Hello. My name is Sake and Rocks (@saketorocks), born in Aizu.
Suddenly, I recommend a tour of the tombs when it comes to Aizu sightseeing spots.
Of course, if it is your first time in Aizu, you cannot miss visiting places of interest such as Aizu Sazae-do (Entsu Sanzodo), Iimoriyama with Byakkotai’s grave, and samurai residences.
You can also indulge in gourmet foods such as the famous “Sauce Katsudon” (pork cutlet served on top of a bowl of rice) or Kitakata Ramen ramen noodles.
However, in the sense that it is only a “a well-kept-secret place ” a tour of the tombs is sure to give you a full appreciation of Aizu history and depth.
Tracing the graves of Aizu samurai and historical characters who played an active role in the Boshin War is exceptional if you are a history buff.
Therefore, this time, we visited Tennei-ji Temple, one of the best places for sightseeing in Aizu.
- Aizu’s Best Place: Tenneiji Temple, the resting place of Isamu Kondo, the leader of the Shinsengumi (the Shinsengumi)
- Extra: Suehiro Sake Brewery, Shinsengumi Memorial Museum and Hajime Saito’s grave.
- Summary of Aizu Sightseeing
Aizu’s Best Place: Tenneiji Temple, the resting place of Isamu Kondo, the leader of the Shinsengumi (the Shinsengumi)
Tennei-ji Temple is known for the grave of Isamu Kondo, captain of the Shinsengumi. Take a sightseeing bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu and get off at “Nurougamae”.
The entrance should be easy to find as there is an information sign posted right near the bus stop.
Pass through a residential area and climb up a narrow mountain road. It is a narrow road that is a bit unforgiving to drive on. In summer, bears have been seen in this area, so it is somewhat thrilling.
Climbing up to the parking lot of the temple, you can see the Aizu Basin. It is even more pleasant if the weather is clear.
At the entrance of Tennei-ji Temple, there was a signboard that mentioned that Isamu Kondo’s grave was located there. The “嗚呼” in “Aha, Shinsengumi Captain Isamu Kondo” is good!
Since time is often limited when traveling and there are few opportunities to carefully read these explanatory signs, I am blogging about them.
Isamu Kondo, the leader of the Shinsengumi, ran out of strength in Chiba during the Boshin War and was finally captured and beheaded by the enemy Satcho clan.
His body was buried at Ryugenji Temple in Mitaka City, Tokyo, but his head was put downstream from the Sanjo Ohashi Bridge in Kyoto. It is said that someone took Kondo’s head at that time and buried it here.
This grave was built by the Aizu clan.
During the reign of Lord Yoho of the Aizu domain as Protector of Kyoto, the Shinsengumi was under his control and did its best to serve the Shogunate.It is also said that when Hijikata Toshizo came to Aizu and participated in battle, he paid homage to this grave.
The headstone bears the Buddhist name “Kantenin-dono Junchu Sincerity Great Resident” and the family crest of the Kondo family in three stripes on a circle above the name. A graveside service is held every year on April 25, the anniversary of his death.
As we followed the path leading to the back of the temple with the precincts on the side, we found a grave at the end of the path. Tennei-ji Temple is a historic temple built about 600 years ago (1422). Perhaps that is why there are so many graves.
Were all the graves of families that had lost their gravediggers gathered together? The gravestones were lined up tightly by the side of the road with no space between them. I wonder how many years old these graves are.
Considering the long history of the world, the number of the dead must be far greater than the number of the living. When I think of this, I am painfully reminded that life is truly short.
We cannot waste even a single day.
A sacred place where the spirit of the Aizu samurai resides.
When you reach the place where the first grave is located, the first thing that catches your eye is a stone monument inscribed with the words “Aizu samurai spirit”.
This monument was erected on the grave of Mitsugu Saotome, the author of the historical novel “Aizu Shikon” (The Spirit of Aizu), and these words were written by Saotome. I like it. I will read “Aizu Shikon” right away!
We join hands with Mr. Saotome at his grave to thank him for sharing the history of Aizu with us. The tombstone is cool too.
So, I look around to see where Isamu Kondo’s grave is…
There was a sign posted with directions to follow the path. One more shot, since the photo was skewed.
The paths are not paved, you know. So you may want to avoid the visit itself if the weather is bad. I’m glad I’m a sunny guy!
I assumed that the graves were just ahead, but my destination was still ahead of me.
I was surprised to see that it is quite a mountain path. It was almost like climbing a mountain.
Continue further up. I am so glad it was not raining!
Since we have climbed above the parking lot, we can see the town from the shade of the trees. It is hard to tell from the photo, but you can see from earlier that it is quite a high place.
Can you spot Tsurugajo from the shade of the trees? A signboard was put up.
A little further down the hill from the previous point, an open area came into view.
This is a well-kept-secret spot in Aizu: Tomb of Isamu Kondo
Wow! It looks like I can see Isamu Kondo’s grave. Being a fan of the Shinsengumi, I was a bit moved!
I will once again clean up the explanatory signs that I always read obliquely. Punctuation marks, etc. will be added and noted for easy reading.
He was born on October 9, 1834 in Chofu City, Tokyo, the third son of Kyujiro Miyagawa, a local samurai. His childhood name was Katsuta. He set up a dojo at home, and at the age of 15, he began substitute training for Shusuke Kondo of the Shizen Rishin-ryu school. At the time, he was well known in his hometown as the “Kirinji” of Kondo’s followers.
When Katsuta was 17 years old, his master Shusuke Kondo begged his father Kyujiro Miyagawa to adopt him as his heir.
He changed his name to Isamu, mastered the art of swordsmanship, and succeeded to the Shoeikan.
The school was headed by Soji Okita, Toshizo Hijikata, Keisuke Yamanami, Sanosuke Harada, Heisuke Todo, and Genzaburo Inoue, with Shinpachi Nagakura as a guest.Later, they went to Kyoto and became the parent organization of the Shinsengumi.
The Shin-Sen-Gumi was active for five years, from 1863 to 1867.
The most famous of these is the Ikedaya riot during the heyday of the Shinsengumi.On June 20, 1864, based on the confession of Shuntaro Furutaka, a volunteer in the audience, the Shinsengumi set fire to the Kyoto Imperial Palace and plotted to take back the Imperial Court to Choshu. The Shinsengumi, who had gathered at Ikeda-ya, were in the midst of their plotting when they were detected by the Shinsengumi and mobilized, resulting in a tragedy that would remain unforgettable for generations to come.
The Shinsengumi then took up guard duty at the Battle of Fushimi-Toba, but were defeated before new weapons, and those who gathered in Edo by sea formed the Koyo Chinatsu-tai.They were again defeated at the Battle of Katsunuma and then gathered in Nagareyama.
Isamu Kondo changed his name to Yamato Okubo and went into hiding, but was arrested on a tip-off. By strict order, he was beheaded, leaving behind a poem.
It is said that the head of a Shinsengumi captain, who was under the direct control of the Aizu governor, was buried by his deputy, Hijikata Toshizo, in the castle of Lord Matsudaira Yoritomo.
A stone monument with a deathbed poem inscribed on it was also erected.
The army was isolated, reinforcements were running out, and I was a prisoner. Tears flowed even more when he remembered the Lord’s concern for him. He is a martyr to the cause of sectionalism with loyalty that overflows all over his face. Zhang Jun, a loyal retainer of the Tang Dynasty, is my comrade.
I have nothing to say by flattering my enemies. To renounce life and take up righteousness is what I respect. I will gladly accept beheading. I will repay the Lord’s favor with a single death.
modern translation reference：Tactical-Media
I could never understand how he repaid the Lord’s favor with a single death. It must have been an uncanny resolve.
In front of the grave, there was a “blood plum” planted that Isamu Kondo loved. Its name seems to have come from its bright red color, as if the blood that cuts the branches oozes out.
This is the headstone of Isamu Kondo. On the gravestone, there was the Buddhist name “貫天院殿純忠誠義大居士（Kantenin-dono Junchu Sincerity Gishi Daijishi）” and the family crest of the Kondo family in a circle with a three-pronged drawer above it.
It says that he graduated on April 25, Keio 4 Boshin. The year Keio 4 is 1868. More than 150 years ago. April 25 is the anniversary of Isamu Kondo’s execution.
Next to it, a stone monument to Hijikata Toshizo, who was Isamu Kondo’s right-hand man, was also erected. It was previously a wooden monument, but was replaced with a stone monument in 2020.
Hijikata Toshizo…the name itself is cool.
Hijikata-san spent about three months recuperating here at Tennei-ji Temple, and it is said that he built Kondo’s tomb during this time. He asked Lord Matsudaira Yoho, the lord of the Aizu domain, to do so. What kind of expression did he have on his face when he went to talk to Lord Matsudaira?
Highlights include the tombs of the Tanaka family of Aizu retainers and Kayano Gonbei.
After praying to Isamu Kondo, I also laid my hands on the grave of the Tanaka family, a retainer of the Aizu domain. The Tanaka family’s grave was located a little further down the mountain, tucked away.
The grave in the middle is probably that of Genkoh, father of Tanaka Genzai, a well-known retainer in the late Edo period. Although the grave looks small, it is actually a magnificent headstone with a thick girth.
The grave of Tanaka Genzai. However, I have no idea what kind of blood lineage Tanaka Genzai is related to…. So I looked it up.
The first generation of the Aizu domain in the Tanaka family was Tanaka Masagen (1613-1672), the son of Tanaka Seienemon Masanaga (Genju and Seiroku) (-1614), whose father served as a deputy of the Sado gold mine. He appears to have been the guardian of Tokugawa Ietsuna, the fourth shogun of the Edo shogunate.
This was followed by Genchu, Genchikaku, Genken, Genko, Genzai, and Tosa Genkiyo. In other words, the earlier grave may be that of Genzai’s grandfather.
Incidentally, he left behind “13 Articles of the Tanaka Shogen Family Precepts,” and it seems that these family precepts were later succeeded by the “Tithing Code” taught and handed down at Nisshinkan.
Article 13 of the Tanaka Shogen Family Precepts
1. Respect the Gods and Ancestors
2. Do not behave disrespectfully toward superiors.
3. Do not tell lies.
4. Do not behave in a cowardly manner.
5. Do not bully the weak.
6. Do not do what is not right
7. Rely on yourself, not on others
8. Suit yourself to your own strength for food, clothing, and shelter
9. Do not flatter others
10. Before condemning others, reflect on yourself first
11. Don’t let others bring you down, even if they bring you down.
12. Do not forget to repay your benefactor in some way.
13. Do not do anything that will cause others to suspect you.
Any member of the family who disobeys the above-mentioned
Rule of the Aizu Samurai
You must not disobey your elders.
You must bow to your elders.
Do not tell lies.
Do not act cowardly.
Do not bully the weak.
Do not eat outside.
Do not exchange words with women outside the house.
What is not to be done is not to be done
It is also fun to investigate these questions.
Tenneiji Temple also contains the graves of Kayano Choshu, an Aizu retainer who took full responsibility for Aizu and committed suicide, and his son Koori Nagamasa. It is like an all-star cemetery of historical characters.
We found the grave by following a slightly steeper trail than the one we had just taken.
Something was written on the stone monument. I will clean it up!
The founder of the Kayano family of Aizu was Naganori Kayano Gonbei. He moved to Aizu as a senior vassal of Kato Yoshiaki, but after Kato Yoshiaki’s heir, Akinari, was exiled to Iwami, he was summoned by Hoshina Masayuki, who had entered the Aizu domain after serving in the Takato domain and then the Mogami domain as the lord of Aizu.
Naganori died in 1666 at the age of over 80 and was buried at Tennei-ji Temple. His descendants also devoted themselves to the prosperity of the Aizu domain from generation to generation, and Tennei-ji Temple became the family temple of the Kayano family.
Of particular note are Choshu Gombei IX and his second son Nagamasa. Choshu, who bore sole responsibility for the horrific Boshin War, committed seppuku on behalf of the feudal lord and all feudal warriors on May 18, 1869, at the Iino clan’s residence in Edo (Tokyo).
He was 42 years old.In 1801, after the Boshin War, Koori Nagamasa studied at Ikutoku-kan, a school of the Ogasawara domain in Toyotsu-cho, present-day Fukuoka Prefecture, as one of seven boys from the domain selected for the restoration of Aizu’s teaching and learning.
Nagamasa was the smallest of the three, but excelled in both literary and military arts. He was 16 years old at the time.
The Ogasawara clan mourned the death of Nagamasa and erected a tomb facing the direction of Aizu to honor his spirit. In October 1956, Fukuoka Prefectural Toyotsu High School, the successor to Ikutoku-kan, built a memorial garden on campus with two stones from Aizu in honor of Chomasa Gun, which is still in place today. This garden should serve as a model for higher education throughout Japan. The town of Toyotsu holds a grand ceremony in front of the grave of Gunchocho on May 1, the anniversary of his death every year, for which the Aizu Warrior Spirit Association is very grateful.
The Aizu Shikonkai hereby dedicates its sincerity to the kind wishes of Mr. Yoshikiyo Amanome (Heiko), a philanthropist living in Tokyo, and to the spirit of the Aizu Shikon, and pays deep respect to the Kayano family and their family members by erecting a statue of Kannon Bosatsu (Goddess of Mercy) to enshrine their souls.
But which one is the grave of whom?
Is it around here? Since time was limited, we joined hands and hurried homeward.
It was quiet, but not a lonely place. Tennei-ji Temple was such a place. It is truly one of the best places in Aizu. The scenery is also wonderful.
Extra: Suehiro Sake Brewery, Shinsengumi Memorial Museum and Hajime Saito’s grave.
During my visit to Aizu, I really wanted to visit the Suehiro Sake Brewery, the nearby Shinsengumi Memorial Museum, and the grave of Hajime Saito, a former member of the Shinsengumi.
So we arrived at the Suehiro Sake Brewery. It is a tasteful building that looks like a sake brewery. If you have time, you can take a free tour of the brewery and sample a variety of sake at the end! This time we had a car, so we had to be patient. The parking lot is free and spacious!
The purpose is to buy “Aizu Takada Ume Umeshu (plum wine)” here.
The first time I drank it was when I toured a sake brewery. Please try it.
Next, we went to the Shinsengumi Memorial Hall. The museum has a very interesting appearance for fans of the Shinsengumi! We quickly passed through the curtain and went inside…. I didn’t take any pictures of the inside, but there were many coveted valuables lined up in a small space. It was quite enjoyable!
A few minutes further on foot from the Shinsengumi Memorial Museum is the Amida Temple. You can walk there while sightseeing in Nanokaicho, so you won’t feel the distance.
When we entered from the back, we found the remains of Tsurugajo, the castle of Tsurugajo, which is called Gosangai.
Built in the Edo period, it was located in the main building of Tsurugajo until the beginning of the Meiji era (1868), when it was moved to this location. Although the exterior has three floors, the interior has four floors, with a narrow room with a ceiling between the second and third floors; the ladder to the third floor is pulled up from the top to prevent those without business from going up, and it is thought to have been used as a secret meeting place at that time. It also served as a lookout or observatory from where it was cut off from the square stone wall northeast of the main circle. It has been used as the main hall for a long time since the Amida Temple was lost in the fires of the Boshin War. The karahafu (Chinese gables) at the limits were arranged from a part of the entrance of the Honmaru Goten in the field. It is the only valuable building that remains as the remains of Tsurugajo.
This is the grave of Hajime Saito. It seems that he passed away in September 1915. His name was changed to Hajime Saito and his name was changed to Goro Fujita.
He and his wife Tokio-san, who was also in the historical drama “Yae no Sakura”, were inscribed side by side on the tombstone. Ms. Tokio was a childhood friend of Yae Niijima. It was Ms. Tokio who cut Yae’s hair during the siege. The matchmaker between Hajime Saito and Ms. Tokio was the lord of the Aizu domain, Lord Matsudaira Yoho.
The grave of a great member of Shinsen-Gumi, Hajime Saito（Goro Fujita）
Hajime Saito was born in 1844. He joined the Shinsen-Gumi in 1863. He was the captain of the 3rd troop. He also took part in the Ikedaya riot, which was a turning point in their career. After the end of the shogunate, the Boshin Civil War started. The Aizu clan fought against the Choshu and the Satsuma clans. The Aizu area was one of the war fronts then. During the Boshin Civil War , the head of the Shinsen-Gumi, Isami Kondo, passed away and the vice-head, Toshizo Hijikata, was injured. Hajime Saito became the next head of the Shinsen-Gumi and took command of the army protecting the Aizu area. Following the formation of the Meiji government, hi changed his name to Goro Fujita and joined the police troops. In 1873, Saito married Tokio Takagi, who was the daughter of an important Aizu official. He passed away in 1915, and now he sleep here, in Amida-ji Temple, by his request.
We concluded by placing our hands together at the Aizu War Grave, which is embossed with the golden hollyhock emblem.
Summary of Aizu Sightseeing
Although it was in the middle of the Golden Week holidays, there were no crowds at the places we visited this time, and we were able to tour around the tombstones calmly. I think it was one of the best places to visit in Aizu, where you can enjoy sightseeing in peace and quiet.