As you walk through the streets of Yanaka you will see many temples sitting between residential homes and small shops. Take time to explore, take pictures, and have a snack at a small local restaurant or café. Many fun little places can be found in this area that developed as a temple town.
Walking to Zenshoan Temple
Zenshoan is one of the temples located on Sansaki-zaka. This is the slope that leads from Sendagi Station through Yanaka up towards Yanaka Cemetery. Make sure to visit Zenshoan Temple here if you are in Yanaka in August.
From the JR Nippori Station take the West exit towards Yanaka and turn left on the street that passes the Asakusa Museum of Sculpture. Continuing on this street you will see several temples on your way to Sansaki-zaka. Turn right on Sansaki-zaka and walk down the slope to Zenshoan past a café and store full of “manikineko” lucky cats.
See the temple’s collection of Yureiga ghost pictures in August
The grave of Japanese author and “rakugo” storyteller Sanyutei Encho (1839-1900) is at Zenshoan. Encho was famous for telling ghost stories and his ghost story “Botan-doro” (Peony Lantern) is set in Yanaka. It is a very popular story based on a Chinese legend that has been adapted many times and made into Kabuki plays and movies.
Ghost references can also be found in literature, manga, anime, games, and paintings. Encho collected “yurei-ga” scrolls. These old paintings are chilling pictures of different kinds of Japanese ghosts. The pictures are now part of Zenshoan’s collection. Every year in August the ghost pictures are on display at the temple.
Telling ghost stories is a Japanese summer tradition supposed to make you feel cold. Ghosts are called “yurei” in Japanese. They are souls that have stayed to wander our world after bad feelings or regrets keep them here after death. See if some the old ghosts that inspired Encho can make you shiver on a hot day.
Yureiga Exhibition at Zenshoan
The collection is on display each year throughout the month of August
Date & Time: August 1 to 31 from 10:00 to 17:00 (last admission at 16:30)
Entrance fee: 500 yen