Tokyo Guide: Tawaramachi and Inaricho
Tawaramachi and Inaricho 田原町 稲荷町
Inaricho and Tawaramachi are adjacent subway stations on the Ginza subway line in Taito ward, Tokyo. Both are located on the east-west-running Asakusa-dori Avenue. For the kilometer or so between them, both sides of Asakusa-dori Avenue are teeming with temples and shrines, often with more than one per block.
However, walking along Asakusa-dori, the passerby's attention is captured not by the temples, which are hidden away on backstreets, but by the solid phalanx of stores selling religious goods and regalia. Most of these stores are on the south side of the street. Buddhist stores predominate, but there is a handful of Shinto-related stores, too.
Among the Buddhist stores there is a wide variety in terms of shop size, price bracket, and type of goods: altars, statues, urns, incense, candles, tablets, robes, hangings, prayer beads, and more.
The shops stretch from Tawaramachi Station in the east to a little past Inaricho Station in the west, right up to where the Japan National Route 4 overhead highway bisects Asakusa-dori at the Ueno end.
Higashi Honganji Temple
Higashi Honganji Temple is the biggest Buddhist temple on this stretch of Asakusa-dori. Higashi Honganji Temple has its roots in the 16th century, and moved here in 1662 following the Great Fire of Meireki which ravaged Tokyo in 1657—as did many temples now in Asakusa. The majestic wooden main hall (hondo) was last rebuilt in 1939 after destruction by fire, and refurbished in 1953 after war damage sustained in 1945.
The entrance to the temple is at Kikuyabashi intersection, just 200 meters or so west of Tawaramachi subway station. It is a picturesque entrance, with an old stone post bearing the temple name. The grounds of Higashi Honganji are broad (but without much greenery) and the main temple building is grand and imposing. More often than not, a remembrance service for the dead is being held inside, which visitors may quietly observe.
Shitaya Shrine is the major Shinto shrine on this part of Asakusa-dori Avenue. Its entrance is marked by a prominent red torii arch on the south side of the avenue, straddling the side road leading to the shrine. Shitaya Shrine has its roots in the 8th century, and moved here in 1928 from the nearby Shitaya district after the fire that ravaged Tokyo in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. The current building dates from 1934. Shitaya Shrine is a small, unpretentious shrine, tending to slightly ramshackle. Being a Shinto shrine, Shitaya Shrine is a place for local people to celebrate auspicious occasions.
Access - how to get to Tawaramachi and Inaricho
To get to Asakusa-dori Avenue, take the Ginza subway line to Tawaramachi Station or Inaricho station. Exit A2 of Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express Line is also very close to the Tawaramachi end. Exit 1 of Ueno Station on the Hibiya Subway Line is near the Inaricho end. The Central Exit of Ueno Station on the JR Yamanote Line, and the Keisei-Ueno Line, are also close to the Inaricho end of Asakusa-dori Avenue.
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