Memorials to Tokugawa Ieyasu

The great shogun in Ryogoku and Nikko

By Elena Lisina    - 2 min read

It’s impossible to know everything about where you are going ahead of time. So one of the main pleasures of travelling is learning new things after experiencing them. Visiting Edo-Tokyo Museum recently, I came across a large figure of Tokugawa Ieyasu carved out of wood and it reminded me of my former ‘meetings’ with that important person.

The monument to Tokugawa Ieyasu in Ryogoku
The monument to Tokugawa Ieyasu in Ryogoku

Once, while walking in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo, I came across a monument and took a photo of it. The monument pictured a man with a hawk resting on his arm. The figure of the man was raised on a tall column, standing on a large. I immediately understood that this was a very important person, as the turtle in Japanese and Chinese mythology is a symbol of power and immortality - the turtle supports the World Mountain, a refuge of the immortals.

The turtle - a symbol of immortality and power
The turtle - a symbol of immortality and power

I later found out that the monument was to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the ruler who united Japan following the efforts of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He was founder and first shogun of the powerful Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled 265 years until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. As a person, Tokugawa is described as intelligent, bold, loyal to his allies, friends and vassals.

The gates leading to the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu
The gates leading to the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu

I also learnt that Tokugawa Ieyasu was ranked as a Shinto kami and was buried in Nikko. I visited the Nikko temple complex a few years ago and was amazed by how impressive it was. Walking through the gates richly decorated with carving and colours, I found more and more temples, and finally a door leading to a high stone staircase.

Stairs as a challenge to reach the top
Stairs as a challenge to reach the top

Reaching the top was challenging and reminded of a trip to a mountain shrine. And there, on the top was a powerful bronze tomb, locked behind powerful gates. Bronze statues in front of the tomb symbolised power and immortality, the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu - a man whose memory is immortalised in Japan.

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: Matane!

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Sleiman Azizi a month ago
Nikko left me absolutely speechless when I visited.
Elena Lisina Author a month ago
Yes, me too! I went there in afternoon and stayed till evening, when there was almost nobody around - it was SO mysterious!