[Minato History Walk] "Edo's Case Files In Minato Ward": Touring Sites of Major Incidents that Changed History
[Genna 9 (1623)] The tragedy of the Christians who were suppressed by the Prohibition of Christianity
The location is about an 8-minute walk from the west exit of JR Tamachi Station. Cross the Fuda-no-Tsuji intersection, which was once the entrance to Edo from the Tokaido. It was also where "Fuda-no-Tsuji", a place where the Shogunate's policies and codes were posted, was established. We then walk a short distance toward Shinagawa, where a stone monument, "Motowa Christian Site" stands on a small hill in a square.
Among them, Chusui Hara was a Shogunal retainer who served Tokugawa Ieyasu for a long time, but he was a tragic figure who resisted apostasy and was banished from Sunpu Castle. It is said that the Christians were dragged through the city and burned at the stake. It is also recorded that 15 years later, in Kanei 15 (1638), many more Christians were executed here.
Genna Christian Heritage
Next to a large rock are a plaque and a monument to the Genna Christians. It was at this site that Iemitsu Tokugawa, the third Edo shogun, had 50 Christians executed in 1623, and where more Christians were executed 15 years later. It was the setting for Shusaku Endo's short story, "Fuda No Tsuji", centered around the monk "Nezumi" (rat) and a protagonist referred to as "Otoko" (man).
[Genroku 15 (1703)] The setting of "Chushingura," where loyalty to the lord was fulfilled
A Bushido Story that Represents Japan: Touring the Origins of Chusingura & Ako Roshi in Minato, Tokyo
[Bunka 2 (1805)] "Megumi no Kenka (Fight of the Megumi)," which became the subject of kabuki and rakugo
At that time, local steeplejacks were allowed to watch sumo without paying an admission fee. Tatsugoro, a member of the Megumi, a local firefighter group, also tried to enter the venue without paying an admission fee, but one of his companions was not a local firefighter, and they had an argument at the entrance. Kuryuzan, a sumo wrestler who happened to be passing by, joined them, and a commotion started. One of the firefighters rang the half-bell, which is usually rung in case of fire, to rally his friends, and a big fight ensued, involving the "Megumi" firefighters and the sumo wrestlers, resulting in one death.
"The precincts of Shiba Shinmei-gu Shrine" is the "Shiba Oojingu" in Shiba Daimon. The incident, in which 36 people were tried by magistrates, quickly became the talk of the town and was later adapted into popular Kabuki and Rakugo. It became a story that is still widely passed down today as a major incident in Edo.
According to the shrine's history, it is one of several ancient shrines in the city used to house the divided spirits (bunrei) of the Ise Shrine during the middle of the Heian Period. It got its name of Shiba-daijingu starting from the Meiji Period, before which it was called by other names including Iikura-shinmeigu and Shiba-shinmeigu. The name of Shiba-shinmeigu is known for the famous "Megumi Fight" that took place in March 1805 inside the shrine, where Kanjin-sumo wrestlers such as Yotsuguruma Daihachi and Mizuhiki Seigorou fought with the Megumi-no-tobi, a group of firefighters who considered the area their territory. Even back then, the Minato ward lying in front of the shrine's gates was a lively business district. During the Edo Period, the shrine was a thriving venue for entertainment such as sumo matches and theatrical performances, which were allowed in the shrine grounds. The theater was a type of Edo-sannomiya theater, and is said to have been first held inside Shiba-shinmei in 1645. In September of every year, the "Daradara Festival", an event supposedly named due to its long duration (daradara means lengthy), is held, during which ginger is widely sold inside the shrine and its vicinity, giving the shrine its nickname as the "Ginger Market". As famous as the "Betterazuke market" of Kodenma-cho, the festival was such an enjoyable event for Edo commoners that it was even depicted in ukiyo-e art. During the festival, ginger, chigibako, and amazake are sold. Chigibakos are oval boxes made of cypress, said to bring additional clothing when put into a cabinet, a good luck charm of sorts, whose name comes from the idea of a thousand pieces of wood (chigi) leading to a thousand pieces of clothing (chigi). Beneath the stairway is a savings mound built to commemorate Makino Motojirou's achievements in establishing the Real-estate and Savings Bank (Fudo-chokin-ginkou).
[Mannen 1 (1861)] A genius interpreter who lost his life during the turmoil at the end of the Edo period
In July of the third year of the Ansei era, Dutchman Henry Heusken arrived in Shimoda together with Townsend Harris, acting as his right-hand man. He was active in the negotiation and signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan. His grave is a ward-designated historic landmark. Born in Amsterdam, Heusken traveled to America and, as Harris valued his ability in languages such as German and French, was then appointed in Japan. With a cheerful and openhearted disposition, well versed and discerning on the conditions in Japan, he was well known among the foreign residents of Edo. However, on his way back from the Akabane reception hall where he was interpreting for the Prussian ambassador and the Japanese delegation, he was attacked by a group of assassins near Nakano Bridge. He died at the age of 28 on January 15, 1861. Although the most famous old cherry tree of the old capital no longer exists, in spring the cherries and roses of Sharon on the temple grounds display magnificent blossoms.
[Bunkyu 1 (1861)] The "Tozenji Incident," in which the minister's actions aroused antipathy
Alcock was an active figure, such as being the first foreigner to stand on the summit of Mt. Fuji. In 1868, when he arrived in Nagasaki on his way back from Hong Kong, he took the overland route back to Edo, against the advice of the shogunate, which recommended that he return to Edo by sea. This, however, aroused the antipathy of the expulsionists, who claimed that "foreigners had defiled Japan, the land of the gods." Immediately after his return to Tozenji, he was attacked by Mito domain ronin.
Tozenji Temple was used as a diplomatic residence by the first British diplomatic envoy to Japan, Sir John Rutherford Alcock, and his successor, Sir Harry Smith Parkes. Although it was attacked by the Joi sect several times, the inner study and the entrance remain as they were at that time.