Tokyobling's Blog

Shibamata Taishakuten

Posted in Places by tokyobling on August 27, 2015

Founded in 1629, the temple of Shibamata Taishakuten dedicated to the teachings of the Buddhist sage Nichiren is one of the most famous, and at the same time, least visited buddhist temples in Tokyo. The temple has always been very popular with local people but it rose considerably in fame in the during the great Tenmei Famine of 1782-1788 when due to abnormally cold weather (possibly made worse by the massive volcanic eruption in Iceland in 1783 and the two huge volcanic eruptions in Japan the same year, Mount Iwaki and Mount Asama) the rice crop failed for several years in a row. Between 20 and 200 thousand people are said to have died in the famine, and the total population in Japan fell by over 4% from 1780 to 1792, to less than 26 million. It is said that members of this temple parish and the people who prayed here did not suffer as badly from the famine and the temple skyrocketed in popularity.

The next time the temple was to become famous was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the temple precinct served as the backdrop for the hugely successful Tora-san series of romantic comedy-drama. Tourists arrived by the busloads, and they only declined in number in the late 1990s after the last Tora-san movie was released in 1995. Certainly I saw much fewer tourists in 2015 than on my first visit in 2005.

The first photo is of the famous Nitenmon, the main gate to the temple yard, where you will find the main temple building constructed from roughly 1915-1929. The temple is also famous for it holy water spring, dedicated to the Goddess of the White Snake. It is popular with worshipers to place small statues of white snakes near the spring. The snakes are paired up, representing husband and wife, together protecting the fount of wealth! More photos to come!









3 Responses

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  1. Kay Catchlove said, on August 27, 2015 at 7:39 am

    I am so glad you have brought this place to my attention. It’s now on my “to visit” list when I’m in Tokyo in October. I love getting your posts every weekday and discovering places and festivals I would not know about otherwise. Arigatou gozaimasu.


  2. Mustang.Koji said, on August 27, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Nice bakground info on the temple…and great photography. Loved the closeup of what appears to be children?


  3. Mustang.Koji said, on August 27, 2015 at 7:45 am

    BTW, Japan wasn’t able to produce enough rice on its own to feed her people until just before the Olympics… 🙂


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