Koen Station lies on the
Toei Mita Line in the Shiba district
of Minato Ward of Tokyo.
in front of Exit A4 of the station
lies Shiba Park (Koen).
Park is one of the oldest parks
in Japan having been opened to the
public in 1873. The parkland is
ring-shaped with part of the grounds
being occupied by Zojoji Temple.
At one end of the park is an artificial
ravine called Momiji-dani
(autumn leaf valley).
From here a nice view of a 10 meter
high waterfall and a variety of
rocks and tall trees can be enjoyed.
One of the trees is a massive Japanese
zelkova tree, which is 20 meters
tall and has a trunk of circumference
2.5 meters. Shiba Park also features
the Maruyama burial mound
. This ancient 110 meter
long mound is one of the biggest
inside Shiba Park, Zojoji Temple
is the main temple of the Jodo sect
of Buddhism. Built in 1393, it was
moved to its present location in
1590 when Tokugawa Ieyasu moved
to Edo, the former name of Tokyo.
Zojoji Temple then became the family
temple of the Tokugawa family which
ruled Japan in the Edo era, and
is now home to the mausoleums of
six Tokugawa Shoguns and their family
main gate is the Sangedatsumon
. This 21 meter high gate
was constructed in 1605 in a contemporary
Chinese Tang Dynasty style, and
is the only remaining part of the
original temple. Just as you enter
the grounds from the Sangedatsumon
gate,on the right is Daibonsho
, a giant 15 ton bell cast
in 1673. The Main Building of the
temple is relatively new having
been reconstructed in 1974. Ankoku
Hall, on the other hand, is made
of wood and has a more traditional
touch. Inside this Hall is the Black
Amida , a statue that is
an image of a form of Buddha. This
image is kept in a cabinet that
is opened only three times a year
when a special service is held.
At the back of the temple is the
Tokugawa Cemetery ,
where six shoguns and their families
are buried. On the grounds leading
to the cemetery are rows of colorfully
clothed, bibbed, and decorated stone
Jizo , the bodhisattva
of children. According to Buddhist
belief (an adaptation unique to
Japan), the Jizo is the divinity
that is the guardian of unborn,
aborted, miscarried, and stillborn
babies; and also the patron saint
of expectant mothers and children.
For this reason, in Japan the bodhisattva,
or the statue of the Jizo, are in
the form of children, usually adorned
in red caps and bibs.