A Guided Tour along the borders of Fuchu, Chofu and Mitaka
What a lovely sunny day for a guided tour around our beautiful neighborhood! 30 participants, 4 Fuchu City tour guides and 3 representatives from the Fuchu City Hall Tourism Division gathered at 9am at Tobitakyu Station to begin todays’ adventure.
We were welcomed by a breathtaking sight of sakura trees with green petals.
They are a rare green variety that has even Japanese people gasping in delight. This unusual variety of sakura has an equally unusual name: Gyoikou zakura (御衣黄桜(ギョイコウザクラ or 緑色の桜), and its name refers to the shade of green used in garments worn by aristocrats in the Heian Period (794-1185). The trees we saw were quite elusive, as the distinctive green flowers were at first mistaken for fresh new leaves from a distance. If you go to Tabitakyu Station at the moment, I highly recommend you to take a closer look at the trees around the station to see if you can spot any green flowers hiding amongst the branches. It is a great way to get the feeling of Japanese royalty, in sweetly succulent floral form!
Left in awe by green sakura we left for our first sightseeing spot - Yakushido Temple (薬師堂).
Located a 2-minute walk from Tobitakyu Station, this national cultural property is a great spot to check out while walking around town. The temple is dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaisajyaguru) - the Buddha of Medicine and Healing (Yakushi literally means Medicine Teacher) who offers medicine to people suffering from illness, and grants nourishment to the mind and body as he is said to cure mental and physical illnesses. Beside the temple, there is a grave of 松前意仙. He himself carved a stone statue of Yakushi Buddha, then he dug a hole beside the statue, entered it and he was chanting the sutra until he died. After his death, the grave was built by the villagers. In 1974, his remains were confirmed during the renovation of the grave and were buried once more.
Next we went past the Ajinomoto Stadium (Tokyo Stadium) in the directon of Isami Kondo’s birthplace in Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo (近藤勇生家跡), passing by a hokora (祠) - a miniature Shinto shrine dedicated to Isamu Kondo (近藤勇を祀った祠).
In front of the shrine, there is dojo (近藤道場撥雲館) － a hall used for martial arts training. Next to the shrine there is an ancient Ryugenji Temple.
This temple is known to have the grave of Kondo Isami (1834 － 1868), who was a Japanese swordsman and official of the late Edo period, famed for his role as commander of the Shinsengumi.
When going from the side of the main hall to the cemetery in the back, there is an explanation board near the entrance of the cemetery so everyone can understand immediately. Kondo had at least 4 graves. After his execution at the young age of 35, his headless body was brought over by his nephew Kondo Yugoro and buried there with his family. Although I felt sorry he was executed at the end, I think he was a hero of the late Edo period and his name will remain in the history.
If you are wondering what happened to his head, a grave mound containing Kondo's head was located behind the Hozoji temple at Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
Our guided tour continued to the Musashino Forest Park (武蔵野の森公園).
This beautiful and rustic park features a grassy plain and groves of trees, and is situated along the Nogawa River. We could observe a wide variety of trees while strolling around the park. A factory of a large military supplier, Nakajima Aircraft, once occupied the area that is now the park before World War II. After the war, the wishes of nearby residents came true and the area was reborn as a park.
There are mysterious structures in the Musashino Forest Park. Buildings that were dome-shaped and made of thick concrete, were military facilities called bunkers or aircraft hangars (掩体壕).
At the time of the Pacific War, they were an air defense shelters to protect aircrafts from air raids. About 30 concrete bunkers seem to have been made, but until now only 2 were left existing and are preserved as historical sites. On one of them, there is a picture of an aircraft which seems very realistic.
From the hill in the park we could see the Chofu Airport runway (調布飛行場) and there were a few aircrafts that flew over our head. I think the hill is the best spot for aviation photographers. The airport's main commercial activity is New Central Airservice commuter flights to the Izu Islands south of Tokyo.
We really enjoyed our guided tour thanks to our amazing tour guides! We would like to thank them from the bottom of our heart for their hard work. We definitely deepened our knowledge of the history of the neighborhood. We cannot wait for the next guided tour! See you there!