Friday, April 8, 2016

Renkoji Temple

On 2nd November 2015, I had some business at the Embassy of India in Tokyo. So hubby and I had been to Tokyo area from 1st to 3rd November last year. The business dealing at the embassy was only possible between 9 am to 11 am on 2nd November, so we decided to go to Tokyo the previous day and stayed overnight at a hotel. Since 1st November was a Sunday and 3rd November was Culture Day national holiday, hubby only had to take one day’s leave from his workplace that is on 2nd November. We traveled to Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train.


On early morning of 1st November 2015, hubby wrapped a pot containing a mango sapling with warm clothes at our home. He has grown the mango sapling in the pot by planting a seed of a mango that we had bought and eaten in the month of July 2015. The sapling was growing very well but it gets bitter cold during winter season in Akita prefecture, and so he was worried whether the sapling would survive the cold weather in our absence even if it was just for a few days. Therefore he did whatever he could, that is, wrapped the sapling pot with warm clothes. I felt that it was too cute and showed the kind side of hubby’s nature.
Hubby holding a pot containing mango sapling


We usually use flight to travel from Akita to Tokyo as the two places are very far apart and such long distance travel can be a bit tiring. However we could not reserve flight tickets, and therefore we traveled by train and it was so much fun. On the morning of 1st November 2015, we left our home in Yurihonjo City at about 10 am, and after about 50 minutes of car ride, we reached Akita Airport where we parked our car at a parking lot for three days. This is because it is extremely difficult to park cars for several consecutive days near Akita Railway Station area in Akita City. Afterwards we took a bus and reached Akita Station. We had lunch at a family style restaurant located near the railway station. It was so funny to see hubby having a piece of cake with chopsticks. I laughed so much seeing him dip French-fried potatoes into the sweetened whipped cream topping of the cake and relishing them. These are small funny memories that will remain etched in my mind for ever. Afterwards, we used Akita Shinkansen Komachi train to travel from Akita to Tokyo. The train started at about 3 pm and it took us about 4 hours to reach Tokyo Railway Station. The train travel was comfortable and fun. That night we stayed at a hotel located near the Embassy of India in Tokyo.
Hubby having a piece of cake with chopsticks at a restaurant located near Akita Station

Enjoying a cold drink after lunch at the restaurant

Hubby and I sitting inside Akita Shinkansen Komachi train on our way to Tokyo

Hubby reading a Japanese storybook inside the train


On the morning of 2nd November 2015, hubby and I went to the Embassy of India in Tokyo. My business at the embassy was finished by 11 am. We left the embassy and had an early lunch at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards we returned to the hotel where we stayed that night also. Since it was a working day in Japan, hubby had to deal with several job-related e-mails and write many electronic documents almost up to 9 pm even though he had taken official leave from his workplace that day. Well, that is Japan’s work culture. I just relaxed and watched several funny television programs the entire evening.
Hubby and I in our hotel room


On the morning of 3rd November 2015, we checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to Tokyo Railway Station. The taxi driver dropped us off on the east side (Yaesu side) of the station. We were very surprised to note that the Yaesu side of the station has undergone major renovation and is almost completely changed since we last visited Tokyo. We clicked a few photos of the Yaesu side of the station for the sake of memories.
Hubby standing in front of Yaesu central entrance on the east side of Tokyo Railway Station

Yaesu side of Tokyo Railway Station

Surprised and a bit confused hubby standing in front of the station


Next, we visited Renkoji Temple located in Suginami Ward of Tokyo. We stored our luggage inside a locker at Tokyo Railway Station, and then took Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line train to go up to Higashi Koenji subway station. The temple is located just 10 minutes walk from this subway station. There is a park named Sanshinomori located adjacent to the station, and we enjoyed a leisurely walk through this park towards the other end. The park filled with autumn foliage and colored leaves looked so wonderful. On reaching the other end of the park, we saw Renkoji Temple right in front of us.
Hubby walking inside Sanshinomori Park


Now I will briefly write about Renkoji Temple. It is a Buddhist temple located in Wada, Suginami-ku of Tokyo. It is a small well preserved temple that belongs to Nichiren Sect of Japanese Buddhism. The temple was founded in 1594 at Yanokura-cho in Ryogoku, which is the present day Higashi Ninhonbashi area in Chuo-ku, Tokyo. The temple was moved to Shinteramachi area of Asakusa in 1644, but was destroyed by a fire in 1806. It was relocated to the present location in 1915 due to town planning and land adjustment of Asakusa. The principal image of worship at the temple is Jikkai Shoson. In addition, Renkoji Temple is known to be the place where the purported ashes of the Indian Freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose are interred and preserved since 18th September 1945, and a bronze statue of him was erected inside the temple premises in 1975.


On reaching Renkoji Temple, we clicked a few photos of us standing in front of the entrance area of the temple. Afterwards, we walked around inside the temple premises and soaked in the wonderful quietness in the midst of hectic crowded Tokyo. In fact, the temple is really close to the hustle and bustle of a main road yet it was so serene inside the temple premises.
Hubby standing at the entrance area of Renkoji Temple

I am standing at the entrance area of the temple

Hubby standing next to a notice board located near the entrance area of the temple

I am standing inside the temple premises

Hubby standing inside the temple premises


In the temple premises, we saw a bronze bust statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. This statue was erected in 1975. As discussed earlier, his ashes are interred at this temple. Now I will briefly write about Bose who was affectionately called Netaji. Netaji was an Indian freedom fighter who fought against the British Occupation of India. He was very actively involved in India’s struggle for independence during mid 1920s-mid 1940s. During early 1940s, the British were involved in World War II, fighting for the Allies. The other side of the World War II involved Germany and Imperial Japan. So, it was natural for Netaji to fight the British with help from Japan. He negotiated with the government of Japan, and tried to march into India with Japanese army in the last period of the World War II. However, due to capitulation of Japan in the war, he tried to forge cooperation with the Soviet Union. For this purpose, he departed on an airplane from Saigon and after a few stops and refueling, the airplane made a two hour stopover at Taipei (then under Imperial Japan rule). However the airplane met with an accident and crashed during take off in Taipei and Netaji died on 18th August 1945. He was cremated and his ashes were placed in a box at Taipei. The ashes arrived in Japan in early September, and were then brought to this temple in Tokyo where a funeral ceremony was held at 8 pm on 18th September 1945. The head priest of the temple agreed to keep the ashes in safe custody till an appropriate recipient appeared to claim them. Even after more than seven decades, the ashes are still kept inside this temple premises. The temple holds an annual Buddhist memorial service for Netaji to observe his death anniversary on 18th August. There is controversy on the sudden and mysterious disappearance of Netaji and whether the ashes are really his, but several Indian politicians have visited the temple and paid their respects to Netaji. In addition, the Indian community and tourists also regularly visit this place. In the temple premises, we appreciated the bronze bust statue of Netaji for some time and then I bowed in front of it to pay my respect to the great freedom fighter of India.
A bronze bust statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the temple premises

Netaji and I

Hubby standing next to the bust of Netaji

Yet another photo of Netaji and hubby


To the left, behind the bronze statue of Netaji, we saw two black marble plaques engraved with the signs, details, and experiences of the Indian politicians who have paid visit to the temple. It is customary for Indian officials and politicians arriving in Japan to visit Renkoji Temple and offer prayers and pay their respects to Netaji. On one of the plaques, details about Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to the temple on 13th October 1957 are engraved. In fact, Nehru in his official capacity as the prime minister of India was the first dignitary to visit the temple. In addition, details about the then-President Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s visit to the temple on 14th October 1958 as well as the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s visit on 26th June 1969 are also engraved on the same plaque. The signatures of all the three dignitaries are also engraved on this plaque. On the other black marble plaque, details about the then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to the temple on 9th December 2001 are engraved. His message and his signature in Hindi script are beautifully engraved on this second plaque. In fact, Vajpayee had also visited the temple earlier during his term as a Minister of External Affairs in the late 1970s. In addition, the then-Minister of External Affairs, Jaswant Singh, visited the temple in November 2000 though it is not shown on the plaques. I loved viewing these two plaques and it made me very nostalgic about India. Right next to the bronze bust statue of Netaji, we saw a well maintained record diary notebook where visitors can sign in and pay their respects when visiting this temple. We also signed the notebook and left our message and the experience of our visit to the temple.
I am standing next to one of the black marble plaques engraved with the signs and details about the visit of Indian politicians to Renkoji Temple

One of the black marble plaques engraved with the signs and details about the visit of the dignitaries Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, and Indira Gandhi to this temple

Another black marble plaque engraved with the sign and details about the visit of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to this temple

Hubby writing a message in the record diary sign-in notebook


Next we moved further inside the temple premises, and saw the main hall building of the temple called Hondo. Hondo Main Hall is a wooden structure with elegant roof and ornamented entrance doors having golden colored carved chrysanthemum motif. The principal image of Jikkai Shoson is enshrined inside this hall. In addition, the ashes of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose are placed in a mini golden pagoda and kept inside this hall but are not open to the public. We appreciated the architecture of the building for some time. Then I climbed up several concrete steps and reached the porch in front of the entrance doors of the hall. However, this hall is usually always closed except on 18th August, the death anniversary of Netaji. So I could not enter inside the hall, and prayed for the well being and happiness of my family standing on the porch in front of the hall. After praying I looked around and saw a framed wooden tablet plaque with ‘Renkoji’ beautifully carved on it, hanging from the entrance door lintel of the hall.
Hubby posing in front of Hondo Main Hall

I am standing on the porch in front of the entrance doors of the hall

I am posing in front of the closed hall

A framed wooden tablet plaque with ‘Renkoji’ carved on it, hanging from the entrance door lintel of the hall


We saw two more interesting structures towards the northern end of the temple premises. The structure to our right side was Temizuya water fountain, which is used for ritual purification before entering and praying at the main hall. The structure to our left side was a stone statue of Jogyo Bosatsu. I prayed in front of the statue for pure conduct in life. In addition, towards the northwest corner of the temple premises, we saw a wooden hall building named Daikokuten-do. The ceiling and the doors of this hall has ornamented carvings. A statue of Daikokuten deity is enshrined inside the hall. It is said that Nichiren carved the statue in 1264 from a pine tree near the house where he was born, as an act of devotion to bring about his mother’s recovery from an illness. In the late 17th century of the Edo period, Renkoji Temple was located in Shinteramachi area of Asakusa. As the area developed, folk beliefs prospered and this statue of Daikokuten attracted the faith of the common people. It became an object of devotion to many people who lovingly called it as ‘Dobudana no Daikokuten’. Dobudana was the popular name for Shinteramachi. Daikokuten-do Hall is usually always closed, so we could not enter inside the hall to see the statue.
Temizuya (right) and statue of Jogyo Bosatsu (left)

I am praying in front of the stone statue of Jogyo Bosatsu

Daikokuten-do Hall


At this point, we finished the tour of Renkoji Temple. We left the temple premises and returned to Tokyo Railway Station. Afterwards we went to an electronics store named Yamada Denki located on the Yaesu east side of the station. It is a huge store with many floors. We did window shopping for about an hour or so. We saw an interesting robot named Pepper at each floor of the store. It is a humanoid robot and it was so much fun talking with the robot. We visited all the floors because hubby wanted to talk with each and every robot located at various floors. I compiled a video of hubby interacting with Pepper robot.
Pepper robot inside Yamada Denki store

Hubby interacting with Pepper robot

Hubby talking to another robot at a different floor of the store

A compiled video of hubby interacting with Pepper robot


We used Akita Shinkansen Komachi train to return to Akita. The train started from Tokyo Railway Station at about 2.30 pm and it took us about 4 hours to reach Akita Railway Station. Afterwards we took a bus and reached Akita Airport where we had parked our car for a few days. Finally after about an hour of car ride, we reached our home in Yurihonjo City. The first three days of November 2015 were hectic but enjoyable.
Hubby and I sitting inside Akita Shinkansen Komachi train on our way from Tokyo to Akita

Hubby sleeping peacefully inside the train

Hubby’s legs on our luggage kept in front of me inside the train

Hubby drinking a coffee beverage at Akita Airport before driving back home

6 comments:

Tips Clear said...

On reading your article, I felt like travelled with you people. Nice narration.

Yogi Saraswat said...

かわい おてら の しゃしん . well written post

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment 'Tips Clear'

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much Yogi Saraswat :)

Tomichan Matheikal said...

Very detailed. Good to know you through the blog.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment Tomichan Matheikal.