When the Buddhist Saint Nichiren Stayed at the house of Seki Nagateru, the Lord of this area, he carved a sculpture of himself and Nagateru built a hermitage in which he enshrined the sculpture. This was the beginning of Tenno-ji Temple, which is generally said to have been established in the Muromachi period between 1391 and 1427. The temple was however placed it was placed under the jurisdiction of neighboring Kanfeiji in 1699.
Tenno-ji was initially called Kanno-ji, but in 1833 in accordance with a decree by the Tokugawa Shogunate, its name was changed and its sect altered from the Nichiren sect of Buddhism to the Tendai sect. During the Edo Period public lotteries (tomikuji) were held here, so along with the Ryusen-ji temple in Meguro and the Yushima Tenjin Shrine in Ueno it was famous as one of the "Three Lotteries".
Among the temples still existent in Tokyo there are few that were founded before the Edo period (1600-1868), so Tenno-ji is one of the few ancient temples left in the metropolis. However most buildings were destroyed in the Battle of Ueno in 1868. A famous pagoda survived, and it became the subject of a novella by Meiji author Koda Rohan. Regrettably this structure was destroyed in a double loverfs suicide in 1957. It was never rebuilt. Only the foundation stones are left.
Most of the halls of the temple have been newly rebuilt in modern style – the only historical element is a large bronze Buddha dating from 1690, who sits in the open air.
Bishamonten, one of the seven Gods of Fortune, has a small hall all his own.
Other temples and their deities in Yanaka:
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