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At Ekoin temple in Ryogoku, there are many famous monuments, one of them are memorials for Mereki great fire (1657) or Kanto earthquake (1923). Hayagriva (Bato Kannon, horse head Kannon) was made for the memorial service of 4th Shogun Ietsuna Tokugawa’s favorite horse. Addition that, cat, chinese dogs, seals(?!), birds, and cats and dogs stone memorials were built. They have been folding a mass for many kinds of animals since Edo period, even now there are many pet owners visit to pray for their pet’s soul.

Ekoin temple, Ryogoku Tokyo

Ekoin temple locates in 5 minutes walk from JR Ryogoku station, Tokyo

cat and dog memorial

Cats and dogs memorial at Ekoin temple

The most popular thing of this temple may be the tomb of Nezumi Kozo (Nezumi means mouse, Kozo is boy or bantling), whose real name was Jirokichi (1797-1832), a famous chivalrous thief in the Edo period. He was said to steal so much money from Samurai Daimyo mansions about over 120 times, and could get 30,000 ryō money, and then gave them poor people as Robin Hood. Finally he caught and was beheaded after being dragged around Edo town, at that time Edo citizen bursted their way to see Nezumi Kozo because he was a hero for anti-authority for them. After his death, he became a hero of storytelling, kabuki theater and many novels. In fact, we cannot certify that he gave money to poor, some scholars said he might use them for wine, woman, and dice. But he has been popular among people stil now.

Description of Nezumi Kozo

Description of Nezumi Kozo at Asakusa

Nezumi Kozo on the roof at Asakusa

Nezumi Kozo on the roof at Asakusa

Nezumi Kozo's ukiyoe picture of kabuki play by 2nd Toyokuni Utagawa

Nezumi Kozo’s ukiyoe picture of kabuki play by 2nd Toyokuni Utagawa. He steals a chest containing one thousand pieces of gold (Senryo bako).

Tomb of Nezumi Kozo

People has been beleiving that they can win the gamble if they scratch by pebble to get a piece of Nezumi Kozo’s tomb stone. Now it is reputation that any candidates can enter any school he wants if he got the piece of tomb, because Nezumi(mouse) Kozo(boy) was able to enter any place, so his tomb became small and smaller. The temple made his another tomb (gray big tomb on the back), and little one was special for curbing (white smaller one).

On the side of Nezumi Kozo’s tomb, there is another memorial, it was for a cat, called “Neko duka” built in 1816. They have a well-known story: one fish dealer had got sick to go to bed for a long time, and naturally he had pinched for money. One day, a cat, lived with Mr. Tokita and fish seller had given foods this cat whenever he had visited Tokita, held two gold money to his house. He spent it to buy food and to see the doctor, and got well soon. Though he went to Tokita’s house, he couldn’t see that cat. Tokita’s family said, “Bad cat had stolen money, so we killed”. He was so astonished and mourned that he received a body and made its memorial at Ekoin temple. This story is one of animals repayment of kindness. They said “Neko ni Koban” (Cat has a gold money) for celebration of cat’s returning a favor. But this sentence meaning changed gradually from “requital of kindness” to proverb of “Casting pearls before swine”. I think original story is really good, but today’s proverb “Neko ni Koban” (Cat has gold money = Cat doesn’t need money) is sorry for this cat!

Neko duka (Cat memorial) at Ekoin temple

Neko duka (cat memorial) used not be covered by glass. Because many people had made mistake it as Nezumi Kozo’s tomb and scratched it, temple’s priest decided to protect by glass, so cat memorial’s stone was carved on the upper sides. Anyway, it is funny to see memorials of cat and mouse (Nezumi kozo) places next each other.

Real cat at Ekoin temple

Real cat at Ekoin temple. H/she was so tame.

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