Five-Story Pagoda, a historic symbol lost forever more than 50 years ago.
Yanakans love it and miss it badly now.
Once upon a time the Five-Story Pagoda stood in Yanaka Cemetery. It was built in 1644 by the monks of Choyozan Kannouji Temple (now called Tennouji Temple). It was destroyed by fire and then, in 1791, rebuilt by 48 Edo carpenters led by Seibei Hatta. The reconstructed pagoda stood 34.18 meters high, and its first story was 5.45 meters wide. The building was made entirely of zelkova timber without a single spike - the supreme style of Edo architecture. It was considered one of the “Big Four of Edo Pagodas.“ It survived many earthquakes, samurai wars, and World War II. Shortly before sunrise on July 6, 1957, a laundryman and his mistress committed double suicide by setting fire to themselves in the pagoda. The entire pagoda burned down. “They shouldn’t have used such expensive firewood!”, complained Yanakans. The magnificent landmark loved by locals, comic storytellers, and poets was lost forever. Fortunately, the original design drawings are extant, and fundraising is now under way for rebuilding the pagoda once again.