Go to any one of the thousands of temples that exist in and around Tokyo and you’ll find that it is more than likely guarded by foxes, dogs or lions but there are a few exceptions. Last September I reported on the shrine in Shibuya which is guarded by wolves and back in November, whilst getting my Myanmar visa, I took a bit of a detour to this temple in Minami Shinagawa as I had a couple of hours to spare. Not exactly a day trip, or even a half day one, but thats the banner under which this article will fly!
This temple is located at the end of a narrow alley leading from the main road and immediately stands out due to its unusual but very beautiful elephant gate which is very Indian/hindu looking in its appearance. The gate is counted as a Tangible Cultural Property of Shinagawa Ward…not that I have any idea what that means exactly!!
Of course elephants are no strangers to the pages of Tokyo Fox having featured prominently on our recent trip to Thailand where we spent a day doing elephant training up in Chiang Mai which helped gain a deeper affection for these huge animals. While its fair to say the same level of appreciation can’t quite be acquired at this temple, seeing elephants standing guard (one with tusks and one without) is a unique sight and as you go in to the complex there are some golden-coloured elephants, buddha statues, paintings and lotus motifs symbolising fortune, purification and faithfulness in Buddhism.
It’s thanks to the excellent Rurousha blog that I even knew about this place and her site tells the story (in much better words!) of some woman falling asleep and in her dream a bull elephant bearing a white lotus flower circles her a few times before striking her with its trunk and magically disappearing into her body thereby creating a baby!
So there you have it, another interesting little place tucked away in the huge metropolis of Tokyo which is proof that there are many hidden delights out there for one to find by just getting out there and taking a look around.
Shinryō-ji temple can be found at 2-7-25 Minami Shinagawa and Aomono-Yokochō is the closest station on the Keikyu Main Line.