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The Temples of Meguro

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We only visited Meguro because of its reputation as a great spot to view cherry blossoms. But while there, we figured we should see more, and embarked on a walk that took us to four of the neighborhood’s temples.

Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo

On the eastern side of the Meguro River, we encountered the Daien-ji, which has the dubious honor of being where the Great Meiwa Fire of 1772 sparked to life. The second of the three “great” fires of Edo, the Meiwa blaze resulted in thousands of deaths, and the utter destruction of a huge percentage of the city. To honor the dead and perhaps by way of atonement, the temple commissioned 520 stone statues, each individually carved with a different expression, to be placed within its grounds.

Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo

Across the river, we came upon a similar set of statues in the Gohyaku Rakan-ji, whose name means “500 Arhat Temple” (an Arhat being a Buddhist who has achieved enlightenment). Beginning in 1691, a single priest hand-sculpted 536 wooden Arhats, 278 of which have survived into the present day, preserved in two grand halls at the Gohyaku Rakan-ji. These are much larger than the statues of Daien-ji, and more intricate. Legend has it that if you pray personally to each figure, you’ll be granted the ability to look into the afterlife and commune with your dearly departed.

Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo

Continuing west, we found ourselves at Meguro’s largest temple, the Ryūsen-ji or Meguro Fudo, founded in 808. The old city of Edo had long been protected by five guardian deities, or Fudō-Myōō, each with eyes of a different color. The black-eyed one, or Meguro Fudō, was placed here, providing the neighborhood with its name. The grounds of this temple are expansive, and during our visit, they were resplendent in cherry blossoms.

One final temple awaited us, and although the Tako Yakushi (Octopus Temple) had the most intriguing name, it was the smallest of the day and rather boring. Neither of us cared much, though, since we’d already had our fill of temples. Besides, it was way past lunchtime and there happened to be an excellent tempura restaurant adjacent to the Tako Yakushi.

In between slurping soba and scarfing fried veggies, we talked about the day and the number of shrines and temples we had seen. We visited four, but had walked past many more. Given the abundance of places to worship, it was surprising to learn that Japan is among the world’s least religious countries, with up to 80% of the population professing no belief at all. This does, though, explain why Tokyo’s temples are so quiet, considering the suffocating crowds everywhere else. The fewer believers, the more peaceful the temples. Probably not what the country’s religious leaders are hoping for, but we like it.

Locations on our Map: Daien-ji | Gohyaku Rakan-ji | Ryūsen-ji | Tako Yakushi

Framed Photos From Tokyo

More Photos of the Daien-ji
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
Daien-ji Shrine Tokyo
More Photos of the Gohyaku Rakan-ji
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Tokyo
More Photos of the Ryūsen-ji
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
Ryūsen-ji  Meguro Fudo
More Photos of the Tako Yakushi
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May 13, 2014 at 2:53 am Comments (2)

Sakura, Sakura: The Cherry Blossoms of Tokyo

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For a short period at the beginning of April, the word “sakura” becomes a prominent noun in approximately 75% of the sentences spoken in Tokyo. Because when the city’s cherry trees bloom, there’s no talking about anything else. You’re either chatting about the blossoms, planning your picnic in the park, sitting in a rowboat under the trees, or strolling along a path while the petals flutter to the ground like the sweetest, most fragrant snowfall imaginable.

We celebrated the season by visiting a variety of Tokyo’s most popular viewing spots. Parks, paths, cemeteries… anywhere a cherry tree grew, we found people assembled around it. During these few, fleeting days, Tokyo becomes a more magical place.

Meguro River Sakura
The Meguro River

Our first sakura excursion was to the southwestern neighborhood of Meguro, where a foul-smelling river winds its way toward Tokyo Bay. Cherry trees line the banks of the Meguro, and a couple well-placed bridges provide perfect views of the blossoms. Here, we got our first taste of the massive crowds which turn out for the sakuras. We were shocked, and a little annoyed by the hundreds of photographers jostling along the bridges for a prime position. Little did we know that Meguro would be by far the least congested spot on our itinerary. [26 More Photos | Location]

Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery

One of the biggest cemeteries in Tokyo, Aoyama is famous for its cherry blossoms. Sakuras are a harbinger of winter’s end and a return to life, and their blossoming above a field of graves lends their celebrated beauty a certain symbolic weight. [34 More Photos | Location]

Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park

After Ueno Park, Chidorigafuchi is the most popular spot in Tokyo for viewing the cherry blossoms. This winding channel was part of the moat which once protected the Imperial Palace, and today sports an impenetrable wall of cherry trees. A walk along the waterside and over the pedestrian bridge into Kitanomaru Park has become an essential Tokyo experience. The crowds are wearying, but should you make it to Kitanomaru, you can reward yourself with an extended nap under the blossoms. At least, that’s what we did. [57 More Photos | Location]

Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijōji

We had thought that Kichijōji’s Inokashira Park, fifteen kilometers to the west of the city center, would have less daunting crowds. Hah! We visited the park on Saturday, when the hamami (flower viewing parties) were truly getting underway, and every inch of ground was occupied by people enjoying elaborate, sake-soaked picnics.

We hadn’t been invited to a party, and I was jealous of the intoxicated fun everyone was having, but we joined in as well as possible by grabbing beer and bento-boxes from a nearby restaurant, and renting a row-boat. Traffic on the pond was crazy, and smashing into other boats was both unavoidable and hilarious, but we eventually steered ourselves to a prime location underneath a gorgeous cherry tree, where we enjoyed our meals with a view of the pond through a veil of falling petals. [32 More Photos | Location]

Sakura Sumida River Park
Sumida River Park

After spending the day in Inokashira, we returned to the city and went to the Sumida River Park near Asakusa for the evening. The trees along the bank were illuminated and the river itself was glowing with the traffic of colorful pleasure boats. There was a younger crowd here, playing music on guitars and getting progressively rowdier as the evening wore on. It looked like most of the revelers planned on sleeping outside; in fact, but by the time we left, many were already passed out. [11 More Photos | Location]

Sakura Ueno Park
Ueno Park

The atmosphere on Saturday had been one of drunken revelry, so we weren’t surprised to find that Sunday in Ueno Park was decidedly hungover. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, but this didn’t stop people from congregating in the thousands. The cherry blossoms which had arrived a mere week ago were starting to collect on the ground, and the party was winding down.

That was fine by us; we were suffering from sakura-overdose, and had visited Ueno more out of a sense of duty than pleasure. Despite our flagging energy, we didn’t want to miss the city’s most famous cherry blossom spot, and say farewell to a cultural phenomenon, the likes of which we wouldn’t soon be forgetting. [28 More Photos | Location]

Book Your Tokyo Hotel Now For The Next Sakura Season

More Photos from the Meguro River
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura

More Photos from Aoyama Cemetery
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo

More Photos from Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park

More Photos from Inokashira Park in Kichij?ji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichij?jo

More Photos from the Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park

More Photos from Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
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April 9, 2014 at 10:58 am Comments (12)

The Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens

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A green oasis floating atop the murky waters of Tokyo Bay, the Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens will transport you to the days of the Shogun, as long as you manage to keep your eyes focused on the duck ponds and cherry trees, instead of the impenetrable row of skyscrapers on the horizon.

Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens

In 1654, the swamp which had occupied this space was filled in to create the private residence of the Shogun’s brother, Matsudaira Tsunashige. With its multiple tidal ponds, the land would become the duck-hunting grounds of the ruling class, and was eventually opened to the public as a park in 1946. Throughout its history, Hamarikyo has managed to avoid the urban expansion that’s transformed the rest of Tokyo.

We visited on a chilly morning in March, too early for cherry blossoms, but just in time for the fragrant yellow blooms of the rapeseed field. With wooden bridges spanning the small ponds, ducks bobbing sleepily on the water, and quaint tea houses serving matcha (powdered green tea) to weary walkers, it’s hard not to enjoy the gardens. Even the ill-fitting backdrop of Shiodome’s gargantuan steel skyscrapers somehow underline the beauty of Hamarikyo.

Location on our Map

Travel Insurance For Your Tokyo Trip

Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
Hamarikyu Detached Palace Gardens
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March 20, 2014 at 6:20 am Comments (4)
The Temples of Meguro We only visited Meguro because of its reputation as a great spot to view cherry blossoms. But while there, we figured we should see more, and embarked on a walk that took us to four of the neighborhood's temples.
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