Part of the vast Kan’ei-ji temple complex, Benten-dō Temple is located on a small artificial island on the Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park, surrounded by lotus flowers and food stalls. While the temple itself is fairly well-known, visitors may not realize that it is home to more than a few obscure and unusual monuments.
One of those is the Fugu Tsuitō-hi, or the Blowfish Memorial. It was dedicated by the Tokyo Fugu Cuisine Association to the spirits of the fugu, a type of pufferfish that is sought after for sushi despite containing a deadly neurotoxin. The monument is offered in gratitude, and in the hope that there are no future deaths by poisoning.
Another notable one is the Eyeglasses Monument, which is dedicated to the people who contributed to the evolution of eyeglasses. It depicts the spectacles of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of Japan’s last shogunate. There are many more small monuments in the property, including ones of the biwa (Japanese lute), shamisen strings, sensu (Japanese hand fans), suppon (softshell turtle), calendar, knives, fish and poultry.
Know Before You Go
Benten-dō Temple is a five minute walk from Ueno Station, right next to the Benten Gate-side entrance of the Ueno Zoo.