Serialization about Ueno Park-02 Ueno Toshogu shrine and lanterns (上野公園シリーズ-02 上野東照宮と燈籠)

Ueno Toshogu Shrine was erected within Toeizan Kan’ei-ji Temple grounds by Takatora Todo and Tenkai Sojo in 1627. Takatora Todo, the lord of Tsu domain, Ise Province, was known as a master of castle construction and was engaged in the reconstruction of Edo-jo Castle. And Tenkai Sojo, the high priest of the Tendai sect, opened Kan’ei-ji temple in 1625 on Ueno Mountain and was famous as the brains of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. In 1646 it was given the Gu go title of ‘Toushogu.’ The main shrine of the current Ueno Toshogu Shrine was rebuilt by the third Shogun Iemitsu TOKUGAWA in 1651.

Toshogu is a shrine dedicated to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA (Tosho Daigongen) as a deity. There are many Toshogus all over Japan, including Nikko and Kunouzan. When Ueno Toshogu was rebuilt by Iemitsu, it is said that it was rebuilt gorgeously like Nikko Toshogu for the people in Edo who couldn’t go to Nikko to worship easily because it was far from Edo. The main building, the Karamon Gate, and the Sukibei Wall are very gorgeous, shining with gold, and are designated as National Important Cultural Properties. In addition to Ieyasu, the 8th Shogun, Yoshimune TOKUGAWA, and the 15th and final Shogun, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA, are also enshrined at Ueno Toshogu.

About 250 lanterns were dedicated by the Daimyos (feudal lords) from all over the country for this rebuilding. The lanterns are not used for illumination purposes, but are used for purification at Shinto Rituals. There are 195 stone lanterns lining the side of the main approach. The 50 copper lanterns on the approach near the Karamon Gate have been designated as National Important Cultural Properties.

Needless to say, I was impressed by the magnificence of the gilded Karamon gate, but I was overwhelmed by the size and number of lanterns lined up along the approach. I was once again impressed to learn how Ieyasu was revered by many feudal lords and was an object of faith for the people of Edo.