The Imperial Mausolea of Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

Impressive understatement of the imperial kind

Kaiserliche Mausoleen von Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

Imperial Mausolea of Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

Eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
A German version of this posting you can find here.

With the Imperial Mausolea of Musashi* (武蔵陵墓地 / むさしりょうぼち), in Hachiōji (八王子 / はちおうじ), in the western part of Tōkyō, we are again visiting a place that automatically brings up the question: How is it possible that this sight almost unknown?

At least those interested in the more recent part of Japanese history, all those who share an interest in the worlds oldest dynasty and at least everyone who got tired of the hustle and bustle of the megapolis should flock to this place of tranquility and peace. Well, I guess at least tranquility would be adversely affacted by the flocks… Hence, let’s be glad it is the way it is…

*In olden days “Musashi” was the name of a province, now covered by the prefectures of Saitama, Tōkyō and a tiny corner of Kanagawa.

While the first emperor of the new era, the Meiji Tennō (明治天皇 / めいじてんのう), was still buried in the south of Kyōto, the old imperial city, in 1912, for his “successors” similar mausolea were erected in Tōkyō. Which was a logical consequence of the fact that also the imperial residence had been moved from Kyōto (京都 / きょうと) to Edo (江戸 / えど) – subsequently blessed with the new name “Tōkyō” (東京 / とうきょう) – during the reign of the Meiji Emperor.

The following mausolea are located on the compound (in historical order, if looked at from a geographical point of view: from West to East):

Kaiserliche Mausoleen von Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

Imperial Mausolea of Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

Name of the mausoleum: Tama no misasagi (多摩陵 / たまのみささぎ) = Imperial Mausoleum of Tama (Tama used to be a district in the western part of the old province of Musashi)
Shape of the mausoleum: dome-shaped knoll on a square base (上円下方)
Posthumous name of the entombed: Taishō-Tennō (大正天皇 / たいしょうてんのう)
Name: Yoshihito (嘉仁 / よしひと)
Born on August 31st, 1879, deceased on December 25th, 1926
Reign: 1912-1926

Name of the mausoleum: Tama no higashi no misasagi (多摩東陵 / たまのひがしのみささぎ) = Eastern Imperial Mausoleum of Tama
Shape of the mausoleum: dome-shaped knoll on a square base (上円下方)
Posthumous name of the entombed: Empress Teimei (貞明皇后 / ていめいこうごう)
Name: Sadako (節子 / さだこ)
Wife of the Taishō-Tennō
Born on June 25th, 1884, deceased on May 17th, 1951

Name of the mausoleum: Musashino no misasagi (武蔵野陵 / むさしののみささぎ) = Imperial Mausoleum at the Musashi Plain
Shape of the mausoleum: dome-shaped knoll on a square base (上円下方)
Posthumous name of the entombed: Shōwa-Tennō (昭和天皇 / しょうわてんのう)
Name: Hirohito (裕仁 / ひろひと)
Born on April 29th, 1901, deceased on January 7th, 1989
Reign: 1926-1989

Name of the mausoleum: Musashino no higashi no misasagi (武蔵野東陵 / むさしののひがしのみささぎ) = Eastern Imperial Mausoleum at the Musashi-Plain
Shape of the mausoleum: dome-shaped knoll on a square base (上円下方)
Posthumous name of the entombed: Empress Kōjun (番淳皇后 / こうじゅんこうごう)
Name: Nagako (長子 / ながこ)
Wife of the Shōwa-Tennō
Born on March 6th, 1903, deceased on June 16th, 2000

The areal draws its very special, almost mystical charm from a thick forest of tall, old trees of various kinds that is surrounding it. And the peaceful quietness mentioned above may also contribute to the remoteness of the place.

Be aware of the fact that this a place that is not only of importance for the those devoted to the emperor, but that is also a spiritual one and sacred for quite a few. What you may have learned about such places on this website (if you are able to read and understand German) comes in handy now: You won’t have to worry about “protocol” – you know what’s to be done! Perform your ritual ablutions (there is a purification basin at the end of the entrance area – see picture below), before you enter the actual mausolea site. Pay your respect to the deceased by bowing in front of the great wooden gates, torii (鳥居 / とりい) at the tombs – it will all contribute to your peace of mind. Try it! But don’t worry, nobody will harass you, should you decide – for whatever reason – not to pay ritual respect.

Kaiserliche Mausoleen von Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

Imperial Mausolea of Musashi (武蔵陵墓地) – purification basin

Give yourself at least 30 minutes for the visit to the mausolea, as the compound is a rather extensive one. But you may just as well spend much more time there, if the surrounding atmosphere appeals to you.

During my visit some substantial earth moving took place in the western part of the area. Obviously, they were working on the “last resting-places” for the present emperor (born 1933) and his whife (born 1934). Other than their predecessors the imperial couple wishes to be buried close to each other. Also the emperor has expressed his wish to be cremated like ordinary Japanese citizens (his predecessors were not cremated).

Kaiserliche Mausoleen von Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

Imperial Mausolea of  Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

How to get there:

Takao Todorimachi (高尾廿里町)

Takao Todorimachi (高尾廿里町)

Take the JR Chūō line (JR中央線 / JRちゅうおうせん) in western direction to Takao (高尾 / たかお).
Journey time from Shinjuku: 41 to 50 minutes (depending on which kind of train you take).
Fare from Shinjuku: 550 Yen

or

Take the Keiō line (京王線 / けいおうせん) from Shinjuku (新宿 / しんじゅく) to Takao (高尾 / たかお).
Journey time from Shinjuku: 45 to 53 minutes (depending on which kind of train you take).
Fare from Shinjuku: 360 Yen

At Takao station take the North Exit.
For those arriving by Keiō line, it takes a little of “navigation“ to get there, as the Japan Rail-part of the station needs to be crossed. However, that shouldn’t cause any trouble, as long as you take the “correct” gate (the “yellow” one) when you leave the Keiō-section of the station (have a look at the picture below).

Takao Bahnhof, Keiō-Linie (高尾駅、京王線)

Takao Bahnhof, Keiō-Linie (高尾駅、京王線)

On foot it’s about a 15 minute-walk from the station.

Walk the Takao Kaidō (高尾街道 / たかおかいどう) from the station in northern direction, cross the Kōshū Kaidō (甲州街道 / こうしゅうかいどう) with its gorgeous gingko trees…

Kōshū Kaidō (甲州街道)

Kōshū Kaidō (甲州街道)

… and the Minami Asa river (南浅川 / みなみあさかわ)…

… turn right at the next crossing and enter the residential area of Todorimachi (高尾廿里町).

Takao Todorimachi (高尾廿里町)

Takao Todorimachi (高尾廿里町)

Follow the street for about 300 metres until you reach an underpass to cross an elevated road (Machida Kaidō / 町田街道 / まちだかいどう). On the other side of this elevated road you’ll see the concrete fence that surrounds the mausolea site (south-east side of it). After another roughly 350 metres you’ll reach the entrance to the imperial mausolea on the east side of the compound.

Opening hours:

Daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (last entry at 3:30 p.m).
Even though the imperial mausolea can be visited every day, it is possible that the site remains closed on special occasions.

Free admission.

Not far away:

Takao-san (高尾山)
– A (sometimes) crowded hideaway

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2 Responses to The Imperial Mausolea of Musashi (武蔵陵墓地)

  1. […] englische Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier. An English version of this posting you can find […]

  2. […] With its more than 920 years of history, the Konnō Hachimangū is surely one of the oldest in Tōkyō – which is even more astounding, if one keeps in mind that there wasn’t any really considerable settlement around the shrine’s grounds until about 150 years ago. At that time, Shibuya (渋谷 / しぶや) was a place far outside the gates of Edo/Tōkyō – most likely, they didn’t even grow rice around here. But be that as it may, it is a fact that the since the year  1092 AD the spirit of the Ōjin-Tennō ( 応神天皇 / おうじんてんのう), more commonly known with his “divine” name, “Hachiman” (八幡 / はちまん), has been worshipped here. The Ōjin-Tennō is said to have lived from 200 AD to 310 AD and is, since the death of this mother, the Empress Jingū (270 AD), regarded as the 15th Tennō of Japan. Those of you who have read one of my last postings (Sumiyoshi Taisha) carefully know: This Empress Jingū is said to be the “founding mother” of the Sumiyoshi shrines – not half bad either, as a mother… The Ōjin-Tennō’s body has been entombed in one of the biggest mausolea of Japan in the Ōsaka prefecture – not much unlike the mausolea of the Emperors of modern times. […]

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