- Aug 05, 2019
I’ve been on the lookout for any interesting news about Buddhist temples in the Tokyo area since we’ve started talking in the office about putting together a video series on idiosyncratic temples around town. I read a Japan Times article about Zensho-an, a Rinzai Zen temple in Yanaka that caught my attention recently. Every August, Zensho-an puts on display a collection of yureiga, scroll paintings depicting ghosts and apparitions. The scroll paintings were originally collected by Sanyutei Encho, a late Edo-era rakugo performer. It seems as though there are a number of theories floating around about why he collected these particular paintings. When I visited the exhibit some of the pieces struck me as especially disturbing, to the extent that they were unpleasant to be around. All the pieces were beautiful, but it felt like there was some bad energy associated with some of them. Although that may have just been because of my oversensitivity to anything horror related. It would be interesting to know more about the history of the collection and some of the individual scroll paintings. My vague understanding is that some yurei depictions were created to ward off the pictured ghost, while others are supposedly haunted themselves. In general, I’m curious about the history behind supposedly haunted sites in Tokyo, especially when they have a religious connection, i.e. the story is attached to a temple. I remember passing another site in Taito City that was also connected to a ghost story. Apparently, the particular jizo statue that I’m referring to would speak to people as they walked by and the heavy iron hat it wore would move on its own occasionally. It would be fun to collect some stories of hauntings across Tokyo and figure out what Buddhist thought has to say about it.