chapter  6
20 Pages

Layers of memory and devotion

Temples, shrines and pilgrimage in early modern Edo
WithBarbara R. Ambros

Prior to 1818, greater Edo, or the capital area, comprised the territory governed by the city magistrate. Initially limited to the inner city, the boundary had expanded amorphously over two centuries as the city magistrate gained control over suburban villages. Temples and shrines, by being peripheral to the status system, helped to demarcate this space. Temples and shrines - Kan'eiji, Zojoji, Kanda Myojin, Sanno Gongen, Sensoji and Gokokuji - developed into major urban landmarks and centres of neighbourhoods. Since Edo was a castle town, Edo's castle was of course the centre of the city. In addition to large monastic complexes, the landmarks of greater Edo included numerous famous shrines. The two most prominent city shrines were Kanda Myojin and Sanno Gongen. Among Edo's many landmarks, Sensoji and Gokokuji were two of the most popular pilgrimage centres, and both had large, bustling monzenmachi. Temples and shrines played important roles in demarcating and shaping Edo's urban space.