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“Values to pass along and teach”
Review of Sengaku-ji Temple

Sengaku-ji Temple
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$115.25*
and up
Private Custom Tour: Tokyo in a Day
Ranked #11 of 482 things to do in Minato
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 5, 2011

The Sengakuji Temple grounds is the final resting place of the 47 loyal ronin, one of the most famous stories in Japan. In 1701, a clan chief was force to commit ritual suicide, seppuku, after losing his temper with another clan chief in court. All of his retainers became ronin or masterless samurai when he died. Samurai are bound by duty and loyalty so losing ones master is the worst thing that can happen to a samurai. The 47 ronin planned their revenge for two years and eventually killed and beheaded the offending clan chief. Their loyalty to their own clan and dead chief was considered historic and they are revered in all Japan. Sengakuji is the temple that they journeyed to with the head of the other clan chief and it is also where their 47 graves are located. Their clan chief is also buried there.
The Sengakuji temple itself is not very remarkable in appearance. It is a medium sized wooden structure that looks like many other temples in Japan. To the left of the grounds entrance is a pathway that leads to the burial area. We passed by a small structure with a small fire burning in front and a man watched us as we passed. Walking up more steps and ramps and we arrived at the graves of the 47 ronin. The gravestones are cut rock with inscriptions carved into each and a small stone basin and a stone platform for incense to be placed. The grave area is about 15 feet on each side and the grave stones are placed 10 on three sides, six on the last side and two rows of five and six stones in the middle.
My son did not understand the meaning of the gravesite when we arrived and I had to tell him to speak softly to show respect. He looked around at the faces of the other visitors there and he understood. The gravesite of the 47 ronin is holy to some. We went back to the little shack and we paid the man there for a bundle of incense sticks. My son went to each grave one by one and placed a single incense stick in front of each gravestone then put his hands together and bowed. One by one, forty-seven times he did this in front of each grave. In the years to come, he’ll hear the story of the 47 ronin again. When he does he will remember the graves, he can reflect on showing each long dead samurai the respect they deserved, he will remember being there to see where these men are buried.
There were other people there presenting incense to the graves, most were men who were there alone. I looked at one of these men as he finished his last prayer to the 47. He was younger than me by a few years, sturdy looking fellow. He looked up into the void of the sky and I noted tears in his eyes. I wondered about this man, offering prayers to those long dead. Showing respect for ideologies of past generations and revering those who held them sacred. These are the ideals that I hope to pass along to my son.

25  Thank NeoJava3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 30, 2011

I had been to Tokyo a number of times but had never visited this temple before. It was relatively easy to find and is a short walk from the Sengakuji subway or a bit further from Shinagawa station. This temple houses the graves of the 47 Ronin who avenged their master. I have seen a number of movies about this real life story that happened in the 18th century. This was at a time when samurai were becoming less and less needed as soldiers so for this group to do this it brought back meaning of duty and honor at that time and gave these men respect. This place continues to be an attraction today and a reminder of this spirit. The “law” at the time required the men to commit seppuku for doing this deed. At the temple there is a small museum with a video that tells the story in a number of languages. The grave markers are there as is the head washing well where the avenged enemy’s master head was cleaned. In the adjacent upper museum, there are depictions of the 47 ronin in mannequin dress that are said to be close to the appearance of the men. You can purchase incense and place them at each of the graves to show respect.

7  Thank 206jazz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Wilmington, North Carolina
111
Reviewed April 24, 2005

As a true lover of Japanese History, I lived in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture in 2003. I visited Sekigahara numerous times, went to Kyoto as well. But one of the biggies that I absolutely had to visit was the Sengakuji in Tokyo. It was the ONLY reason I wanted to go to Tokyo.
There aren't a lot of things to see in this general vicinity apart from this temple, but if you know the history and think that THIS IS THE PLACE where these men are buried, it is truly an amazing experience. Just outside of the cemetery is a small museum which shows a re-enactment/biography film of the events leading up to and after the event. I was the only one watching it, and it was in Japanese. However, a lady working there, presuming I couldn't speak the language, came in and changed the setting for "English". There are also screens, paintings, armor and what-not on display as well.
At the cemetery itself you can spend a few yen to buy a bundle of incense sticks and place them at the graves of Asano, Asano's wife, Oishi, and the other ronin to pay your respects to each and every one. This is a place you cannot miss if you are a student of Japanese History.

11  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
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Thank yasumaro555
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Reviewed 5 days ago via mobile
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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