Tokyo Tower, the tallest self-supporting steel tower in the world, stands 1,091 feet above Tokyo, Japan. The second-tallest artificial structure in the country resembles Paris' Eiffel Tower and provides income to Tokyo from tourism and communications. Tokyo Tower boasts a birds-eye view of the city, including some of the city's historic Buddhist temples. The temples represent Tokyo's homage to the past amid modern commercialism. Each one features a monument dedicated to Buddhist deities and historic figures.
Located next to the Tokyo Tower, Zojoji Temple was constructed in 1393 and moved to its current spot in 1598. It served as the temple for the Tokugawa family, and the family mausoleum still stands on the property. The main gate, named Sanmon, was built in 1605, exemplifying Chinese Tang Dynasty style and Edo-period architecture of the 17th century. The onsite garden features plants, a large bell, statues and trees, including one planted in 1879 by U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. It now operates as the primary place of worship for the Jodo-Buddhist sect. The interior boasts an ornate golden altar where Buddhists chant and pray.
Sengakuji Temple, located about two miles from the tower, is known for its cemetery containing the grave of the "47 Ronin," the samurai soldiers involved in a historic event. The story of the 47 Ronin began with the removal of the Asano family from power in 1701 and the subsequent death of Lord Asano. His unemployed samurai worked a year and a half to avenge his death. On Dec. 14, 1702, they killed Lord Kita in his mansion and cut off his head. The 47 Ronin were sentenced to commit ritual suicide. The temple has a museum commemorating their sacrifice. Visitors burn incense at the graveyard to honor the samurai.
About seven miles from Tokyo Tower, Sensoji Temple is less than a block from Asakusa Station, a transportation hub with subway and train lines. Also referred to as Asakusa Temple, it is the oldest in Tokyo, constructed in 645. According to Japan-Guide.com, legend says that, in 628, two brothers caught a statue of Kannon, goddess of mercy, while fishing in the Sumida River. Even though they threw the statue in the water, it came back. The temple was built in to honor the goddess. The temple features a five-story pagoda and the Asakusa Shrine, which honors the three men who founded the temple.
Constructed in 1657, Eko-in, a Jodo-Buddhist temple, is less than six miles from the Tokyo Tower. The temple was built the same year as the Great Meireki fire, which raged for two days in Tokyo, razing nearly two-thirds of the city. About 100,000 people lost their lives. To memorialize fire victims, Shogun Ietsuna authorized the construction of a monument on the temple grounds called Banninzuka, meaning "The Mound of a Million Souls." The temple grounds have become a resting place for disaster victims, unclaimed criminals and animals. It features manicured gardens and Buddha statues, including one of Kannon Buddha.
- Japan-Guide.com: Tokyo Tower
- Zojoji: The Chief Temple of the Jodo-Buddhist Sect: Main Temple of Jodo shu (Pure Land Sect) of Buddhism
- Japan Cultural Profile: Buddhist Architecture in the Edo Period (1600-1868)
- Japan-Guide.com: Sengakuji Temple
- Japanese Lifestyle: Sensoji Temple
- Japan Visitor: Japan City Guides: Ryogoku: Eko-in Temple
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