We hope everyone enjoyed the cherry blossoms as much as we did! The cherry blossoms have officially announced the coming of spring, and now is the season of what we call “shinryoku”.
“Shinryoku” is expressed with two kanjis (Chinese characters) – “shin” means “new”, and “ryoku” means “green”, and is used to express the fresh, green leaves of spring.
You can enjoy “shinryoku” in parks, gardens and even in your neighborhood, but Jyoshinji temple in Kuhonbutsu is a local favorite of ours that you will most likely not find in a guidebook. Kuhonbutsu is a little station along the Tokyu Oimachi line. It is so small that the platform does not fit the whole train, and the doors of the first or last train car does not open. So you should avoid the end cars when riding getting off at Kuhonbutsu station!
It is a minute walk to the Jyoshinji Sando, an alley approximately 200m long that leads you to the entrance of the temple. You can also choose to take a walk from the Jiyugaoka station along the Tokyu Toyoko Line which is about a 15 minute walk. I personally like to walk from the Jyoshinji Sando as the alley is also very scenic.
The Jyoshinji temple is also called “Kuhonbutsu” (same name as the station) as the temple is a home to nine Buddha statues. Established in 1678 by Kaseki Shonin (1617-1694), Jyoshinji was built on the former Okusawa Casle site. It belongs to Jodo Shu Pure Land Buddhist denomination and covers an area of 120,000 square meters.
The temple is open to public, and loved by locals of all ages. When I lived nearby, I would go to Jyoshinji for a stroll, and when my son was going to a nearby kindergarten, they would walk to there and play around in the premises. When I recently visited early Saturday morning, a very big group of senior citizens were there, working on their morning exercise.
Here are some photos of Jyoshinji taken in the end of April.
The Buddha statues are works by Kaseki Shonin. His project to make the nine Buddha statues started at the young age of 18, and it took him 33 years to finish the ninth statue. There are three Amitabha Halls in front of the main hall, and each embodies 3 statues. This is the reason that Jyoshinji is also called “Kuhonbutsu”. The only other temple that holds a complete set of nine Amida Buddha statues is the Jyoruriji in Kyoto. (Sorry there are no photos of the statues, as the halls that they are placed in are dark and I could not get any good shots!)
The statues are undergoing a restoration which will be completed in 2034, so don’t be upset if some of the statues are missing when you visit.
There are cherry blossoms, momiji (Japanese maple) gingko trees and kaya (Japanese nutmeg tree) among many trees in the premises. It is the perfect time to visit to enjoy “shinryoku”. The leaves take on a light but rich color. It is also beautiful in the autumn with the foliage. No matter what the season, it is a great place to visit!
Address:7-41-3 Okusawa, Setagaya-ku, Tōkyō
Access: 5 minute walk from Kuhonbutsu station, 15 minute walk from Jiyugaoka station