Tales of Old Japan eBook

Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 481 pages of information about Tales of Old Japan.

The temples in Yedo are not to be compared in point of beauty with those in and about Peking; what is marble there is wood here.  Still they are very handsome, and in the days of its magnificence the Temple of Uyeno was one of the finest.  Alas! the main temple, the hall in honour of the sect to which it belongs, the hall of services, the bell-tower, the entrance-hall, and the residence of the prince of the blood, were all burnt down in the battle of Uyeno, in the summer of 1868, when the Shogun’s men made their last stand in Yedo against the troops of the Mikado.  The fate of the day was decided by two field-pieces, which the latter contrived to mount on the roof of a neighbouring tea-house; and the Shogun’s men, driven out of the place, carried off the Miya in the vain hope of raising his standard in the north as that of a rival Mikado.  A few of the lesser temples and tombs, and the beautiful park-like grounds, are but the remnants of the former glory of Uyeno.  Among these is a temple in the form of a roofless stage, in honour of the thousand-handed Kwannon.  In the middle ages, during the civil wars between the houses of Gen and Hei, one Morihisa, a captain of the house of Hei, after the destruction of his clan, went and prayed for a thousand days at the temple of the thousand-handed Kwannon at Kiyomidzu, in Kiyoto.  His retreat having been discovered, he was seized and brought bound to Kamakura, the chief town of the house of Gen. Here he was condemned to die at a place called Yui, by the sea-shore; but every time that the executioner lifted his sword to strike, the blade was broken by the god Kwannon, and at the same time the wife of Yoritomo, the chief of the house of Gen, was warned in a dream to spare Morihisa’s life.  So Morihisa was reprieved, and rose to power in the state; and all this was by the miraculous intervention of the god Kwannon, who takes such good care of his faithful votaries.  To him this temple is dedicated.  A colossal bronze Buddha, twenty-two feet high, set up some two hundred years ago, and a stone lantern, twenty feet high, and twelve feet round at the top, are greatly admired by the Japanese.  There are only three such lanterns in the empire; the other two being at Nanzenji—­a temple in Kiyoto, and Atsura, a shrine in the province of Owari.  All three were erected by the piety of one man, Sakuma Daizen no Suke, in the year A.D. 1631.

Iyemitsu, the founder of the temple, was buried with his grandfather, Iyeyasu, at Nikko; but both of these princes are honoured with shrines here.  The Shoguns who are interred at Uyeno are Iyetsuna, Tsunayoshi, Yoshimune, Iyeharu, Iyenori, and Iyesada, the fourth, fifth, eighth, tenth, eleventh, and thirteenth Princes of the Line.  Besides them, are buried five wives of the Shoguns, and the father of the eleventh Shogun.


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Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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