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First built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1612, Sengakuji temple belongs to the Zen Soto sect. This is the Chumon Gate, facing the south, the first gate most people pass through to enter Sengakuji temple. Reconstructed in 1836. 中門
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After the Chumon is the Sanmon Gate which is the temple's main gate. Reconstructed in 1832. 山門
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Path to the Hondo temple hall. 本堂
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Hondo temple hall. The original hall was destroyed during World War II. Reconstructed in 1953 in the Kamakura style. 本堂
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Since it was during the Gishisai Festival on Dec. 14, banners are in front of the Hondo hall for the 47 loyal retainers of Ako. Read about it here.
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During the Gishisai Festival in mid-Dec., the temple is especially crowded. This is the long line to enter the graves of the 47 loyal samurai retainers. The gravesite's gate up ahead was the back gate of the Ako estate in Tokyo. Later moved here.
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At the gate to enter the graves of the 47 ronin, they sell incense sticks. 四十七士墓所の門
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Grave of Lord Asano Naganori (Takumi-no-kami) (1667-1701) of Ako Province.
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Asano clan grave
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Incense burner
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Large way going to the graves of the 47 ronin masterless samurai at Sengakuji temple. 四十七士墓所
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Gishisai lanterns.
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The graves all have headstones with the loyal retainer's name on it and age at death.
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People buy incense sticks at the gravesite gate and place incense at all the graves.
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On the Gishisai day or anniversary of the attack on Kira, there is an extra amount of people and incense smoke.
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The smoke can kill all the bugs in your fur or wool coat.
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Very thick smoke, but not suffocating. People with asthma or lung problems might want to avoid this.
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Names are clearly written on wooden plaques.
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Oishi Kuranosuke's grave
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Soon after the 47 retainers committed seppuku on Feb. 4, 1703, they were buried here.
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The gravestones all look alike. There is a map showing who is buried where.
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Worshippers pile on the incense
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Pile of incense in front of a grave.
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Statue of Oishi Kuranosuke, leader of the 47 loyal retainers. He's looking (glaring) east toward Edo. The temple grounds also have the Ako Samurai Memorial Hall and the well where they washed Kira's head.
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The Gishisai on Dec. 14 marks the day when the 47 loyal retainers attacked and beheaded Kira to avenge their master (Lord Asano) in 1702. They then marched to Sengakuji to present the head to their master's grave. This is reenacted annually.
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Gishisai on Dec. 14: Headed by Oishi Kuranosuke, the 47 loyal retainers arrive Sengakuji temple.
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Gishisai: Kira's head strung on a spear is brought to Sengakuji temple.
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Kira's head presented to the Hondo hall. Also see my YouTube video here.
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Leader of the 47 ronin, Oishi Kuranosuke goes in front of the Hondo hall and reported their successful capture of Kira.
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The 47 masterless samurai then proceed to the nearby grave of their Lord Asano.
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Heading to their lord's grave.
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After reporting to their lord, the group leaves the temple.
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They cross the street full of cars. A Gishisai Festival is also held in Ako in Hyogo Prefecture.
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