Zojoji Temple is located in the heart of Tokyo, not far from Tokyo Tower, one of the more iconic symbols of Tokyo. I have been meaning to go here for some time as I knew this had a mausoleum in which six Shoguns were buried. However, I almost didn’t make it as the mausoleum closed an hour earlier than the temple itself. As a result, I was able to enter for half price. The couple behind me also benefitted from that and then they officially stopped admitting anyone. As a result, there were only a few people with the cemetery grounds, which weren’t that big to begin with.
The temple and mausoleums were severely damaged during WWII, so what we see now are mostly reconstructions. What I liked about the various mausoleums here was that even though they were mostly identical, there were slight variations on each of them.
While there was a map explaining who was where, it was all in Japanese so not of very much use to me. The doors to the cemetery were quite elaborate as well and full of interesting details.
Another part of the temple complex is Garden for Unborn Children (known as Sentai Kosodate Jizo) and is full of hundreds of Jizō statues, Jizō being the guardian of unborn children. In fact, more than any other figure, you can find Jizō statues all over Japan, not just in cemeteries or temple grounds. That said, this isomer of the largest collections I’ve seen in any one place, and all of their colourful hats and bibs attracted most of the visitors who were at the temple. Many were quite individualized, wearing clothing from various sport teams or having specific toys. I suppose this is similar to “baby gardens” seen in US cemeteries, which are both colourful and sad at the same time.
Monuments: Standard mausoleum/tomb for the Shoguns, hundreds of Jizō statues elsewhere.
Grounds: Mostly flat, although it is up a slight hill. The nearby Shiba park has the original mausoleum gate and one of the Shōgun tombs.
Visitors: Many. This is near Tokyo Tower and is a major temple, so there were plenty of people.
Site: Zōjō-ji Temple (三縁山増上寺)
Notable Internments: Six of the Tokugawa Shoguns and some of their wives
Location: 4 Chome-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo 105-001. Hamamatsucho Station is nearby.
Hours: Temple grounds 09:00-17:00, mausoleum closes an hour earlier. Entrance fee to the mausoleum is 500 yen.