Jizo in the sky of Tokyo

January 30, 2015 Juju Kurihara 1 Comment

One early summer day, I was walking down one of the main streets of Ginza in Tokyo to go to my favourite stationery shop. On the corner, there is Mitsukoshi Department Store where there were many people using as a meeting point.

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Usually I pass by quickly but that day I stopped to see a sign, which I had never realised it was there.

It said "Ginza Shusse Jizouzon (銀座出世地蔵尊)". I couldn´t imagine a jizo in a department store, especially in the right middle of Ginza and suddenly I was curious. So I went inside. 






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The sign led me to the rooftop. It was a nice sunny day and still wasn´t too hot. Many people were having drinks on the deck of a rooftop café and some with children were on the grass. 

It was strange to go up there. Although there are not too tall buildings in Ginza, still you are surrounded by buildings, which cut the sky in the narrow rectangle shape. 

But there, you only see the top of the buildings, most of them with the company names that look like heads of robots. Above your head, there was nothing but the sky. I almost forgot I was in one of the most popular shopping areas in Tokyo. Is it really there is a jizo in the sky of Tokyo?


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On the right side of the roof, I found a sign, "三囲神社 (Mimeguri Jinja)".

Actually this was my first time I came up to the top floor and I was surprised there was such a small green patch and a jinja. 





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This is the 摂社 (Sessha) of Mimeguri Jinja. Sessha is a small jinja which is built inside the precinct of a jinja or outside. In other word, it´s a branch jinja. 

In Edo period (江戸時代/ 1063-1868), there was a river running through in the middle of Ginza. It was an artificial river and its width was 30 ken (30間/ 55m), therefore it was called Sanjikken Horikawa (三十間堀川). Along side of this river, there were many shops even in the nights and it was a very lively streets, just like now.

The river was buried after the WWII in order to clean the debris from the war, they threw them in the river and by 1949, it was completely disappeared. 




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This Shusse Jizo was found from Sanjikken Horigawa in the early Meiji period (明治時代/ 1868-1912). A local steeplejack placed it in an open space and people started to visit the jizo. 

After a while, people began to worship this jizo for good luck, success, long life and prosperity in business. 

In 1968, Shusse Jizo was mo ved to the rooftop of Ginza Mitsukoshi. 



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It´s actually quite a big Jizo. It must´ve been hard to dig out this in Edo period and to bring this up to the rooftop in the 60s. I could see how important this jizo was and is to the people. When I was there, there was no one came to visit but still, this jizo has been worshipped by the local people during long time. 

In the countryside, you often see jizo on the street but they are not abandoned. There are always the sign of someone looks after them. Now Tokyo is a massive city but it doesn´t mean people have lost their respect to jizo including Shusse Jizo in Ginza. 

Another story about Jizo in Japan.





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1 Comment

  1. Sweet little article – thanks! Such a tender feeling…
    Love the explanation of 摂社 (Sessha) a small jinja which is built inside the precinct of a jinja or outside, a branch jinja.
    and also the details about the river width of 30 ken (30間/ 55m), and therefore the name Sanjikken Horikawa (三十間堀川)

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