A pond and a huge stone is installed in the middle of the Itabashi JR (Japan Railway) station in Tokyo. Is this place of worshipping build on purpose in the station hall or did they construct the station around this setting?
“This is not a temple or shrine, it is just a pond. There is no story connected to it. JR has nothing to do with this place. It used to be public land before JR privatized it, but as far as I know it now belongs to JR. Our cleaning staff cleans the toilets and station area and sometimes they maintain this pond as well. But they didn’t place the flowers there, I actually don’t know who did this.”
“We don’t work directly for JR, but for a cleaning company that is hired by JR. I don’t know the meaning of this place and I also don’t clean it. What I do know about this station, is that at the other exit, there is the grave of Isami Kondo, the commander of the Shinsengumi. Itabashi ward maintains this grave, maybe they also take care of the pond and can tell you more about it?”
“The big, vertical stone that is placed in the middle of the pond represents a woman. She is sometimes called ‘the grandmother’. On the other side of the railway tracks there is a similar place with a stone representing a man. Before the station was build, they used to be a couple and one could walk from one place to the other. Now, the station and the tracks have separated the couple. The woman is incorporated in the station, the man is unreachable by foot, but can be seen from the train. People sometimes throw money to the stone. I don’t like that so much. There used to be a goldfish in the pond, but nowadays the water level is not high enough.”
JR station chef
“I presume the pond and the stones are placed here to commemorate people who died in a train accident. One of the stones represents a frog, the Japanese word for frog is ‘kaeru’, another meaning of this word is ‘to return home’ (Travellers carry a small frog amulet with the intent of returning safely home). The small wooden nameplate on the fence says ‘Bosatzu’ (Japanese for Bodhisattva), it is an indication that this is a Buddhist place.”
Passer-by (age 60)
“I think this place was build by JR at the same time as the station. Because JR knows that Japanese people like nature very much and they wanted to provide something beautiful for the travellers to look at when crossing the station.”
Elderly man that is about to catch his train
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