Seishoko-ji Temple's smiling Ebisu carving (Photo: Takayuki Miki / CC BY-ND 2.0)
Seishoko-ji Temple's smiling Ebisu carving (Photo: Takayuki Miki / CC BY-ND 2.0)
- 2 min read

Seishoko-ji Temple

Discovering enjoyment in the details

Tokyo, home to an incredible history, is filled with an almost never ending array of temples and shrines. Some small, others large, each temple and shrine comes complete with its own history and character.

Granted, you can easily have your fill of temples and shrines; generic patterns fill the mind and eventually one temple becomes the next temple and the one after that. Except in the details. Look a little closer and every temple comes alive with its own unique story and idiosyncrasies. Know the story of a temple and your enjoyment of it can go a long way.

Sitting in Hamacho Park in Tokyo's Chuo City Ward lies the small Nichiren Buddhist temple, Seishoko-ji. The grounds of the temple were part of the domains of the Kumamoto clan in the Edo period, becoming the residence of the Hosokawa clan come the Meiji period. Established in the mid-seventeenth century, the temple came to be in honour of the much respected - feared - martially driven feudal lord, Kato Kiyomasa, a fervent believer in Nichiren Buddhism. The current temple building dates back to the mid-twentieth century.

Kato lived his life entirely by the precepts of the warrior, at times brutally dealing with his enemies when thought necessary. Knowing this makes a visit to Seishoko-ji Temple even more remarkable - small, green and utterly devoid of grandeur, the temple almost feels as if it is a garden overgrown. Gentle tributes to mighty warriors are not uncommon in Japan.

Sitting by the entrance to the temple sits a carving of a Japanese deity. Ebisu, master of fisherman and good fortune is sculpted out of a piece of wood, his smile and countenance exuding a life and utter joy that speaks volumes about Seishoko-ji Temple.

Getting there

Take the Toei Shinjuku Line to Hamacho Station. Head out the A2 Exit for a 2-minute stroll to the temple.

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Elizabeth S 3 years ago
The more I learn about temple history and architecture, the more they come alive for me. It's those details. I've had wonderful encounters with local members and priests just by lingering a little. People's lives are in those details.
Kim 3 years ago
Love what you said about really paying attention to the little details!
Sleiman Azizi Author 3 years ago
They're all there! It makes visiting these kinds of places just that little bit more interesting.
Elena Lisina 3 years ago
What an unique carving! Great found!
Elena Lisina 3 years ago
Yes! And pretty big sack of good luck! )))

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