Translated by Jelena Kitamura
Tokyo's Sengakuji - Where The Brave 47 Ronin Sleep
Sengakuji, the temple of Soto Sect, located in Minato ward of Tokyo, is visited by many people interested in the life and death of the famous 47 Ronin of Ako, known for the Chushingura Incident. Read about the temple's events and spots down below.
Written by Yumiko Delor
Welcome to Sengakuji!
Sengakuji is located in Minato ward of Tokyo, and is a temple of Soto Buddhist sect (Sotoshu: a sect originally part of Zen Buddhism). It was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1612, the founder of Edo Shogunate (Bakufu) in Japan.
The first Sengakuji actually existed in Chiyoda ward but perished due to a great fire in 1641. The grandson of the great Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Iemitsu, then decided to have it rebuilt again and ordered five daimyos, including the lord of the Ako Domain (*1), Asano, to build a new version of the temple where it stands today.
Probably the most famous episode related to the Ako Domain is the great 47 Ronin of Ako (the samurais of the Ako Domain; *2) avenging their lord and dying together by committing seppuku (ritual suicide by cutting open one’s stomach) – or the so-called Chushingura episode.
Those ronin warriors were praised for their devotion and loyalty to their lord after their death, so they were often also called the Loyal Ronin of Ako (Ako Gishi; *3). And the very place where these brave men were buried is precisely here, at Sengakuji. With The 47 Ako Ronin Museum showing the property that once belonged to the 47 Ronins, and 47 wooden statues of the warriors standing tall at The Ronin Statue Museum, this temple is a must-visit place for any Chushingura fan out there, and they just keep coming every day.
*1 Ako: the area around Ako city in Hyogo prefecture today.
*2 Roshi: also called Ronin; the name for the samurai warriors who lost their lord or no longer serve a lord.
*3 Gishi: a term describing a person with a strong sense of justice and fidelity to principle.
Basic Information about Sengakuji
The opening and closing hours of the temple’s gates are different for summer and winter days – from April 1st until September 30th, it is open from 7:00 until 18:00 and from October 1st until March 31st, it is open from 7:00 until 17:00.
As for the Ako Gishi Museum (The 47 Ako Ronin Museum), during the summer it is open from 9:00 until 16:30, and during the winter it is open from 9:00 until 16:00. The entrance admission to the temple grounds is free of charge.
However, there is an admission fee for entering the Ako Gishi Museum and the Ronin Statue Museum. The price includes the admission fee for both of the facilities and is 500 yen for adults, 400 yen for junior high school students and high school students, and 250 yen for children over the age of 10.
How to Get to Sengakuji
The nearest station to the Sengakuji is Sengakuji Station of the Toei Asakusa Line; it takes about one minute on foot to get to the temple from the station.
How to Get There from Tokyo Station
If you’re heading to Sengakuji from Tokyo Station, ride the Yamanote Line train bound for Shinagawa, then change trains at Shinbashi Station and ride the Toei Asakusa Line. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to arrive at Sengakuji Station, including the time needed for changing trains, and the fare is 320 yen.
How to Get There from Shinjuku Station
If your starting point is Shinjuku Station, ride the Toei Subway Oedo Line bound for Roppongi-Daimon, and change trains at Daimon Station to the Toei Asakusa Line bound for Asakusa. To get to Sengakuji Station, it will take around 25 minutes and cost 270 yen.