Kaneiji Temple

Kaneiji Temple: The Last Stand of the Shogun’s Troops


Kaneiji Temple, located in a residential neighborhood on the outer edge of Ueno Park in Tokyo, may appear inconspicuous with only a few remaining buildings in its complex. However, this Buddhist temple holds great historical significance and played a pivotal role in the history of japan. From its association with the Tokugawa clan and the burial ground for six shoguns to its involvement in the decisive battle between the forces of the last shogun and the revolutionary troops loyal to the Emperor, Kaneiji Temple is a testament to Japan’s rich past.

Quick Facts

One of the notable aspects of Kaneiji Temple is its graveyard, where six out of the thirteen Tokugawa clan members who became shoguns are buried. This highlights the temple’s close association with the ruling clan and its importance as a funeral temple for the Tokugawa leaders.

Another prominent feature of Kaneiji Temple is the five-story pagoda located near Shinobazu Pond. This pagoda adds to the temple’s architectural beauty and serves as a symbol of spiritual enlightenment.

How to Get There

To visit Kaneiji Temple, one can easily reach it by train or taxi. The temple is located just outside Ueno Park, which is accessible by walking through the park. However, for those looking for a more convenient option, Uguisudani Station, one stop away from Ueno Station on the JR Yamanote Line, is much closer to the temple.

The Way Things Were

Originally, the entire Ueno Park was part of Kaneiji Temple. The temple, built in 1625, was centered around Shinobazu Pond, where the Kiyomizu Kannondo and the five-story pagoda still stand today. The land for the temple was donated by Tokugawa Hidetaka, the third son of Ieyasu and the second shogun, demonstrating the Tokugawa clan’s support for the temple from its inception. Kaneiji Temple also served as a significant funeral temple, which is why it became the resting place for six Tokugawa clan leaders.

The Critical Historical Event

However, it was in 1868 that Kaneiji Temple witnessed its most critical historical event. It was here that the forces of the last Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, made their last stand against the revolutionary forces loyal to the Emperor. This battle marked the end of the shogunate and the beginning of a new era in Japan’s history. The revolutionary troops, led by influential samurai Saigo Takamori, launched a fierce attack on the main gate of the temple, resulting in heavy casualties. Despite the losses, this bold move by the Satsuma troops helped bring a swift end to the conflict.

One of Japan’s Most Influential Samurai

Saigo Takamori, a prominent figure in Japanese history, played a significant role in the Battle of Ueno. As the leader of the Satsuma clan, he was one of the key supporters of the Emperor’s forces. Saigo’s bronze statue, located near the main entrance of Ueno Park, stands as a tribute to his bravery and leadership. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought for the restoration of imperial rule.

Recommended Route

For visitors interested in exploring Kaneiji Temple and its surroundings, a suggested route is to begin at the temple grounds and walk through Ueno Park via Shinobazu Pond. Along this route, one can admire the Kiyomizu Kannondo and the five-story pagoda, located within Ueno Zoo. Finally, the route concludes with a visit to the statue of Saigo Takamori, located at the opposite end of Ueno Park from Kaneiji Temple.

In conclusion, Kaneiji Temple may appear unassuming at first glance, but its historical significance and role in Japan’s history make it a must-visit site for those interested in exploring the country’s rich cultural heritage. From its association with the Tokugawa clan and the burial ground for shoguns to its involvement in the decisive battle between the forces of the last shogun and the revolutionary troops, Kaneiji Temple stands as a testament to the turbulent times that shaped Japan’s past. So, take a step back in time and immerse yourself in the history and spirituality that Kaneiji Temple has to offer.

Address And Maps Location:

1-14-11 Uenosakuragi, Taito-ku, Tokyo-to

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