[Tokyo] A walk through Monzen-nakacho starts with a visit to a shrine or temple.

[Tokyo] A walk through Monzen-nakacho starts with a visit to a shrine or temple.


A walker's guide to Monzen-nakacho, an historic downtown area of Tokyo

As the name indicates, Monzen-nakacho flourished as a town at the front gates of Tomioka Hachiman Shrine and Fukagawa Fudo-do Temple. When you walk through the town, you will see lots of old established shops selling sweets, Fukagawa rice dishes, eel dishes, and so on that cater to worshippers coming to these shrines and temples and still look like they did back in the days when Tokyo was called Edo.
In contrast to the old historic downtown atmosphere, you will also see many people of the younger generation coming here in recent years. In old buildings that once housed makers of amazaké (a sweet fermented rice drink) you will find cafés specializing in good coffee, and on the benches along these streets of shops you will see members of the older generation who came to pray at the shrines and temples and are now taking a break. And next to them are parents and their kids who live in this town and are enjoying a day out.
Let's take a walk through this town where the young and elderly mingle in the midst of the old and new.

[Tokyo] A walk through Monzen-nakacho starts with a visit to a shrine or temple.

Let's first go to Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa and start with a slightly belated prayer for the New Year.

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine
At Hachiman-sama (the "revered Hachiman deity") in Fukagawa you can see a glimpse of Monzen-nakacho's history.

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine was established in the early Edo period (17th century) and became familiar to the people as "Fukagawa no Hachiman-sama" (Hachiman-sama of Fukagawa). Within the grounds of the shrine you can see the Gohonden (Main Hall) and some Massha (subordinate shrines) that are also enshrined, as well as the various wishes of many visitors. Since this was also where the Sumo sport started, you will see a stone monument in which the names of all the Yokozuna and Ozeki wrestlers over history have been engraved, and a gorgeous Gohonsha palanquin used in the Fukagawa Hachiman Festival is also on display. A walk around the grounds of the shrine will give you a taste of Fukagawa's history.

An Ema (votive tablet) of the Edo Kanjin Sumo, ¥1500

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine

1-20-3 Tomioka, Koto-ku
Tel: 03-3642-1315

Fukagawa Fudo-do Temple, Tokyo branch of the Narita-san temple in Narita, Chiba
Bad luck is swept away by burning cedar sticks while listening to sutra chants and Wadaiko drums.

When you go out Exit 1 from Monzen-nakacho Station, you'll see Fukagawa Fudo-do Temple at the end of the street of shops. Then when you cleanse yourself by pouring water onto your hands amidst the smoke of the burning incense and enter the old Hondo (Main Hall), you'll see the "Onegai Fudoson" (a Buddhist Fudo image where people make wishes). The daily ritual of burning incense with the sound of sutra chanting and Wako drums is an extremely uplifting experience. Be sure not to miss the "Hatsu Fudo" incense praying event on January 28, which is said to make more of your wishes come true.

Migawari Mamori (Scapegoat charm) ¥500

Fukagawa Fudo-do Temple

1-17-13 Tomioka, Koto-ku

Fukagawa Enma-do Temple
The teachings of Enma-sama strengthen your New Year's resolutions.

Fukagawa Enma-do Temple, adjacent to Fukagawa Hojo-in Temple, is one of the three Enmas of Edo. Inside the building, red-faced Enma sits holding a scepter, and when you make a monetary offering along with your wish, he speaks and makes you feel grateful. Listen carefully to his teachings and try making it a good lesson for the new year. Then on your way back, you might like to get a splendid scarlet seal at the temple office.

Fukagawa Enma-do Temple

2-16-3 Fukagawa, Koto-ku
Tel: 03-3641-1652

Source: metropolitana