Gokokuji and Genroku period

quiet, impressive temple in Tokyo Bunkyo-ku

Gokokuji and Genroku period

Gokokuji is a special temple, as the main hall, Kanno-do, dates back to 1697, Genroku period.  It has survived the fires, earthquakes and WWI air raids, which is really miraculous.  Inside the Kanno-do, you can enjoy the collections of arts from the Genroku period (1688-1704) when Edo/old Tokyo saw many of its cultures flourish.  It is said that the collections are most magnificent in Tokyo.

1 Gokokuji temple 護国寺

  • 1.1 access and location
  • 1.2 history
  • 1.3 highlights

2 Genroku period- when culture flourished in Edo/old Tokyo



1 Gokokuji temple

Among all the temples in Tokyo, this one is special as the main hall, Kanno-do, actually dates back to 1697 when it was originally built.   The fifth Tokugawa Shogun, Tsunayoshi, built this for his mother.  The collections in the main hall are those from this period, called Genroku period (1688-1704), when Tsunayoshi ruled the country.  You can go in (for free) and enjoy the art, which is said to be the most magnificent in Tokyo.  (given the earthquakes and air raids from WWII, most of the original historical buildings are re-built and not originals in Tokyo.)



1.1 access and location of Gokokuji temple

It is situated right in front of the metro station, Gokokuji, on the Yurakucho metro line.  Very easy to find.

1.2 history of Gokokuji Temple

This period, Genroku period, is from 16880-1704 when the fifth Tokugawa Shogun, Tsunayoshi, ruled for about 30 years, bring stability as well as economic growth especially enriching the merchants`s lives in Edo/Osaka/Kyoto.  Given this background, culture flourished, with Kabuki, Ukiyoe, Bunraku, which were all entertainment for the masses.   More below, including the key artists from this period.

1.3 highlights

The writing here, Furou, (you won`t age) was written by Ietatsu Tokugawa.

The Niouzo, or the two statues on the right and left of the entrance gate.  They are guarding the temple from evil and intruders.


Taho-to, from 1938.

Gokokuji in Autumn-beautiful colors with impressive Japanese pine trees

2 Genroku Period 元禄

During this period when the firth Tokugawa Shogun, Tsunayoshi, ruled, there was strong economic growth, especially in the cities of Edo/Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.  Merchants from the cities started to use currency, as the basis of transactions, vs rice which were used traditionally.  Given the rise in convenience and liquidity of money, economic activities took off.

With this, culture also flourished.  As entertainment for the masses, Kabuki, Ukiyoe, Bunraku, all started during this period.

2.1 Famous artists from Genroku Period

     Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) 松尾芭蕉

Poet, famous for his Japanese style Haiku.  Okunohosomichi, depicting his extensive travel from Tokyo to North of Japan, is the most famous of his many works.

     Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725) 近松門左衛門

Famous author of 110 Joruri pieces and about 30 Kabuki stories.  His focus was on the everyday lives of merchants.

     Ukiyo-e 浮世絵

Woodblock prints were used as advertisement for Kabuki.  It started during this period.

Please refer to the article here:  http://hiddenjapanguide.com/archives/840


Any questions or comments?



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