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Yoshiwara Shrine / Iriya Tokyo

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[Monument in Memory of Hanano Yoshiwara]

Yoshiwara was the only red-light district approved by the Edo government, and was set up in 1617 at what is now Nigyo-cho in Nihonbashi situated in Chuo-ku(Fukiya-cho Higashi-donari).
The name of Yoshiwara is said to originate from the fact that the town was created by reclaiming a marsh area where ditch reed (Yoshi) grew in abundance.
The government executed the order to move the Yoshiwara red-light district to a suburban area due to the disastrous fire in 1657, and Yoshiwara was moved to the location of present-day Senzoku in Taito-ku (Senzoku-mura in Asakusa) in August of the same year.
The Yoshiwara in the new location was called “Shin-yoshiwara” as opposed to “Moto-yoshiwara”, the originatal red-light district.
Shin-yoshiwara was extremely prosperous as one of the greatest entertainment district in Edo, became a part of the splendid Edo culture, and was the scene of many historical events, before it was abolished in 1958 with the establishment of the Anti-Prostitution Act.
This monument in Yamaji Kanko, a haiku poet, a researcher of the old senyu(old satirical seventeen-syllable poems), and a professor at Kyoritsu Women’s Education Institution.
Until the residence indication was changed in 1966, various town names that were related to Yoshiwara, such as Shin-yoshiwara Edo-cho , Sumi-cho and Ageya-cho,remained.

[Site of the Shin-Yoshiwara Hanazono Pond(Benten Pond)]

Until the early 17th Century, this area was marshland with many lakes.
In 1657 , the wetland was reclaimed and the pleasure district.
Shin-Yoshiwara, was established.
This pond was left alone and from a certain period.
Benten Shrine was worshipped on its shores.
Presently, this Benten Shrine is considered one of the shrines on the Seven Lucky Gods of Good Fortune in Asakusa and many come to worship it on New Year’s.
The pond was called the Hanazono Pond or the Benten Pond.
In the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 many people sought refuge by its shores and 490 of them perished.
The giant statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara near the Benten Shrine was built in 1926 in memory of their souls.
Most of the pond was filled up in 1959 when the Yoshiwara Building was constructed and now only traces of it remain.



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