Hino: City of the Shinsengumi
While many aficionados of Japanese history are familiar with the story of the Shinsengumi’s rise to prominence and downfall in Kyoto as well as their last stand in Hokkaido, the origins of many of the Shinsengumi’s most prominent members in Hino City are less well known. Situated just under an hour’s train ride from Shinjuku via the Chuo line, Hino makes for a great day trip destination, with many sites commemorating the city’s ties to the Shinsengumi.
Nearest to Hino JR station is the Inoue Genzaburo Museum (井上源三郎資料館), still owned and operated by descendants of the Inoue line. Contained within a former storehouse of the family farm, it now holds several artifacts of the Shinsengumi and the last days of the Shogunate. Information and training equipment for Tennen Rishin-ryu, the sword art in which Inoue Genzaburo trained (and which the current owner of the museum still practices) is also housed here. Open hours are limited to the first and third Sundays of the month, and during special events. Admission 500 yen. For Shinsengumi fans who would like to pay their respects, the gravesite for Inoue Genzaburo is located at Housenji Temple (宝泉寺) near Hino JR Station.
The Sato Hikogoro Shinsengumi Shiryokan (佐藤彦五郎新撰組資料館) is located within a 10 minute walk of Hino JR Station. This small museum is dedicated to Sato Hikogoro, Hijikata Toshizo’s brother-in-law, who was a supporter of the Shinsengumi as well as the head of a Tennen Rishin-ryū dojo. This museum is also owned and operated by Sato Hikogoro’s descendants, and is open the first and third Sundays of the month. Sato Hikogoro’s grave is located at the nearby Daishouji (大聖寺) temple.
Around the corner from the Sato Hikigoro Shinsengumi Shiryokan is the Hinoshuku Honjin (日野宿本陣 ), an inn built in 1864 for the use of traveling government officials, the Hinoshuku Honjin is the only Honjin still standing. It often served as a gathering place for many of the young men who would later become part of the Shinsengumi. The inn is a beautiful example of period architecture and aesthetic, providing a glimpse into the past. Closed on Mondays, open hours 9:00 am to 17:00 pm.
Those interested in taking a deeper look into the history of the area as well as the roots and formation of the Shinsengumi should visit the Hino City History Museum of Shinsengumi, near Hino City Hall. The museum gives an overview of the political situation that gave rise to the Shinsengumi and has many artifacts and photos on display. There is even an area you can dress up and pose for photos. Closed on Mondays, open hours 9:00 am to 17:00 pm.
Slightly larger than the Inoue Genzaburo Museum is the Hijikata Toshizo museum. Still under the ownership and supervision of the Hijikata family, the museum is housed on the same property where Hijikata Toshizo, vice commander of the Shinsengumi, was born, with other parts of the building still in use as a private residence. Inside, the museum itself houses items pertaining to his life, including letters, poems, weapons, and armor such as his helmet and chain mail. Hijikata’s sword, called Izuminokami Kanesada, is only on exhibit during May. Open the first and third Sunday of the month and some Holidays. Open hours 12:00- 16:00. Located further away from Hino JR Station, it is recommended to transfer to the monorail at Tachikawa JR station or Takatafudo Keio Station and get off at Manganji (If you are visiting the sites around Hino JR station first, walk to the Koshukaido monorail station and ride to Manganji).
Nearby the Hijikata Toshizo museum is the Sekidenji Temple (石田寺), which houses the grave of Hijikata Toshizo. Originally founded in 1361 and rebuilt in 1544, the Temple was renamed Sekidenji in 1593.
Takahata Fudo temple is situated near Takahatafudo station on the Keio line and the Takahatafudo monorail station. With a history going back more than a thousand years, Takahatafudo encompasses a large, sprawling collection of buildings as well as a forested hillside (Toritsu Tamakyuryo Natural Park) interlaced with walking trails. The walking trails include 88 statues along the trail, simulating the Shikoku pilgrimage on a much shorter course. The grounds contain several buildings spread out along the base of and within the park, including the impressive five tier pagoda. Takahata Fudo Temple was originally founded in the 8th century, and rebuilt in its present location in 1342. Near the entrance, visitors are greeted by a statue of Hijikata Toshizo, and every May a memorial service is held on the anniversary of his death. Takahata Fudo also holds the En-nichi festival monthly on the 28th.