|Yushima, Ochanomizu & Confucius
Tokyo is a busy city like New York - you get into your work-groove and even when you walk by old walls like the one above, your attention is more on the time than the reality you are passing through. I used to run by here as I looked at the time, wondering if I'd make the light and get up to the time clock before it clicked past 9:00 to 9:01 to make me late. (Thinking back on it now, it seems strange, since I always worked overtime - what's a minute or two in the morning....)
Yushima-Seido - there is something mysterious about this place. I asked several people working at the company I was at then (just down the street from the view above) if they knew about it and most of them didn't seem to. The wall - in spite of its obviously old design - seems to keep not only the inside from view, but also out of mind of those passing by. On some level they must know that there is something out of the ordinary on the other side of the wall, but there is no hint from the street side of the wall of just how much mysterious and historical space is sitting on the other side freely accessible from three entrance points - one just down the street from the camera's vantage point, one just behind, and one a six or seven minute walk away on the other (downhill) side of the temple grounds. The wall is at the top of a hill from the inside, so when you go in, there's suddenly all this space... all this settled feeling, green and historical space. One warning - the black temple has always produced a feeling of unease in me for whatever reason, but most of the rest of the grounds have a settled, comfortable and historical feel to them.
It's a fairly sudden transition - going from Ochanomizu Station (left above) to the inside of the garden a three minute walk away (middle and right above). The old gate in the middle picture is the oldest structure there, the other buildings are all rebuilds after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, when fire destroyed most of Tokyo. In any case, it's an old tradition in Japan to rebuild and rebuild again, so most old shrines and temples are many generations removed from the original structure in any given location.
Looking towards Akihabara from Hijiri Bridge, with the lower corner of Yushima Seido on the left. Akihabara is just a ten-minute walk away.
Being early spring when this photo above was taken (March 28th), the cherry blossoms are out, but not the leaves of other trees, so you can see one of the buildings within Yushima Seido through the bare tree branches. The train in the right hand picture is the Marunouchi (subway) Line, that comes out of the tunnels just briefly to go over the river. The older subway lines run just below the surface, but the newer ones, like the Oedo Line, are way down deep in the earth and require a lot more (vertical) walking time to access.
Confucius awaits.... In the middle of this area of the temple grounds, it's hard to imagine the streets of modern Tokyo on the other side of the walls. One day I looked down at my feet standing on the earth and I thought (without sarcasm), "... this is amazing... this dirt beneath my feet has never been covered over with concrete or asphalt... incredible....". In central Tokyo (outside the Imperial Palace grounds) that's a slightly amazing thing.
Copyright 2006 by Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo
Above - (from a brochure sold at the temple for Y300) - apparently taken sometime between 1884 and 1891. The very beginnings of Yushima Seido were in 1632 in Ueno, with it being moved to Yushima (above) in 1690. The building in the middle was a "higher normal school". Just to the right of where that building was, there is now a road (the road in the photo at the top of this page) and while Yushima Seido on the right is largely unchanged, the section to the left of the road is now a medical university (see maps below - Edo-era map on left and current map on right).
The maps below are of the same area, with a wider view - note Akihabara Station in the lower right of the (current) map on the right.
The same area - with a current map on the left and an aerial view on the right (Ochanomizu Station is in the middle on the bottom of both the map and the photo).
Drawings from brochures obtained at Yushima Seido. It's hard to tell in the photo on the right below, but on the grounds of Yushima Seido, the building on the bottom is downhill from the building to the left and further back.
Images Through Glass