It's the most awesome temple I've ever seen. It's also one of the tiniest, but that doesn't lessen its impact in any way whatsoever.
Tsukuda Tenzai Jizōson (佃天台地蔵尊) in Tsukudajima consists entirely of a ginkgo surrounded by the walls of ordinary homes. It has a low ceiling, which means you can only see part of the trunk, and it houses an image of Jizō, the protector of children and travellers, carved on a flat stone.
The little temple is in a maze of alleys, barely wide enough for one person, that meander haphazardly through wooden houses that survived the great Kantō earthquake as well as the American firebombing. The ginkgo's trunk fills the temple itself; its branches tower above the houses. It must be beyond magnificent in autumn.
Apparently the origin of the tree is a bit of a mystery. All I could find on the internet is that it's been around forever, and that the residents of Tsukudajima, an island in the Sumida River, have been protecting it for many generations.
I would kill – which is not very Buddhist of me – but I would kill to live in the house right next to the ginkgo.
Tsukudajima is a fascinating area that provides a mind-boggling …
I can hear my journalism professor admonishing me in years long gone: "Get rid of your adjectives! Good writing doesn't need it! Nouns and verbs, that's all you need, nouns and verbs!"
Tsukudajima is an area that juxtaposes old Edo and modern Tokyo in a … sorry, prof! … in a mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, gee-whizz way: muddy canals, fishing boats and old shrines against soaring condominiums. The block that hides Tenzai Jizōson consists of old houses huddling next to alleys so narrow that you sometimes have to turn sideways as you walk through them. It's in the vicinity of the better known Sumiyoshi Jinja.
I've realized I'll have to return in spring, too, because there are … sorry, prof! … glorious, resplendent, magnificent cherry trees along the Sumida River.
My New Year's Walking Resolution is to explore Tokyo's rivers, especially the Sumida, a bit more, hence my trip to Tsukudajima. More about this area to follow soon.
|That narrow alley just behind the sign leads to the temple.|
|Click on the photos to see bigger versions.|
|Standing at the back of the temple, looking towards the alley in front|
|The trunk disappearing into the roof|
|The ginkgo. The photo was taken in the alley behind the temple. I want to live in that house with the balcony!|
|See that tree on the left? That's the giant ginkgo.|