Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hideyoshi's Grave

When I first found out that I was supposed to find Hideyoshi’s grave, I thought it would be a very easy task.  I would just google search for it and the location would be right there.  I soon found out how wrong I was.  The exact location wasn’t posted on the web.  Or at least not anywhere I could find it.  What I had thought would be a simple task had turned into a much bigger problem, which made me quite happy that I hadn’t procrastinated.

The first thing I found out was the grave is not at the Toyokuni shrine like many people think it is.  So, that was one less place that I had to look.  But the only thing I knew was the grave was somewhere in Kyoto.  Not very useful, considering the size of the city.  A little more delving dug up the information that it is on Mount Amidagamine and has over four hundred stairs.  But I couldn’t find Mount Amidagamine on a map.  So that didn’t help at all.  Though by searching for the mountain I did find out that it has hiking trails.

Finally, the decisive piece of information: the entrance is just past Kyoto Women’s University.  That I could find on the map.  Using google maps, I searched for the university and switched to satellite view.  And sure enough, just past the university was a long, thin space up a mountain in-between all the trees.  Still, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that I had found what I was looking for.  I circled the spot on my map of Kyoto so I wouldn’t get lost, and hoped that I had found the right place.  After hearing what I was up to, one of my friends decided to tag along, well aware that I wasn’t sure if I had actually found the right place.  So the two of us headed out to Kyoto and I led the way past the women’s university.  And sure enough, we found ourselves at the bottom of a very long staircase.  I had located it correctly!
The bottom of the staircase.
We thought we knew what we were getting into, but climbing over four hundred stairs was not as easy as it sounded.  The stairs had two different heights, which made climbing them a little strange, but two stairs together was too much, so skipping every other stair wasn’t an option.
The middle of the stairs.
Finally we reached the top and were quite glad we wouldn’t have to climb any more stairs.  Of course, the thought of going back down that uneven staircase wasn’t exactly thrilling.  But we had reached our destination and I hadn’t gotten us lost.  So I’ll count that as a win.

The actual grave.
After heading back down we checked out the small gift shop that sold mostly charms of different types.  I’m glad we stopped there because the worker told us, in a mix of Japanese and broken English, that Hideyoshi was known, not just for his work in unifying Japan but also for his devotion towards his wife.  Because of this, the love charms from places devoted to him, especially his grave, are thought to work better than charms from other places.

There were not many other people visiting his grave that day.  I suppose it is mostly due to the immense amount of stairs.  While it is good to do visit at least once if you are in Japan, or at least near Kyoto, I am not surprised that most people go to the shrine to worship him instead of climbing all those stairs.  I’m just surprised that many people don’t know that he isn’t buried at the shrine.


古川 said...

This narrative of Hideyoshi as a doting husband is a new one and pretty funny to me. He was a well-known philanderer--Oda Nobunaga famously wrote a letter about this to Onene (Hideyoshi's wife). It's amazing what tales will be spun in order to sell a few trinkets!

David Whitacre said...

What a fun adventure (though maybe not while actually on the stairs). Thanks for sharing! Hideyoshi's Grave is going on my list of things I want to see in Kyoto. FWIW, I'm from the class of '92 and I've been following everyone's posts and enjoying them immensely.

Reid said...

Do you know why so many people think that Hideyoshi's grave is at Toyokuni shrine? I'm glad you were able to find out where it actually is (even if you had to go through quite a workout to get there)!

Eliza Alvarez said...

I'm not quite sure why people have the misconception. It might have to do with the ease of visiting. Or some people may think that 'commemorated' means he's buried there. If someone brings their kids to the shrine to pray but doesn't say that he is buried elsewhere, the kids could grow up thinking that's where he is buried. It's probably something like that.