Finding Kitaro…

On April 20th, after visiting Inokashira Park and the Ghibli Museum, I took a walk. It was a planned, hour-long walk, which had grown out of a very random conversation I once had with a student. Some months ago, I noticed a curious phone-charm hanging from my student’s phone and commented on it. She suddenly burst into a story of how she got it at this really weird “monster temple in Tokyo” which her sister had taken her to. She told me the temple had some connections to a comic and, based on that, I managed to find out more information by Googling. I actually need to give a massive shout-out to Hamadayama Life, where I found out most of the information I needed to plan my mini-adventure. Thanks for the great post! ๐Ÿ™‚

My destination was Jindaiji, which is a temple not so far away from the Ghibli Museum. When I say that, I did have to walk for about an hour to get there, but on the way back I did discover that there were buses that went directly to Mitaka and Kichijoji stations.ย Finding it was not easy, and I relied heavily on my phone’s GPS to actually locate the temple. However, in hindsight, it would have been much easier to have just gone back to a station and taken the bus, but I didn’t know that at the time and I enjoyed the walk anyway.

Jindaiji

Once I found this small area of shops, I thought I must be close. Then I spotted a sign saying ๆทฑๅคงๅฏบ (Jindaiji) and felt quite relieved.

According to the Chofu area Wiki page, Jindaiji is “nearly the oldest temple in the Tokyo area, secondย only to Sensoji in Asakusa. Although the temple building itself is modest, the surrounding village of food stands, soba restaurants and waterwheels evokes an image of Edo-period Japan, and makes Jindaiji Temple a hidden gem in suburban Tokyo. The temple complex houses a bronze statue of Shaka Nyorai, a Buddha. The statue is said to date from around 700, and is housed in a separate concrete building.

There are two main buildings at Jindaiji, and all the usual things you would expect to find at a temple (ema, sleepy cats, dragons, statues…):

Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

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Temple cat

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Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

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Jindaiji

I believe that last one must beย Shaka Nyorai.

The temple seemed really old, and the whole area felt like it was caught in a bit of a time-warp.

Near Jindaiji

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Near Jindaiji

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Near Jindaiji

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Near Jindaiji

There were some interesting statues in the area:

Statue

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Statue

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Statue

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Jindaiji

In amongst all the oldy-worldy temple stuff, I suddenly spotted what I was really looking for – monsters!

GeGeGe no Kitaro

Quoting from Hamadayama Life, “Recently Chofu, the municipality where Jindaiji is located, became famous because of an early-morning TV drama series: a drama featuring the wife of a famous spirit-monster manga artist Mizuki Shigeru. The figures of his manga “GeGeGe no Kitaro” decorated a pedestrian way near Chofu station. Some scenes of the drama were also taken in Jindaiji.” (4th Nov 2010)

So that explains why Jindaiji has this strange connection with GeGeGe no Kitaro, but if you didn’t know that I think you would think the whole place rather odd!

GeGeGe no Kitaro

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GeGeGe no Kitaro

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GeGeGe no Kitaro

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GeGeGe no Kitaro

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GeGeGe no Kitaro

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GeGeGe no Kitaro

I had never heard of GeGeGe no Kitaro before this adventure, nor had I heard of Shigeru Mizuki. But I loved the characters I saw, and found myself quite drawn to some of the goods in the gift shop. bizarrely, there was a range of Hello Kitty goods. I couldn’t resist…

Goods bought at GeGeGe no Kitaro store

The shop staff gave me a whole bunch of free monster cookies, too. Excellent!

I’ve been saying “monsters” throughout this post, but really I should have said “yokai“, which can be demons, spirits or monsters. The ones featured in GeGeGe no Kitaro seem quite cute, but I get the impression they come in all shapes and sizes, just like Western monsters.

Are you a fan of yokai? Can you recommend any movies or comics I should try? Does anyone know if GeGeGe no Kitaro is available in English? (If not, I’ll have to make it one of my Japanese goals…)

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This post is an entry for this week’s Show Me Japan. Don’t forget to check out all the others! ๐Ÿ™‚

11 thoughts on “Finding Kitaro…

  1. Watching the movie “The Great Yokai War” was quite enjoyable. And am lucky Gegege no kitaro series is subbed to English in the Animax channel over here. ^^

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  2. I saw a double box set of the Kitaro (live action) movies on sale in HMV this week. You might have a harder time getting a TV series, and it probably wouldn’t have subs.
    Although it seems most things are just a search away on the Internet.

    Pink Tentacle has a great collection of yokai illustrations (search for yokai)
    I especailly like these 1970s ones
    http://pinktentacle.com/2010/07/macabre-kids-book-art-by-gojin-ishihara/

    and I was interested that the Kitaro anime goes back a long way

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  3. Kiiiiitaaaarroooooo KITTY!!???
    Love it.
    I’ve been familiar with GeGeGe for a while, since a friend of mine has loved it forever and I was convinced to watch the first Kitaro film (cute actors will always win me over, no matter how bad the live action is), but… this is the first time I’ve ever seen a Kitaro Kitty! That in itself is enough to convert me. ๐Ÿ˜›
    Love the other pics of the area, definitely seems like you stepped back in time there.
    But…ใ‚„ใฃใฑใ‚Š Kitaro Kitty won my heart. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Like

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