Dishonor and retribution: The final resting place of the 47 Ronin (masterless samurai).
Sengaku-ji Temple is often overlooked by travelers coming to Tokyo. Because their tale is relatively unheard of worldwide, few realize the remains of the legendary 47 Ronin (masterless samurai) reside here. For history buffs or those interested in Japanese culture, don’t miss visiting Sengaku-ji Temple.
Their story begins over three centuries ago after their master, Lord Asano Naganori of Ako (now Hyogo Prefecture), was forced to commit ritualistic suicide after drawing his sword against an advisor in Edo Castle. Having now become ronin, these few loyal individuals sought to regain their master’s honor by murdering the advisor that instigated the original attack. These men would later be remembered as the “47 Ronin.”
Sengaku-ji is the last link between what is now known as the Ako vendetta, the vengeance enacted by the Forty-Seven Ronin, and today. Filled with justice, loyalty and honor, their legacy remains a beloved tale across Japan.
Compared to some larger temples in Tokyo, Sengaku-ji might seem underwhelming at
first, but don’t be deterred. After ascending a small series of steps and passing through billowing clouds of incense, you’ll come to the humble resting place of the 47 Ronin and their lord.
An unexpectedly heavy feeling of reverence washes over you. These retainers knew that their failure or success would both result in their deaths. They intentionally fell into dishonor, removed themselves from family and took up positions as craftsmen to gain access to their tar
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Before you go
Visiting the temple grounds and the 18th century gravestones is free, but for a small fee, a visit to the Ako-gishi Kinenkan (historical museum) is also worth it. This museum has historical artifacts and depictions of the Ako vendetta as well as the modern retellings through Kabuki and film. Information in English is available.
Every year on Dec. 14 Segaku-ji hosts a festival on the day of the 47 Ronin’s vengeance. The event draws a lot of visitors paying their respects so plan accordingly.