Toshogu Shrine

(Above:) Temple Toshogu of Ueno, Tokyo A late spring snow, ca. 1910, melts beneath cherry trees in blossom. Masoleums of Tokugawa shogun line the path to the family shrine, established by the first Shogun: Ieyasu.

Toshogu Shrine

In the southwestern corner of Ueno Park, near Shinobazu Pond sits Toshogu Kyu [def: Capital illumination government shrine] dedicated to the first Shogun [def: General], Tokugawa Ieyasu. Built in 1627 in accordance with Ieyasu's dying wish, Toshogu Shrine has survived far longer than did Ieyasu's authoritarian regime and any progeny that bore his surname.


Map of Ueno Park.
Click to enlarge.

Neither regal or glamourous, the shrine emerged unscathed from the Battle of Ueno in 1867 (the last stand of the Tokugawa shogunate), the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, and the 1945 wartime firebombings of Tokyo. The shrine remains standing today and open to the public as a vital, visible link connecting two widely divergent epochs in Japanese history: those of feudal Edo and modern Tokyo.

As one exits the shrine, there is a large placard upon which are inscribed in kanji [def: Japanese calligraphy] the precepts by which Ieyasu attempted to live his life:

Life is like walking along a long road shouldering a heavy load;
    there is no need to hurry.
One who treats difficulties as the normal state of affairs will
    never be discontented.
Patience is the source of eternal peace;
    treat anger as an enemy.
Harm will befall one who knows only success
    and has never experienced failure.
Blame yourself rather than others.
It is better not to reach than to go too far.