Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine | VISIT TOYOTA CITY‐Toyota City Official Travel Site-

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    Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine

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    Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine

    Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616) and Matsudaira Chikauji (d. 1394?) are enshrined at the Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine complex. Ieyasu was the ninth head of the Matsudaira family and founder of the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. His ancestor, Chikauji, was the first head of the family. The shrine is officially called Hachiman Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine, and Hachiman, the guardian deity of the Matsudaira and the warrior class, is also enshrined on the grounds.

    Matsudaira Toshogu is one of the more than 100 Toshogu shrines in Japan. The first such sanctuary was Kunozan Toshogu on Mt. Kuno in Shizuoka Prefecture, where Ieyasu was originally buried. Most Toshogu sanctuaries enshrine only Ieyasu, but Matsudaira Toshogu also honors Chikauji to emphasize the origins of the Matsudaira-Tokugawa family line.

    The shrine stands on the site of the former Matsudaira estate, where descendants of the family lived well into the twentieth century. A Toshogu shrine was first established there in 1619 alongside an older shrine dedicated to Hachiman. The Hachiman shrine is now located in the northeastern corner of the complex, whereas the Toshogu shrine was rebuilt on its present site in 1931 after the Matsudaira estate was dismantled. The main shrine building was renovated in 2015 to mark 400 years since Ieyasu’s death. The ceiling in the worship hall (haiden) is decorated with 108 images of local flowers and other plants painted by the Toyota-based lacquer artist Ando Noriyoshi (b. 1947).

    Site of the Matsudaira Estate

    Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine occupies the site of the former Matsudaira estate, the ancestral home of the Matsudaira samurai family. The main line of the family is thought to have resided there from the days of Chikauji (d. 1394?), founder of the family, until the fifteenth century. At that time, the Matsudaira advanced to the west and south, conquering the nearby plains. Their native lands eventually came to be watched over by a branch of the family known as Tarozaemon. Descendants of the Tarozaemon family made the estate their home until the 1920s, when they moved to Tokyo. The Toshogu Shrine was established on the site in its present form in 1931.

    What the Matsudaira estate looked like in the time of Chikauji is not known. However, documents and maps from the 1600s onward depict a walled compound protected by a moat on three sides and by the steep mountainside to the north. The eastern section of the moat was filled in sometime in the 1800s, but the L-shaped segment to the south and west remains, as does the stone wall that lines the moat and the earthen bridge over it. Part of the compound wall on the western side extends into the moat. This is a defensive feature that enabled archers to shoot directly at invaders seeking to advance along the moat’s edge.

    The site of the Matsudaira estate is now the central feature of the Matsudaira National Historic Site. The site also includes Kogetsuin Temple, some 250 meters to the east, and two nearby sites of medieval forts built by the Matsudaira.

    Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine: Main Shrine and Ceiling Paintings

    Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine: Main Shrine and Ceiling Paintings

    The Main Shrine is the central feature and most sacred part of Matsudaira Toshogu. It is where shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616) is enshrined as a Shinto deity alongside Matsudaira Chikauji (d. 1394?), the founder of the Matsudaira family. The Main Shrine was built in 1931 in the gongen-zukuri style that is a hallmark of shrines favored by the ruling warrior class during the Edo period (1603–1867). In this style, the worship hall (haiden), liturgy hall (saimonden), and main sanctuary (honden) are all under one roof. Only the worship hall is open to the public. Its lattice ceiling is decorated with 108 images of local flowers and other plants painted by the Toyota-based lacquer artist Ando Noriyoshi (b. 1947). The paintings were finished in 2015 as part of the building’s renovation, undertaken to commemorate 400 years since Ieyasu’s death.

    Each of the 108 images is painted on a round background of cedar wood, coated only with clear lacquer so that the grain of the wood is visible. Black lacquer is used to create the circular framing around each painting and to cover the rails that create the lattice. The images depict plants such as white and red plum blossoms, dwarf bamboo, and chrysanthemums, and are arranged into four sections to represent the seasons. The central painting on the eastern end features the rising sun, while that on the western end includes the full moon. In each corner is an image of futaba aoi (Asarum caulescens, a species of wild ginger), the plant that inspired the Matsudaira-Tokugawa family emblem. That crest features a mythical three-leaved version of the two-leaved futaba aoi, which can be seen growing outside the Main Shrine.

    Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine: Ubuyu Well

    Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine: Ubuyu Well

    The Ubuyu Well is thought to be among the oldest extant structures on the grounds of Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine. According to Matsudaira family lore, water from this well has been used to give the family’s newborn babies their first bath (ubuyu) since at least the fifteenth century. This tradition was upheld even after the main line of the family left the ancestral home in Matsudaira-go and expanded its territory to the south and west. Legend has it that when Matsudaira Takechiyo (1543–1616), the future shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, was born at Okazaki Castle some 13 kilometers southwest of Matsudaira-go, a rider was dispatched to this well to bring back bathwater in a bamboo tube.

    The Ubuyu Well is no longer in use, but water from it is drawn twice every year. On the night before the Matsudaira-go Gongen Festival, a celebration of the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the priests of Matsudaira Toshogu open the well and dedicate some of its water to the enshrined deities. Water from the Ubuyu Well is also used to purify a wooden ball used for rituals during the Tenka Festival, the other big annual event in Matsudaira-go.

    Next to the well are two small Shinto shrines. The larger enshrines Hachiman, the guardian deity of the Matsudaira family and the warrior class. It stands in front of a huge boulder thought to be the original object of reverence at the shrine. In distant antiquity, such natural features were often worshiped as abodes of the divine, and the idea of enshrining deities in buildings was adopted only later. The smaller shrine is dedicated to Benzaiten, the deity of knowledge, beauty, and the arts, who is also associated with water.

    Basic Information



    Address 〒444-2202
    13 Akabara, Matsudaira-cho, Toyota-City
    Cost Free admission
    Business hours All-day admission: 10:00AM-3:00 PM (Matsudairagou)
    Parking Free
    Directions by public transportation [Directions from Nagoya]
    ・From Nagoya Station on the Higashiyama subway line, go to Fushimi Station and transfer to the Tsurumai subway line (which connects to the Meitetsu Toyota Line from Akaike). Get off at Meitetsu Toyotashi Station.
    ・From Meitetsu Nagoya Station, take the Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line to Chiryu Station. Transfer trains and get off at Meitetsu Toyotashi Station.
    ・From JR Nagoya Station, take the JR Chuo Main Line to Kozoji Station. Transfer to the Aichi Loop Line and get off at Shin-Toyota Station.
    *Click here to check transportation directions and fares in Toyota.

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