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47 samurai in Sengakuji temple

AUGUST 9, 2019 3 min. read
47 samurai in Sengakuji temple

Japanese culture is as strong as a magnet. The high-speed trains running on 500km/h on the magnetic rails form the extraordinary unity with the temples of 500 years old. History and future dances rhythmically in Japan. Millions of people come to the Land of the Rising Sun every year to witness this dance.

One of the most visited places in this country is located in Tokyo. Tokyo is a megacity. Residents and the tourists visiting the city make the mega chaos consisting of sounds and motion. Guests who want to hear the inner voice visit Shinagawa station in the south part of Tokyo.

After a 15-minute walk from this station, you will reach the Buddhist temple Sengakuji. There is a magical silence on the walls of this temple. You will forget all the hassle of the world while sitting on one of the benches nearby. The walls of the ancient temple, trees, and the spirit of history will embrace you. 

Sengakuji is not like other temples. There are tombs of 47 Samurai in the Akō-rōshi area of the temple. The Japanese call the samurai a ronin. Ronin is the word used to describe a leaderless samurai. Probably, you also have seen the ronin in the Hollywood movie starring with Keanu Reeves.

Let's go back 318 years ago. We should go to Edo Castle next to the temple. The story of Ōishi and his samurai, the love of all the Japanese people, begins in this castle.  In the Edo castle, Asano, the leader of Ōishi, lost his temper and attacked a nobleman named Kira with a dagger. He wounds Kira’s face. Asano's anger was not groundless. Kira repeatedly insulted him in front of his men and tried to discredit. Asano could restrain himself no longer and wanted to kill Kira who  had a higher rank.  According to the rules of the shogunate, no one in Edo Castle has the right to draw a sword to a state official. So, Asano had to kill himself by seppuku for his deed. His lands were confiscated from his family. And his 300 samurai were made a ronin. Sengakuji people were furious because of all these. Everyone condemns Kira. According to the Samurai internal code, Asano must be revenged, however, any Samurai who will take revenge will be executed according to the shogunate rules.

 Leaderless Sengakuji and 300 samurai became dispersed. Ōishi, the leader of the Samurai and 46 ronin banded together, swearing a secret oath to avenge their master.

On December 14, 1702, Kira was attacked by ronin at his mansion. Ōishi cut off his head and brought to Sengakuji together with his ronin. The Samurai were very happy. Asano's revenge was taken and his honour was restored. The Samurai could perform their duties again. Ōishi and his people waited a year and six months to eliminate Kira's suspicions so that they could take revenge.

The news of this incident was spread all over Japan.

According to shogunate rules, ronin who were supposed to be executed as the criminals were allowed to honourably commit seppuku. Ōishi and his men wrote the history.

Every year on December 14, thousands of people from different parts of the country go to the Akō-rōshi cemetery in the courtyard of the temple to commemorate 47 samurai.

The place where 47 samurai sleep is a combination of honour, dignity, loyalty and the sanctity of being a samurai. 

If you visit Tokyo in December, absolutely go to Shinagawa Station. Step into the temple which is a 15-minute walk from the station at 8 am in the morning. Sit down on the bench and give your soul a rest.

Then, buy 47 pieces of “Senko” sticks and burn them on the head of the samurai tombs. Senko smoke will make you feel weird. There is also a single-room museum in the temple. There are the armours and letters of Samurai in the room called Akogishi Kinenkan. You will have to pay 500 yen to enter the room.

The festival has a sweet end. Visitors of the temple are offered various sweets such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki.

Briefly, your day starts with tasting history and silence and ends with tasting sweets.

This article also ends.

But life continues on the mega streets of Tokyo.  


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