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Shinjuku's Kagurazaka: Deep Connections with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate

Updated: 6 days ago


Shinjuku's Kagurazaka: Deep Connections with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate


Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun who Consolidated the Foundations of the Edo Shogunate


Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate (in office from 1623 to 1651), had a deep connection with Kagurazaka. Iemitsu solidified the hierarchical feudal system of the Shogunate and mandated the Sankin-Kotai system, which required feudal lords to reside in Edo periodically. He was also instrumental in establishing the isolationist policies that defined the Edo period.


Kagurazaka Street in Shinjuku, Constructed by Shogun Iemitsu


The most notable connection with Kagurazaka is the construction of Kagurazaka Street itself by Iemitsu. Designed as the 'Onarimichi,' or Shogun's route, it connected the Ushigome gate of Edo Castle to the residence of the senior councilor Sakai Tadakatsu.



Shinjuku's Kagurazaka: Deep Connections with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate


Shogun Iemitsu Named Denchuji Temple


Denchuji Temple, located between Kagurazaka and Edogawabashi stations, is a historic Zen temple named by Iemitsu. In 1650, while on a falconry outing, Iemitsu visited the temple and, noting its location amidst the fields, named it Denchuji. This temple has deep ties with Eiheiji Temple in Fukui Prefecture, a prominent Zen temple of the Soto sect.


Shinjuku's Kagurazaka: Deep Connections with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate


SaiShoji Temple Founded by Shogun Iemitsu


SaiShoji Temple, located in Hinoki-cho, Shinjuku, slightly away from Kagurazaka but within a 10-minute walking distance, contains the grave of So-shin-ni, who served under Iemitsu. So-shin-ni, an adopted daughter of Maeda Toshinaga from the Kaga domain, was known for her extensive Zen knowledge, earning her a position as an aide in the Ooku (the shogun's harem). Iemitsu, who also learned Zen principles from So-shin-ni, donated temple lands to establish SaiShoji, a Zen temple. It flourished as a major temple complex during the Edo period, and So-shin-ni's grave is still preserved there.


The Area Around Tsukudo Hachiman Shrine, where Shogun Iemitsu Hunted with Falcons


Today, Tsukudo Hachiman Shrine, located along Okubo Street and over 1200 years old, is one of Shinjuku’s oldest shrines. The surrounding area, known as Gotenyama, was named after the temporary residence set up by Iemitsu during his falconry excursions.


Shinjuku's Kagurazaka: Deep Connections with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate


Koshoji Temple at the Site of Ushigome Castle


Koshoji Temple, originally located in Kanda, was relocated to the site of Ushigome Castle during Iemitsu's reign in 1645. Situated uphill from Kagurazaka Street along Jizo-zaka, it boasted a magnificent view of Edo. Jizo-zaka was also home to the bustling vaudeville theater Waradanatei, frequented by the literary giant Natsume Soseki.


The Era of Shogun Iemitsu, when Noh Became Established as Shikigaku


Furthermore, it was during the eras of the third Shogun Iemitsu and the fourth Shogun Ietsuna that Noh was firmly established as Shikigaku, a type of performance art presented at official ceremonies. The presence of the Yarai Noh Theatre in Kagurazaka, situated on the former estate of Sakai Tadakatsu, is also linked to Iemitsu.


Shinjuku's Kagurazaka: Deep Connections with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate


The Birth of Ukiyo-e during the Era of Shogun Iemitsu


Hishikawa Moronobu dubbed the founder of Ukiyo-e, was born around the years 1918 or 1930, overlapping the lifetime of Iemitsu (1604-1651). Following his birth, the Ukiyo-e flourished until the end of the Edo period. Takahashi Studio, founded during the Ansei era (1855-1860), is also located near Kagurazaka.


Shinjuku's Kagurazaka: Deep Connections with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the Third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate


Experience Traditional Culture in Kagurazaka, Deeply Connected to the Third Shogun, Iemitsu


Thus, Shinjuku's Kagurazaka and its surrounding areas have deep ties with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Shogun of the Edo Shogunate. Our traditional culture experience tours include a Kagurazaka walking tour, Zen meditation at Denchuji Temple, Noh experiences at Yarai Noh Theatre, and Ukiyo-e experience at Takahashi Kobo (Studio).


Why not immerse yourself in the history and culture of Kagurazaka, a place deeply connected to the third Shogun, Iemitsu, and reflect on the Edo period some 400 years ago? This experience is sure to create unforgettable memories, not just for Japanese but also for international travelers.


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