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Choan-ji - Tokyo Tourist Guide

Choan-ji

長安時

 

Choan-ji

 

Tokyo, Taito-ku, Yanaka 5-2-22

Tel.: 03-3828-1094


 

             Of all the temples for the Seven Gods of Fortune in Yanaka Choan-ji is the least conspicuous. I could not find it and asked an elderly lady, who told me that she had been living in the area for 76 years since she was born. This very friendly lady walked with me for a while to point me in the right direction, but advised me to ask the nearby dry-cleaner just to make sure. Fact is that the temple is not as impressive as most others. At the entrance you are greeted with a sign in English that says: "May Peace Prevail on Earth", a wish that does not feel so illusive when you walk around in tranquil Yanaka.

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             Choanji is dedicated to one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, Jurojin.  However it also houses  "Itabi". Itabi, also called the stone board stupa or blue stone stupa, were originally erected for the repose of the souls of the dead during the Kamakura and Muromachi Eras. There are three Itabi in Choan-ji that date back to these eras.

Yanaka, Cho-anji Itabi

             Cho-an-ji was established in 1669, but the Itabi are estimated to be at least 400 years older. It is believed that prior to Shingon-sect had a temple on the same spot and the Itabi are they only objects that remained.

 

 

 

Choan-ji

 

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  Buried in the precincts of this tiny temple is the artist Hogai Kano (1828-1888). Hogai belonged to the Kano School (long-time court favorites) of artists and was one of the last painters of that line. He was picked by Okakura Tenshin to be the first teacher at the School of Fine Arts (predecessor to the Tokyo University of Arts). Sadly Hogai died before he could take up his position.

 
 

寿老人

Jurojin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          In Japan, Jurōjin (寿老人), also known as Gama, is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune or Shichi-fuku-jin, according to Taoist beliefs. He is the God of longevity.

          He walks with a staff and a fan. He is depicted as an old man with a long white beard and often a very tall bald head, with a scroll tied to his staff, on which is written the lifespan of all living things. The deer, a symbol of longevity, usually (but not always) accompanies him as a messenger, as do other long-lived animals such as the crane and the tortoise. Jurōjin is often identified with Fukurokuju. The two are said to inhabit the same body.

          The Old Man of the South Pole is the Taoist deification of Canopus, the brightest star of the constellation "Carina". He is often depicted in the Chinese pictures as an old man with a long white beard, with a deer on his side. This style of picture is related to the story of an emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty who had invited such an old man from the street and later considered the old man as the sign of his longevity.

          Canopus is usually called in Chinese as the Star of the Old Man or "the Star of the Old Man of the South Pole". Since Carina is a Southern constellation, Canopus is rarely seen in Northern China and, if seen in a good weather, looks reddish lying near the southern horizon. Because the red color is the symbol of happiness and longevity in China, Canopus is also known in China and its neighboring countries of Korea, Japan and Vietnam as the Star of the Old Age  or the Star of the Man of the Old Age. In Japan, it became Jurōjin, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune.

 

 

 

Other temples and their deities in Yanaka:

TempleDeity
Tokaku-jiFukurokuju
Seiun-jiEbisu
Shusei-inHotei
Tennou-jiBishamonten
Choan-jiJuroujin
Gokoku-inDaikokuten
BentendoBenzaiten

 

 

 

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