[Image of the Toba Detached Palace with its large lake and garden]
Toward the end of the Heian Period former Emperor Shirakawa built a majestic villa here (called Toba Dono or Toba Rikyu) from which he ruled in retirement. It was probably finished around 1087 - there were north, east and west halls, water pavilions, etc. The district thus became an important political and cultural center - it was as if the capital had been moved here, remarked one commentator.
Just like in Okazaki Park, there is nothing left of former glory in this area. All grand architecture and richness has vanished from the face of the earth. When walking here from Takeda Station on the subway and Kintetsu lines, after a residential area you will mainly encounter warehouses, distribution centers and, around the southern ramp of the Meishin highway system cutting through the landscape, a huge cluster of love hotels.
[Cluster of exuberant love hotels near the southern ramp of the highway to Kyoto]
In short, the seamy side of the modern city. There are even some plots of vegetables between the love hotels, showing that some old farmers are still defending the castle of Japanese agriculture, although I would not want to eat their products.
[Tomb of Emperor Konoe with pagoda]
The tomb of Emperor Konoe, the least important of the Retired Emperors as he died at age sixteen, is the most beautiful. Its stands in a quiet corner next to Anrakujuin Temple and is crowned by a two-storied pagoda. An imperial grave that has kept its Buddhist colors - in fact, so-called Shinto burials with embalmed bodies were an invention of the Meiji Period, from the late 7th to 19th century all imperials burials were carried out according to Buddhist rites (i.e. cremation).
[Anrakujuin and its azaleas]
Anrakujuin Temple itself was originally set up by Retired Emperor Toba in 1137 in the grounds of his villa. It owns an Amida statue that was the subject of personal devotions by Emperor Toba - the statue now is housed in a concrete storehouse that is fenced off and closed.
[Monuments in the garden of Anrakujuin]
The temple itself lost its luster in the Edo-period, despite an attempt at restoration by the Toyotomi family - the pagoda was rebuilt by them in 1606. The only interesting thing I saw were some scattered stone statues and monuments and the blooming azalea bushes.
[Kitamukisan Fudoin, the North-facing Fudo Hall]
Nearby Kitamukisan Fudoin Temple stands next to another imperial tomb, that of Emperor Toba himself. The temple is dedicated to the Fudo cult and has many modern Fudo statues in its cramped grounds.
[Stone Fudo statue in the grounds of Kitamukisan Fudoin Temple]
This temple was also set up inside Emperor Toba's villa, in 1130. The main image, a Fudo statue, faces north towards the capital (then Kyoto) in order to protect it and preserve the peace of the land. Here, too, the buildings are mostly modern.
[Tomb of Emperor Shirakawa]
The final tomb is that of Emperor Shirakawa. One of the great emperors of Japanese history lies in cramped grounds, next to a highway ramp, enclosed by ugly warehousing companies and the love hotels are only a stone's throw away. Is this another instance of "how the great have fallen?" or does it show the relative neglect of historical (yes, imperial) sites in modern Japan?
[Tomb of Emperor Shirakawa (the trees) seen from the back where drum cans and storage racks are kept; you can als spot the highway ramp]
The main feature of the Toba Detached Palace was its garden and the Jonangu shrine was set up in the area to reflect past landscaping glory. But that is for another post.
[Decidedly non-pastoral landscape on the way to the Jonangu Shrine]
The imperial tombs, Anrakujuin and Kitamukisan Fudoin are all a 10-min walk south-west of Takeda Station on the subway and Kintetsu lines. Walk south along the line and turn west at a sake shop where you also see the pagoda of the Konoe Tomb. From here, it is another 5 min south to the Jonangu Shrine