Friday, November 16, 2007

Where Tokyo's temples are—Yanaka

If traditional Japanese architecture in general and old temples and shrines in particular are right up your ally (so to speak), then the next time you're in Tokyo, be sure to visit the Yanaka area. Yanaka has the largest concentration of shrines and temples of all the districts of Tokyo.

How did all those buildings end up there? Well, it seems that during the Edo period, the shogun ordered all the temples concentrated in the city's center to relocate to Yanaka, which at the time was the outskirts of town. The move was intended to create firebreaks in the crowded city—the shrines' thatched roofs were know to burn violently when a fire broke out.

The above is from Frommer's Walking Tours: Tokyo, according to which you can walk the highlights of Yanaka in about 4 hours.

Suwa jinja entrance
At the entrance of Suwa Jinja (Shrine), in Yanaka, Tokyo.

—Mellow Monk

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