagenbori Fudoin in a placid neighborhood of Nihonbashibakurocho, Chuo ward, Tokyo.
Yagenbori Fudoin Temple squeezed between neighbors in Bakurocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
2-6-8 Higashi-nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

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