Wednesday, August 26, 2009

60. Temple Review: Tsukiji Honganji

The Tsukiji Honganji Temple dates back to 1617 when Junnyo Shonin, the 12th leader of the Jodo Shinshu Sect of Buddhism in Kyoto, established a branch temple in Edo (Tokyo). Known at that time as the 'Edo-Asakusa Gobo', the temple burned down in the Great Fire of 1657. Permission to rebuild in the same spot was denied by the feudal government. Instead, an area of the shoreline of Hatchobori was reclaimed from the sea by devout followers, many who lived on nearby Tsukudajima. The word Tsukiji means 'built up land', so the temple came to be called 'Tsukiji Gobo' and the district around it became known as Tsukiji.The temple was destroyed again in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and it was rebuilt from 1931 to 1934 with an Indian architectural motif designed by Chuta Itoh, a professor of Architecture at Tokyo University. It will be observing the 750th memorial service of its founder in 2012.

Although the building is large and impressive looking from the outside, the temple grounds themselves are just a huge paved parking lot. Anyone is welcome to go inside, but as the hall is filled with cheap theater seats, it is not terribly impressive. There are English brochures available near the front door, and they explain the history of the temple and the important artifacts stored there. Unless you happen to be walking down the street or visiting Tsukiji Fish Market, I would not go out of my way to visit this temple.
Monthly Dharma talks in English are held generally on the last Saturday from 5:30pm. There is more information on their website:
Morning and evening worship services (in Japanese) are held daily at 7:00am and 4:00pm. There are also special services throughout the year (New Years, Buddha's Birthday,...).
Address: 3-15-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku 104-8435, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3541-1131
Getting there: Hibiya Line to Tsukiji Station. Or, the Oedo Line to Tsukiji-shijo Station.