Feels like the entire world is under the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic; but we saw beautiful cherry blossoms this past Spring in the Yutenji temple area like we have seen many times in the past. Located not too far from the Yutenji station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, the temple of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism, has over 300 years of history. Just by looking at the majestic trees of cherry blossoms by the temple you can feel the long existence of the Yutenji.
Normally, there are more people, including kids visiting the temple during the cherry blossom season but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were surprisingly few people in the temple in April.
Yutenji is the temple of Jodo Shinshu (i.e. Pure Land Buddhism) and its head temple of the Buddhist sect is Chion-in temple in Kyoto. The temple is dedicated to Amida Buddha and Yuten Shonin. Inside the temple is quite spacious and is loved and visited by locals.
The temple had a strong connection with the Tokugawa family. When 36th head of Zojo-ji, Tokugawa family’s temple, named Yuten became ill, his Buddhist disciple, Yukai was looking for a place to pray to Amida Buddha. However, Yuten, who strongly wished to build a mausoleum in Meguro, unfortunately passed away in 1718. Having worked toward the Tokugawa Shogunate to make the Yuten’s wish come true, Yukai finally was able to build Yutenji temple in 1723 in Meguro.
The entrance was built in 1817 after 100 years from when Yuten passed away. As the temple had strong connections with the Tokugawa family, the Amida statue and the Deva gate in the temple were dedicated by the fifth shogun of Tokugawa family, Tsunayoshi Tokugawa’s daughter, Takehime.
In the precincts of the temple, there are other items such as the temple’s bell that were dedicated by the wife of the sixth shogun of Tokugawa family.