Sengaku-ji (泉岳寺) is a Sōtō Zen Buddhist temple located in Minato-ku, Tōkyō, close to Sengakuji Station on Toei Asakusa Line and Shinagawa Station. The temple is famous because of its association with the Akō-gishi (the Forty-Seven Rōnin) who rest in the temple precinct along with their master Asano Naganori.
The two main temples of Sōtō Zen Buddhism are Eihei-ji in Fukui Prefecture and Sōji-ji in Tsurumi, Yokohama. In 1612, Sengaku-ji was constructed near Edo Castle under Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was destroyed in the Okemachi Fire of 1641 and rebuilt by shōgun Tokugawa Iemitsu in the Takanawa district of Edo (former Tōkyō).
Nowadays mostly related to the story of the Forty-Seven Rōnin (please read the story of the Akō-gishi here), Sengaku-ji was one of the three principal temples of Edo and a famous Buddhist institution where sometimes up to 200 monks lived and studied. This tradition continues to this day, though the number of apprentices is significantly lower.
The nameplate on the main (third) gate rebuilt in 1832 and reading "Sengakuji" from right to left.
A statue of Oishi Kuranosuke Yoshitaka, the chief retainer of Asano Naganori. He planned the attack on Kira's residence. The statue was erected in 1921 and holds a scroll listing the names of the 47 rōnin.
The hondō (本堂), the main hall of the temple, was destroyed in World War II and reconstructed in 1953.
A statue of Kōdō Sawaki (沢木 興道, 1880-1965), an eminent Sōtō Zen teacher, known as "Homeless Kōdō", referring to the fact that - contrary to tradition - he had never become an abbot of a temple. He emphasised the importance of zazen (seated meditation) and popularised Buddhist practices in daily life.
The Akōgishi Memorial Hall (Akōgishi Kinenkan) holds a collection of artefacts and historical records. A video presentation explains the Akō Incident in English and Japanese.
The gate to the Akōgishi's graves was originally located at the Asano residence in Edo but was moved to its present location in the Meiji Period.
The kubi-arai well: after the 47 rōnin had avenged their master by killing Kira, they severed his head and presented it to Asano's grave. Before they did so, they washed the decapitated head at this well.
The graves of the Akōgishi form four blocks next to the grave of their master, according to the residences where they had been accommodated (Hosokawa, Matsudaira, Mori, and Mizuno).
The grave of Asano Naganori who was forced to commit seppuku on the same day he had assaulted Kira Kozukenosuke in Edo Castle.
The grave of Asano's chief retainer, Oishi Kuranosuke Yoshitaka.
Chizome, the blood-stained plum tree and stone. Legend has it that when Asano Naganori committed seppuku in the garden of Tamura Ukyodayu's residence, his blood gushed out and stained the tree and the stone which were later installed at Sengakuji.
More photos in the Sengakuji album.
- ABOUT SENGAKUJI｜SENGAKUJI（曹洞宗 江戸三ヶ寺 萬松山 泉岳寺）
- Soto Zen Buddhism Sojiji Head Monastery
- SENGAKUJI TEMPLE AND THE AKOU INCIDENT – Sanpai Japan
- The Forty-Seven Ronin | Japan Forum
2 Chome-11-1 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 108-0074
By train: a 3-minute walk from Sengakuji Station (on Asakusa Line or Keikyu Line); a 15-minute walk from Shinagawa Station.
Shrine: 7:00-18:00 (April-September), 7:00-17:00 (October-March)
Akogishi Kinenkan: 9:00-16:30 (April-September), 9:00-16:00 (October-March); admission: 500 JPY