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Awaiting the Radiant Word
Zojoji Temple is the main temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism, built on its current site in 1598 as the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa’s family temple. Adjacent to the iconic Tokyo Tower, the temple’s main areas consist of the Sangedatsumon main gate, a two-storied structure built in 1622 which was one of the only structures in Tokyo spared in the Allied firebombing of World War II, the Daiden or main ceremonial hall, rebuilt in 1974 in an innovative modern-inflected traditional style which houses a large golden Buddha statue and several large ceremonial taiko drums, and the Tokugawa clan mausoleum featuring distinctive stupas as well as gorgeous cherry blossoms during early spring.
Another unique, touching feature of Zojoji is the rows of jizobosatsu (stone statues of Buddhist saints), which represent the protectors of the souls of stillborn children. Mothers who have lost an unborn child often dedicate an image of the deity and decorate it with baby clothes and toys such as colorful pinwheels.