Introduction of the historical sight in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Sainen-ji Temple Jodo Sect was founded by Hanzo Hattori in 1593. Page for temple's origin


Origin of Sainen-ji

Joudo Sect
Hanzo Masanari Hattori
Buddhist name
Senshoinden-anyo-sainen-daizenjomon (専称院殿安譽西念大禅定門)
Founded in
Bunroku 3 (1594) by a priest, Senyonenmushonin

Sensho-zan Annyo-in Sainen-ji was founded by the honorable Hanzo Masanari Hattori, a legendary ninja, to commemorate honorable Nobuyasu Matsudaira (Tokugawa Ieyasu's eldest son).

Hanzo Masanari was born in Mikawa Province (former Aichi Prefecture) in Tenmon 11 (1542) as a child of the ninja "Hanzo Yasunaga the First".
Yazunaga was a leader of a ninja group. Masanari served Ieyasu Tokugawa as a samurai, and led ninja in Iga and Koga provinces. He was a master of spears, took the nickname of "Oni no Hanzo (Demon Hanzo)" because of numerous military exploits and was given a spear by Ieyasu as a gift. This spear was handed over to become the temple’s treasure and it was registered as one of the designated cultural properties of Shinjuku-ku.

Nobuyasu, who was born as the eldest child between Ieyasu Tokugawa and lady Tsukiyama, was excellent in military prowess and highly promising for the future. He drew the attention of Nobunaga Oda, who was an ally of the Tokugawa family and wished to rule the nation, and married to his daughter.

However, due to fear of the excellence of Nobuyasu as well as suspicions, Oda ordered Ieyasu have Nobuyasu seppuku (harakiri / ritual suicide) on grounds of a rumor about Nobuyasu’s attempt of rebellion (according to one story, he was suspected of secret communications with Katsuyori Takeda).
Because Ieyasu could not disobey the cruel order of Nobunaga in order to maintain Tokugawa’s peace and security as well as the alliance with Oda, Ieyasu ordered seppuku to his beloved eldest son Nobuyasu with the utmost reluctance.
It was Hanzo Masanori who was appointed to aid Nobuyasu to commit seppuku.
However, even though it was an order, it was impossible for Masanori to employ the sword for the lord who he served; even "Demon Hanzo" could not fulfill this role in the end.
After this event Hanzo felt a sense of the evanescence of life and entered the Buddhist priesthood to pray for the soul of Nobuyasu.

In Tensho 18th (1590), Ieyasu entered Edo, built Edo Castle and established the principal base.
Hanzo Masanori also entered Edo following Ieyasu, but he shaved his hair to enter the Buddhist priesthood to pray for the soul of Nobuyasu and changed his name to “Sainen”.
Then he built a hut in Kojimachi Shimizudani (near Hotel New Otani and Shimizudani Park), buried the hair of Nobuyasu which he had embraced since he left Enshu, and prayed for Nobuyasu day after day.
It was recorded that in Bunroku 2 (1593), Hanzo received 300 ryo (1 ryo = approximately equivalent to USD1,000) from Ieyasu and was ordered to use the money to build a temple for praying for the soul of Nobuyasu and loyal people to the Tokugawa family as well as for the enemies who were killed in battles.
However, he could not fulfill the order to build a temple and passed away at the age of 55 on November 14, Bunraku 4 (1595).
His Buddhist name is “専称院殿(Senshoinden) 安譽(Anyo) 西念 (Sainen) 大禅定門 (Daizenjomon)”.
Thereafter, a temple was built where the hut was, and the temple’s name including prefixes was after his Buddhist name, 専称山(Sensho-san) 安養院(Anyo-in) 西念寺(Sainen-ji).

In Kanei 11 (1634), in order to establish the outer moat accompanying the extension of the Edo Castle outer passages, the shogunate government decided temples should be collectively located outside the moat and this temple was also moved to its present place.
Unfortunately, in May, Showa 20 (1945), all buildings were destroyed by the war, and the main hall was rebuilt at the end of November, Showa 36 (1961).
After that, with cooperation from the congregation and related people, we have built the priest quarters, the reception hall, and other buildings.