Tokyobling's Blog

Benkei Kagami Well – Ueno

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on September 23, 2015

In Ueno, just near the the famous pond and the zoo, next to one of the gates belonging to Tokyo University you will find the tiny Sakaiinari Shrine (境稲荷神社), and right behind it the tiny ancient well of Benkei Kagami (弁慶鏡ケ井戸). The well, which has been famous for its sweet and clear water has been around for as long as anyone can remember, and it was certainly there before the Shrine, whose beginnings are lost to history, but which was already established in this spot in the late 15th century. The shrine has its name Sakai (meaning border) for being in the middle of the the border between two old towns or villages. It was built over in the 19th century but dug out again in 1940. The revival of the old well turned out to be a very good thing, as its water helped save the lives of many people who lived in the area during the intense bombing raids of 1945. One of the most famous people said to have been saved by the well’s water was the famous painter Yokoyama Taikan (横山大観).

Unfortunately, few natural spring wells can survive the infrastructure of a modern city and today the water is labeled as not for drinking, although you can still draw it, by the Sun Tiger hand pump installed near the old well head.

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3 Responses

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  1. I. J. Khanewala said, on September 23, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Do many shrines have their own wells?

    Like

  2. Junko said, on September 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    How sad the water isn’t potable when it’s even labeled as “meisui.” What do the people do with it?

    Like

  3. rudyhou said, on November 2, 2015 at 7:09 am

    i have not seen that sort of water pump for a very long time. not even here in my home city.

    Like


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