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Matsuchiyama Shoden: Tokyo's Serene Sanctuary with a 1,400-Year Legacy



2023.09.28 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, inbound tourism advisor and consultant, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

Nestled away from the bustling streets of Tokyo, Matsuchiyama Syoden, a branch temple of Sensoji, offers a serene escape for those seeking a moment of tranquility amidst the city's hustle and bustle. Officially known as Honryuin, with a history spanning over 1,400 years, this sacred sanctuary is conveniently situated just a 15-minute walk northeast of the Kaminarimon gate of Senso-ji Temple. Unlike the crowded main temple, Matsuchiyama Shoden boasts an ambiance of calm, with refreshing river breezes drifting in from the nearby Sumida River. It is said that if you come to the temple, you will be blessed with good health, prosperous business, and fertility, all of which are embodied in the daikon radish and the kinpu (cloth) crest found throughout the temple grounds. The daikon radish symbolizes physical health and marital harmony, while the kinpu crest represents prosperity.
During the Edo Period, Matsuchiyama was celebrated as a picturesque destination, attracting artists and poets who immortalized its beauty in ukiyo-e prints. It was a place of solace for commoners who sought blessings for themselves and their families, further solidifying its significance in Edo's cultural landscape.
One of the most sacred rituals at Matsuchiyama Shoden is the Yokuyu, or oil-bathing ceremony, dedicated to Kangi-Ten. This ritual, performed daily, seeks to fulfill the wishes of believers promptly. Participants who engage in this practice for seven consecutive days are bestowed with an amulet relic, signifying the sanctity of their devotion.
For those with mobility challenges, the Sakura Rail offers a convenient connection between the parking lot and the main hall of Matsuchiyama. It holds the distinction of being the shortest monorail in Japan, in operation since 2012, catering primarily to individuals with disabilities.
Matsuchiyama Shoden stands as a testament to the enduring spiritual heritage of Tokyo. Amidst the urban chaos, this temple offers a haven of peace and a chance to connect with centuries of tradition. A visit to Matsuchiyama Shoden is not only a journey through history but also an opportunity for personal reflection and renewal. The main hall is perched atop a small hill, accessible by a convenient monorail for visitors who may have difficulty with the ascent. Visitors are encouraged not only to explore Senso-ji Temple but also to take the time to uncover the hidden treasures of Matsuchiyama Shoden.

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