On the 17th day of the fourth month of 1616, Tokugawa Ieyasu died at Sunpu Castle (in what is now Shizuoka) at the age of 75. His remains were carried that night, in the rain, to nearby Kunozan, and buried there. The following year, as Ieyasu’s will specified, a shrine was built at Nikko and his coffin transferred from Kunozan to Nikko. This picture scroll depicts that travel to Nikko. Thought to be a copy made in the late Edo period, it depicts the travel in detail. The Buddhist priest Nankobo Tenkai, who had pushed for Ieyasu’s deification, played a central role in this travel. On the 15th day of the third month, Tenkai himself moved the sacred coffin to the golden palanquin. Honda Masazumi, Matsudaira Masatsuna, and others who had been close to Ieyasu made offerings, and then they set out from Kunozan. As this picture scroll indicates, the procession proudly carrying the golden palanquin was gorgeous and magnificent. The procession traveled via Odawara, Senba (now Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture), Sano, and other places on the route, arriving in Nikko on the 4th day of the fourth month. After the sacred coffin was transferred to a temporary hall, the formal installation of Ieyasu’s spirit in his shrine in Nikko was carried out. The participants included the current shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada, daimyos, aristocrats from the imperial court, and Buddhist priests in a grand ceremony that demonstrated the authority of the Tokugawa shogunate.
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Edo-Tokyo Museum
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Edo-Tokyo Museum Digital Archives

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