In the Taito district of the city of Tokyo, you can find endless wonderful places of historical and current nature. One of them is the great Ueno Park, famous for its cherry blossoms in spring.
In this beautiful park, there is a lake that seems magical called Shinobazunoike that changes shape according to the season of the year. In winter it is completely full of snow and semi-frozen. In spring it looks clean, clear and the image of the Benzaiten temple is reflected in the lake. In summer and autumn, the lake is filled with lotus flowers, giving a green and natural view. In the center of Shinobazunoike, there is a temple dedicated to the goddess of prosperity Benzaiten. Benzaiten is a goddess revered in both Buddhism and Shintoism, so you can find both temples and shrines dedicated to her throughout the country.
The temple is called Shinobazunoike Bentendo and was founded in the 17th century. The complex consists of a hexagonal shaped main structure with very elegant colors. Inside the temple, there is a small chapel where certain days a week people will listen to the monk’s words. In the background, you can see a powerful statue of the goddess Benzaiten. On the front, there is a ‘Gon’ that can be touched by a string so that the goddess listens carefully to the visitor’s requests.
In this part, there are also various ‘omamori’ for protection and wooden tablets where visitors write the wishes they want to be fulfilled and hang them outside the sanctuary on a special wall. At the entrance to this temple, at the beginning of the stairs, there is a small statue of a dragon. This would come to represent the goddess’s husband according to legend. In the front to the right side, there is a shamisen (Japanese instrument) referring to the instrument that the goddess plays to pacify souls.
In the same enclosure, there is another temple on the right side, a little more modest for those people who have slightly longer requests. Here you can also offer a stick of incense to purify the soul. There are several statues of the goddess and Buddha around the temple. This enclosure also has a small viewpoint from where you can see the lake and quietly enjoy a drink and observe the landscape. At nightfall, despite the fact that the temple is closed, it is illuminated by traditional Japanese lamps that are hung all over the front of the temple, thus giving an unparalleled brightness to the enclosure.