Ueno was very famous as a place of cherry blossom from the beginning of the Edo era. There were many species of cherry trees and some trees had even their own names; a typical one of them is the Shushiki Cherry Tree.
In the Genroku period, a daughter named Oaki of a sweet shop in Koamicho, Nihonbashi wrote a Haiku poem, “Cherry blossom near a well are in danger by drunken fellows.” This expresses a scene of crowded cherry blossom viewers near a well. She was only 13 years old at that time, but had a pen name of Shushiki. Therefore, this cherry tree near the well was called “The Shu-shiki Cherry Tree.”
There was a war called the Ueno War around here in May 15, 1868. It delimited Edo era and Meiji Restoration. In this war, a soldier group of Tokugawa persons’ (old government) named Shogi-tai fought fought against the army of the new government and was defeated.
Okisato Ogawa and his comrades, who were the survivors of Shogi-tai, obtained the permission of Meiji government at last in 1874 and built the grave-yard of killed soldiers. Afterwards, the grave-yard of Shogi-tai was preserved by the Ogawa clan for over 120 years, and succeeded by Tokyo Metropolitan government in 2003. We learn the history of the Ueno War thanks to such an effort now.
Shogi-tai was an army of the Edo shogunate, which was organized in 1868 to fight against the Emperor at the end of The Edo era. They fought around here on fifteenth of May in the same year. In those days Ueno-no-yama (Ueno hill) was in the precincts of Kan-eiji temple (Tokugawa shogunate’s family temple), where there were many temples and pagodas. But the battle was so intense that almost all of them were destroyed. The Shogi-tai was defeated by the evening of the day. The fight is called Ueno war or fight of Shogi-tai.
These two tombstones were erected for the Shogi-tai soldiers killed here. The small tomb stone in the front was erected by a priest of Kan-eiji temple in 1869 and the large stone in the back by a survivor, a soldier called Ogawa Okisato and several of his comrades.
These tombstones were registered ad important cultural assets in 1990 in the Book of Cultural Assets of Taito City.
Figure on brave fighting of Shogi-tai against the soldiers of new government in Ueno War.
It is said that because this picture was drawn according to the instruction of Okisato Ogawa who was one of the survivors of Ueno War, it is a faichful picture to the historical fact unlike other color prints.
Hair Pagoda For Priest Tenkai (Metropolitan Historical Site)
Tenkai (1536-1643) was a high priest of the Tendai Sect at the beginning of the Edo Period. He was also known as Jigen Daisi. He took orders at age 11. At 14 he climbed Mt. Hiei and began formal training in the precepts of Tendai Buddhism. With the founding of the Tokugawa bakufu government at Edo (Currently Tokyo) , Tenkai received the favor of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Upon the death of Ieyasu, he was permitted to take a saintly name in order to deify the Tokugawa founding shogun. At roughly the same time the basic designs of the shrine at Nikko were being laid out and Tenkai served as an advisor in its construction. Following this, he also benefited from the attention of both Shoguns Hidetada and Iemitsu and was installed at the newly built Kaneiji Temple in 1625 for the spiritual protection of Edo Castle.
In 1643, at the age of 108 he passed away at Hongakuin Temple, a branch temple of Kaneiji, and as ordered, was buried on Mt. Nikko. A pagoda to commemorate him was built at this site, and later, priest of Hongakuin built a second pagoda in order to house a lock of his hair. Thus this pagoda has come to be called the Hair Pagoda.
Within the grounds of Ueno Tokyo Metropolitan Park are the clustered ruins of Ueno Shinobugaoka. Containing archeological sites spanning from the Jomon era ( ca. 8000-300 B.C. ) up through the early modern period ( 17th -mid 19th centuries ) , this area was once part of the Kaneiji Temple complex. The actual ruins are located along the southeast edge of the Ueno plateau. From 1634 this was part of a branch temple of Kaneiji-Joshoin-however in 1678 it became Ryounin Temple. From the middle of the 18th century, Ryounin came to serve as the burial site for the three powerful houses of the Tokugawa bakufu ; the Tayasu, Hitotsubashi,and Shimizu families.
During an excavation in 1998 it was discovered that the northeast side of this site contained terrace and an underground chamber etc. in 17th century. The remains are thought to be associated with Joshoin. In 19th century the north side was leveled in order to make a graveyard. Relics recovered from the underground chamber include Chinese porclean, copper lamps, and unglazed hajishitsu plates embossed with pine-bamboo and crane-turtle motifs.
Remains from early Jomon, latest Yayoi ( 3th ) , later Kofun ( 6th-7th ) ,Nara ( 710-794 ) , and Heian ( 794-1192 ) periods have been discovered, including the carbonized roof from a Kofun period dwelling that burned down. From the remains of the house fire, unglazed hajiki cups and kinkan ( gold and silver embossed bronze earrings ) have been recovered.