Just another lazy day of wandering about Shitamachi. This time it’s Gokokuji, which of all Tokyo’s most important temples is the closest to me. I took the 25-minute walk up there today and snapped some more pics (along with a few at a small but picturesque temple I stumbled upon along the way) as a service was taking place inside. When the weather is like this – about 10 degrees Celsius with no rain – it feels like you could walk and walk all day. Winters in Tokyo can occasionally get nasty, but most of the time they’re rather pleasant really.
Gokokuji is notable for being one of the relatively few major Edo temples to survive WW II unscathed, as well as being the temple in charge of tea ceremony for all Buddhist temples in Japan. It was founded by the fifth Shogun Tsunayoshi (the “Dog Shogun” was was eventually murdered by his wife) in honor of his mother. Most of the building – including the Hondo – were built in the 17th Century and survive today, though there is one Momoyama period hall built around 1600 that was moved to Gokokuji, the Gekkoden. It’s a really lovely place – one of the prettiest temple complexes in Tokyo.
Gokokuji is also notable (to me) for being, like so many temples and shrines, filled with cats. I really think there’s something deep in this connection between these places and the cat – an appreciation for all creatures, for one, and also some kind of admiration for the cat’s seeming ability to achieve complete relaxation and inner calm.