Tokyo Daytripper: Iko-ji Temple Benten Cave

Even though I’ve now been in Tokyo for over a decade I still love seeking out new and unknown places to write about here on Tokyo Fox. You win some, you lose some and though this one is probably closer to the latter, it was still an interesting experience of sorts just to go searching for it.

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Having sought out the “Eye on Shinjuku” I then took the train to Keio Yomiuri Land using some train tickets given to me by a student which enable me to travel anywhere along the Keio Line for free. The only other time I’ve visited this area was with Ethan back in September 2007 when we visited the Yomiuri Land theme park which includes both swimming pool and old-fashioned roller-coasters among it’s attractions. It was here that I did my fourth and final bungee jump but that’s another story.

This trip was in hope of finding an interesting temple that a student told me about. This is the same student who told me of a few other places I’ve blogged about in the last year or so. He specialises in b-grade attractions which is music to my ears.

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The map from a Japanese website took me to a wrong temple but luckily there was an elderly couple on hand to point me in the vague direction of where the cave was. It didn’t take me too long to find it just off the main road I’d crossed. The place was completely deserted both outside and in. Then I saw that the entrance to the cave was gated and completely closed to the public. I guess the ‘closed’ sign on the picture at the top of this page was a big hint but I sadly didn’t see that until on my way out of the place.

It turns out that it was closed about 2 years ago due to a fear of the cave collapsing. The best I could do was to just point my camera through the gate but I really couldn’t see or get a feel for what lay beyond the first few metres. Subsequent research tells me that the initial ten metres into the cave were created 1500 years ago. At the end of the 19th century the cave was expanded to 65 metres in length.

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I may have not entered the cave but my student did and he has provided the two photos  below that show a couple of stone gods and a snake picture. There were 23 gods made of stone inside and two big white snakes donned the walls which are considered to be very lucky in Japan. A spring to wash and clean your coins for good fortune similar to that at the Zeni-arai Benten temple in Kamakura was another feature of the 660 square metre cave.

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The rest of the Iko-ji is just your typical place of worship really. A pleasant enough place but all fairly nondescript with all the usual temple features.

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The lady holding the baby in the pictures below was a midwife who assisted in the childbirth of many, many babies.

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How to get there: Take the Keio Line from Shinjuku. You may need to change at Chofu and take the Keio Sagamihara Line to Keio Yomiuri-Land station. It takes about 20 minutes and costs 290 yen. The walk to the temple takes about five minutes. I couldn’t find the exact address so just took a screenshot of my Maps app.

Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Yomiuriland & Bungy Jump #4’

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About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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