Being a Japanese and having lived in Tokyo for years, it isn’t a major surprise for me to hear the peal of the temple bells, but in fact I did get marveled when I heard the ‘dong dong’ sound as I was walking down the Ameyoko market. Why would there be the sound of someone striking a bell when there are no temples around here? However, I was wrong – I saw a temple in a corner, on top of a shop in Ameyoko.
This temple, positioned modestly on top of a bean shop, right in the middle of the boisterous commercial strip, is Tokudai-ji (徳大寺). The temple enshrines Marishiten, the Buddhist guardian goddess, who gives vitality, strength, and wealth, getting rid of the evil, letting in good fortune, and giving good luck to the people who pray to her. Coincidentally or not, this temple of Marishiten was never hurt when the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) came, or even during the Bombing of Tokyo in World War Ⅱ (1945). Tokudai-ji is definitely protected by the goddess of good luck.
You will also encounter a unique scene that is only available at this temple. Since it is located at the height of a second story instead of ground level, and because Ameyoko is right by the station, you will see the elevated green JR Yamanote Line passing just behind the statues of the Saint Nichiren, Shichimen-sama, and the Tsumagoi-Jizou – a mixture of historical and modern elements. Listening to all of the excitement of the market downstairs and walking up close to the goddess to pray is also an interesting contrast that you could experience at Tokudai-ji.
While you walk down the crowded and overheated shopping street, it is a good idea to walk up to the temple of good fortune and drift away into its fascinating world for a split moment. Not only is it calming and relaxing, but the guardian goddess who has protected this temple from disaster may also give you good luck.