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Walking around Musashi Kokuga(Province office) ~ Kokubunji and Fuchu JUN, 2024

Although I had been there before on a local tour, I decided to take a look around the highlights again. The layout of the old provinces was roughly finalized in the early 8th century around the time of the Taiho Code after some investigation in the late 7th century, but the first record shows that a provincial governor was dispatched to Musashi Province in 703 (the third year of the Taiho era). Soon after, the capital was moved to Heijo-kyo, and half a century later Emperor Shomu established the Kokubunji Temple and Kokubunji Nunnery Temple. Today, you can visit the ruins of these representative buildings across the city from Kokubunji to Fuchu.

Musashi Province covered a large area including 21 districts, including present-day Saitama Prefecture, Tokyo, Kawasaki City, and a part of Yokohama City, and in the Engishiki (the implementing rules for the Ritsuryo Code, established in the early 10th century), which ranked each province, Musashi Province was ranked as one of the top major provinces. Its importance remained unchanged through the Middle Ages and early modern periods, and during the Edo period it had a large city called Edo with a population of just under 2 million, welcoming the Meiji Restoration as the country with the largest economy out of the 60 or so provinces. 

Immediately after getting off at Fuchu Station on the Keio Line, you will find Okunitama Shrine, the head shrine of Musashi Province, and the provincial capital and related facilities were located in this area. The area is crowded with public facilities and apartment buildings, making it difficult to imagine what it was like back then, but to the east of the shrine is a small but former provincial government office area, and to the southwest, the former provincial governor's residence area is currently being developed into a plaza. Ieyasu, who was forced by Hideyoshi to transfer his territory to Edo, built his mansion (Fuchu Palace) on the site of the ancient provincial capital and seems to have stopped by there frequently.


At that time, a government road branched off from the Tosando, which was a major trunk road, and a 12-meter-wide road ran north and south from Nitta in Kozuke to Sagami Provice office (Hiratsuka City) via Musashi Provice office, and was called the Tosando Musashi Road. It connected the Tosando and Tokaido, and Musashi Provice office was located at the center of it. This road was located on a route roughly parallel to the current Fuchu Kaido and JR Musashino Line, and if you go north from the Kokufu a few hundred meters, you will find the vast grounds of Kokubun-niji Temple to the west and Kokubunji Temple to the east.


Kokubun-niji Temple is adjacent to the west side of the Musashino Line and is a small park, but to the north you can walk along a narrow pass that is said to have been the medieval Kamakura Highway. Perhaps Yoshisada Nitta traveled south through this road and headed for Bubaigawara. The road looks like it would barely be wide enough for two horses to run along, but it is only about 3km to the battlefield.

Yoshisada was defeated at one point, but he lured his enemies into a false sense of security, defeated them in a surprise attack, and stormed into Kamakura, bringing the Kamakura Shogunate to an end. Over 120 years later, another Battle of Bubaigawara took place here (between the Kamakura shogunate and the Kanto Kanrei). As a result, the Kyotoku War, also known as the "Onin War of Kanto," began, and the Kamakura shogunate leader, Shigeuji Ashikaga, gave up on Kamakura and moved to Koga. The battles over the Tama River along the Kamakura Highway have been fierce since ancient times.

Yoshisada burned down the Kokubunji temple in an early defeat, but built and donated the Yakushido hall, which was inherited by the Kokubunji temple today. The vast site of the Kokubunji temple spreads to the south of the current Kokubunji temple, and excavation and maintenance of the ruins are expected to continue in the future.


About 500m west of Okunitama Shrine on the old Koshu Kaido road is Koanji Temple. This is one of the old Ankokuji temples built by Ashikaga Takauji to commemorate the war dead including Emperor Godaigo, but it was originally the site of the mansion where Hidesato Fujiwara (Chinjufu Shogun, Musashi no Kami) was appointed as Musashi Kokushi to subjugate Masakado Taira, and was a temple called Kenseiji. With the Koshigoe Letter being ineffective, Yoshitsune and Benkei fled and stopped here, and the well from which Benkei drew water for his inkstone when he copied the Great Prajnaparamita Sutra remains.

The upper circular tomb, built in the mid-7th century, on the eve of the creation of Musashi Province, is located about 2.5 km west of the Okunitama Shrine area on the Koshu Kaido road. It was discovered after a radar survey in recent years, and although there is no doubt that the person buried there was an influential person in the area, it is interesting to note his relationship with the Yamato Imperial Court and how he was incorporated into the governing system of the Musashi Provincial Government, which was established less than half a century later.

Kokubunji and Fuchu are interesting places where you can easily encounter 7th century burial mounds, 8th century provincial government offices and Kokubunji temples, 10th century Tawara Tōta (Hidesato), 12th century Yoshitsune, 14th century Yoshisada Nitta and Takauji Ashikaga, 15th century Shigeuji Ashikaga, and 16th century Ieyasu.



Thank you for coming!

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