The Inokashira Park from western Tokyo hosts one of the oldest and best known temples from Tokyo, dedicated to Benzaiten. Benzaiten is the Japanese name of the Hindu goddess Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, music and arts, who’s cult was brought to Japan by Chinese Buddhist monks, during the centuries 6-8.
During the 10th century, a samurai from the Minamoto clan, Minamoto no Tsunemoto, grandson of Emperor Seiwa, brought to Inokashira a portrait of the goddess. Later, in 1197, one of his descendants, Minamoto no Yoritomo, built here a temple dedicated to Benzaiten.
There is a beautiful ukiyo-e painting by Hiroshige, Benzaiten Shrine at Inokashira in Snow which shows us how the temple looked 150 years ago. With a small change on the roof, the temple looks the same and even the red arched bridge is on the same place:
Benzaiten Temple, Inokashira, Tokyo
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: Nezumi Kozo, a Japanese Robin Hood