East Gardens of the Imperial Palace


East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace.
On the day of our two-guided tours, 14th of July, we welcomed 38 guests from, India, Canada, Germany, U.K., Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, U.S., Spain, Israel, Philippine and Iran

The temperature rose up to around 35 degrees Celsius and stayed the same or rose even more in the afternoon. We started our two-hour tour from Tokyo Station in this harsh condition.

Tokyo Station was overlooking us, and it also seemed to warmly welcome our tour group, as it always does.
After a fifty-minute walk from Tokyo Station towards the direction of the East Garden of the Imperial Compound, where we were surrounded by the beautiful flora in the well-maintained and truly majestic garden.

At the Otemon Gate, the main gate of the Edo Castle, our guides usually explain about an ornament to tourists.
This ornament called Shachihoko and is believed to be a guardian and a protector of the castle from fire.
Countless incidents of fire occurrences have been recorded in the town of Edo, both major and minor ones. As this chart explains, some of them are so huge that it has left more than 100,000 casualties and severe damage to the town.
There is even an anecdote that says “Fires and quarrels were the highlights of Edo”.
As this anecdote mentions, dreadful fires and quarreling brought huge inconveniences and even misfortunes but provided some sort of entertainment to people’s lives.
Interestingly, some fire occurrence has somewhat romantic tale.
We would like to share you one of the topics, the story of Yaoya-oshichi.

In Edo era, from 1603 to 1861, people in Edo city, which was old Tokyo, commonly said that “Fires and Quarrels were the highlights of Edo”.
In other words, there were lots of notable fires and disputes in Edo City.
Under these circumstance, Yaoya Oshichi’s story was made.
Yaoya Oshichi literally meaning “greengrocer Oshichi”, was fourteen years old, and the daughter of a wealthy greengrocer, Tarobei.
They lived in Edo city at the beginning of the Edo period.
Unfortunately, Oshichi was burned at the stakes for committing arson.
Behind this incident, there were a lot of sadness and disparity, which inspired this young woman to drive to arsenal crime.
One day, the Oshichi’s family had their house burned by an accidental fire.
So, they temporally evacuated in some temple while they were reconstructing their new house.
In the evacuation facility, this young woman happened to meet a man, Saemon, and she fell in love with this young guy.
However, the time had come for her to leave there because her new home had already constructed.

After returning to her newly built house, the memories of the young girl were fully dominated by her romantic relationship with her loved one.
As a result, the next year, she set fire to her residence in order to attract Saemon’s attention, thinking she could meet him again if another fire occurred.
This fire was called “Oshichi Fire”, which resulted in around 3500 casualties in Edo city.
It was listed as one of the top ten serious fires in this historical town.
This may sound unbelievable in real life nowadays but throughout the ages, it is true that people can seriously be blinded of love.
This is why this story has been popularized in novels and Kabuki play as a romantic love story.
Nowadays, the soul of Oshichi is enshrines at Enjyoji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo and its memorial event is held annually.
(By Arac)