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Goin’ Japanesque!

Tsukiji Hongwanji: A Unique Temple Not Seen Elsewhere

The Tsukiji fish market is confirmed to relocate to Toyosu in November of 2016 (with the new name: Tukiji Uogashi). Even without the fish market, there is still reason to visit the Tsukiji area. Today, we introduce a unique temple, which makes “the reason” to visit Tsukiji. Photo: https://www.flickr.com

 

About Tsukiji Hongwanji

築地本願寺

In 1617, the temple was built as a branch temple of Kyoto’s Nishi Hongwanji. The temple has about 400 years of history. It has experienced 2 fires arising from the historical catastrophes of Great Fire in Meireki (1657) and the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) and now has the appearance it has today. In 2014, Tsukiji Hongwanji’s “Main Hall”, “Gateposts of the temple’s three gates (Main, North and South) and “Stone walls” were recognized as Important Cultural Properties of Japan, adding to the increased popularity of this tourist spot.

 

External Characteristics

1. Appearance that Does Not Look Like a Temple

Tsukiji-Hongan-ji2
https://www.flickr.com

One of the major characteristics of the Tsukiji Hongwanji is its external appearance. It is a stone made structure of an Indian style and it is not made of wood. There are even stained glass windows. This type of element is never seen on other Japanese temples.

2. Numerous Stone Animal Statues

Tsukiji-Hongan-ji3
https://www.flickr.com

There is a sphinx-like lion with wings on its back acting as a guardian dog 

Tsukiji-Hongan-ji4
https://www.flickr.com

There are other animal statues throughout the temple, such as birds, cows, horses, elephants. There are many that adorn not only on the outside but the interior as well.

 

Characteristics of the Interior

1. Traditional Japanese Structure of a Temple

Tsukiji-Hongan-ji5
https://www.flickr.com

While the exterior appearance does not evoke a sense of Japan, once entering the main hall, a view right out of a Japanese temple jumps into your eyes. However, there are no tatami-mats on the floor as a standard temple would have. Instead, there are chairs.

2. Pipe Organ

Tsukiji-Hongan-ji6
http://www.arukikata.co.jp/

One tends to focus on the amazing sight ahead and center, but if you look in the back, there is a large pipe organ that is full of presence. On the ceilings there is even a chandelier. It is a very unique atmosphere that blends eastern, western and Japanese cultures. Just to make sure, we say once again that this is not a church but a temple.

Additionally, on the last Friday of every month, there is a free lunch-time pipe organ concert offered from 12:20 to 12:50.  The sound flows from 2,000 pipes and echoes as if you are showered with the sounds from above.

 

Various Events

Tsukiji-Hongan-bon-odori
Bon Dance Festival, https://www.flickr.com

The highlight of the Tsukiji Honganji is not only its main hall. On their premises they hold various events depending on the season. Of such events, the Bon Dance Festival held in early August is very lively and you should be able to enjoy the festivities of matsuri (festival). You can dance around the yagura (wooden structure) or get a taste of good eats from the vendors. This indeed is the seasonal tradition of summer. There are also other events like the Hana matsuri (flower festival) in early April which is also recommended.

 

Restaurants in the Vicinity

tsukiji-donburi-ichiba
http://tsukiji-monzeki.com/

This is Tsukiji you’re in. Don’t forget the fresh seafood you can enjoy here. You won’t even have to look very far; just walking along the streets there are many intriguing restaurants, we would love for you to try them out. Information: Map

 

So as you see, the Tsukiji Hongwanji is a very distinctive temple and also a very popular sightseeing spot for visitors from overseas. If you hadn’t heard of this place before, Tsukiji is well worth going even after the Tsukiji fish market is no longer there.

Related: Tsukiji Shishi Festival 2015: A Traditional Mikoshi Festival Overflowing with Kindness

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