Shoin Jinja (Tokyo) UC
Address: 4-35-1 Wakabayashi, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0023
Tel/Information: 03-3421-4834. Open from 9am to 4:30pm. Website in English: eng.shoinjinja.org.
How to get there: Tokyu Setagaya Line to Shoin Jinja-mae or Wakabayashi Station, then 3 minutes by foot.
Enshrined kami: Yoshida Shoin (sensei).
Prayers offered: Success in studies.
|Reproduction of the famous Shoka Sonjuku|
As you enter the grounds, the sando takes you diagonally past the unexceptional mikoshi-ko on the right which houses the shrines mikoshi. Just beyond this on the left is the kaguraden donated to the shrine by the Mori family in 1932. Taking a path that branches off to the left, you arrive at one of the more unusual parts of this or any shrine; a graveyard. Shinto generally views contact with death as a sort of pollution and very few shrine grounds contain graves or grave stones. Of course, there are exceptions. Most notably perhaps is that of Yoshida Kanetomo (no relation to the Yoshida enshrined here), the founder of Yoshida Shinto, who is interred on the grounds of Yoshida Jinja in Kyoto, with a shrine built above the tomb where he is worshipped as a kami. In fact, Yoshida Shinto tried—unsuccessfully—to reclaim the burial ceremony from Buddhism which had always performed rites for the dead. But here, we have an entire graveyard with around twenty tombstones. These are all men related to Yoshida Shoin or to the early fight to overthrow the Tokugawa and restore the emperor to power. Men such as Nakatani Masasuke and Fukuhara Otonoshin who were students of Yoshida at the famous Shoka Sonjuku school in Hagi. It is also said that such illustrious figures as Ito Hirobumi and Takasugi Shinsaku are "reburied" here but I have yet to confirm the circumstances of their reburial. Nevertheless, the tombs clearly show that Shoin Jinja is a monument to the revolutionary spirit of those men who brought about the modern era in Japan.
One more building of some importance here is a reproduction of the Shoka Sonjuku school, located at the right side of the shrine. This one-story, two-room structure is based on the original that is currently located on the grounds of the other major Shoin Jinja in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture. For several years from 1857, Yoshida lived and taught in the school that was begun by his uncle in 1842.
Although not part of the shrine, the Wakabayashi Park next door is worth a quick peek. It is a small (3.5 acres) but very unusual space in that it is basically a forest of tall red pines, many of them leaning precariously toward the left (from the direction of the entrance).
|Grave markers at Shin Jinja |
(Yoshida Torajiro a.k.a. Shoin in the center
left to right: Fukuhara Otonoshin, Kuruhara Ryozou,
Yoshida, Kobayashi Yoshisuke, Raimiki Saburo)
|Shoin Jinja about 100 years ago|
Festivals: Ishin Matsuri (Bakumatsu Festival), 22 to 23 October (dates vary each year). Features the shrines mikoshi and a parade of people in period costume.