Gokoku-in Temple in Ueno

Visit the god of happiness and wealth in Tokyo

By Peter Sidell    - 2 min read

In the area between Ueno and Tabata stations in central Tokyo, there's a group of temples where you can visit the 'Seven Divinities of Good Fortune'. It includes Ikebenten-do on the pond in Ueno Park, Tennoji and Choan-ji in Yanaka, and Gokoku-in, a little way west of Ueno Park along the road from the National Museum.

The divinity enshrined at Gokoku-in is Daikoku-ten, god of happiness and wealth, whose name is written in big kanji on the lanterns in front of the main hall. 'Big Black Sky', if I'm not mistaken. The temple grounds are fairly pleasant, with a side hall where you can see an impressive painting, but it's inside that's the main draw.

It is OK for visitors to enter the hall - I checked - and you'll be rewarded with a beautiful, atmospheric interior, softly lit in a way that's relaxing but difficult for photography. Padding around on the soft, cool tatami, I could admire decoratively carved wooden paneling, attractive paintings and prints, a large painting of a dragon.

There are three altars to worship at, all with their own points of interest: serene Buddhist statues on the left, the deity Ebisu flanked by heavenly generals on the right, a large, golden statue of Daikokuten (I assume) in the centre, sitting peacefully on a lotus with a beautiful carved backing. smaller statues either side of deities riding mythical beasts.

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Peter Sidell

Peter Sidell @peter.sidell

I came to Japan from Manchester, England in 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I'm not working, I write satire and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check YouTube for a taste.