Renkoji – A temple for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Japan

On June 18 we visited the Renkoji temple, where the ashes of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is believed to be kept. We have been thinking of making our visit to the temple ever since we heard of such a temple in Japan. It was a surprise to us to hear that Netaji is being respected in Japan, far away from his own country.
Netaji was a revolutionary freedom fighter who has a special place in the hearts of the youth in India. Though the history books in India have limitations in teaching about Netaji and his principles, people respect him as the most influential personality who could contribute the most to the Indian freedom fighting. He was the first to call Gandhiji as Mahatma. Mahatma in Hindi means the great soul. Due to the differences in approaches and opinions towards the methods adopted for India’s freedom movement with Indian National Congress, Netaji left India to seek possible help from other global partners like Germany and Japan. He succeeded to get the help from the then emperor of Japan during second world war and formed Indian National Army, INA by gathering Indians settled in Malaysia, Singapore and similar neighboring countries. Many Indians from the British India also joined in INA to fight against British East India Company rule.

Netaji was a successful leader in forming Azad Hind Government in Andaman Nicobar Islands after a severe fight with British military at the Eastern parts of India with the help of Japanese military. Right or wrong through the eyes of western media, the actions of Netaji were all justifying to the Indians, who were ruled by the British. Capturing and ruling another country is more ‘wrong’ than fighting for freedom of one’s own country!

Japan lost the war and Netaji was forced to leave the Indian regions he captured back from British. Death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose still remains mysterious. Some of the commissions established by the Government of India found that he was died in a plane accident at Taiwan. Some believes he was living like a monk in Faizabad or somewhere near the capital of India. But the ashes of Netaji is believed to be in Renkoji temple.

It was raining when we visited the Renkoji temple. I explained a little bit of history to my children who still can not understand what is freedom fighting and all. My elder daughter asked me, if Netaji was an Indian, why Japanese people made his statue and temple for him in Japan?. I am not sure how many Japanese people really know Netaji and his contributions to the Indian freedom fighting. Probably the new generations may not know Netaji. They might have heard of Radha Binod Pal, the judge who supported Japanese cause for the second world war and whose opinions saved many of the Japanese prisoners of war from execution. We could see this Judge’s photo in the garden of the Yasukuni shrine, which is in Kudanshita when we visited the shrine in April 2010.

We heard about this temple from a friend living in Japan. The temple is 40 minutes by train from the place we live. It is accessible easily from Shinjuku Sanchome by Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line. From Shinjuku Sanchome it takes only 10 minutes. We got down at Higashi Koenji and took Exit-1. The trains that goes to Ogikubo which have stops in Higashi Koenji can also be used to reach at Renkoji temple.

If you are going from Tokyo, take Marunouchi line that goes to the direction of Ogikubo. Get down at Higashi Koenji, which will take only 27 minutes.

After coming out of the exit No.1, we were little confused where to turn and walk. I approached the “Lost and Found” division of the Tokyo Metro to ask about the road that goes to Renkoji temple. After searching in there area map book, one of the staff came out of the office to show us how to go to the temple. As he told, when we turned left from the exit, we found a cycle stand, a park and then a small pedestrian road. We took left at the end of the park to the pedestrian road. As per the instruction of the staff we walked on the road looking at the right side for the temple. I guess, we might have walked around 150 meters to reach to the temple. The temple is small and we could find Netaji’s statue at the garden.

Those were the proudest moments in my life in Japan – paying homage to the great Indian leader – Subhash Chandra Bose – an evergreen inspiration in my life.

Author: Jayaprakash

16 thoughts on “Renkoji – A temple for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Japan

  1. There are many stories around and it is up to the individual to believe one or discard. The core truth is Netaji lives still in millions of hearts! Let us agree to this point at least.

  2. There are some rumors that the ashes are not netaji's and the plane accident was fake and netaji had escaped to russia?what's the truth?

  3. Japan agreed to eliminate Netaji;
    In WW-I, Japan was an ally of British. Before WW-II, Japan-US trade war and political war started, this led to actual war between US and Japan. So British became an enemy to Japan by diplomatic manipulation as US – British alliance was there. After WW-II, Japan revived their old connection with British via spies. Japanese and British spies were enough linked before WW-II. Japanese spies agreed to eliminate Netaji. Motive was to appease the British and purchase security for Japan royal family. Thus, Japan sold Netaji to British and British eliminated him. The false news of air crash was Japan’s fabrication. In any controversial case, liar is to be suspected first.
    Netaji’s plan to start second independence war with the help of USSR was known to Japan. There was enough scope for British and Japanese spies to develop a common minimum program against pro-communist agenda of Netaji. Why should Japanese imperialism agree to patronize emergence of independent India as a permanent communist ally? Is it not more logical to fulfill British condition and purchase favor? Why Japan royal family was not tried as a war criminal? What is the mystery behind this favor?

  4. Thank you for the touching homage to the great national hero Netaji. The Indian government cannot suppress his contribution to the India's freedom forever. Jai Hind !

  5. Hi JP, i HAd visited Tokyo in 2008. My sister lives there. What a pity we had no idea about Netaji's temple. I still feel very bad i did not see the temple. I really love your blog.The content is precise and enjoyable. Keep going.

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    Death of Netaji is a mystery in India, but for the people who supported Netaji and his cause in Japan, it is a fact that he died in a place crash in Taiwan. The Japanese official documents says while boarding a Japanes bomber plane at Taihoku Airport, the plane met with a tragic engine trouble and crashed. Netaji suffered serious injury and burns and passed away on 18th August 1945. It is documented that seven of his followers had survived that accident. True to the heart, It is too hard me to control the tears while writing this….

    Acoording to six of the seven survivors of the accident, medical personnel and the interpretor who helped at the hospital, Netaji could not survive the accident. After cremation in Taiwan, his ashese were taken to Tokyo and after one month of his death, on 18th September 1945, it interred at Renkoji Temple.

    There are many rumors about Netaji’s death in India. Indian politicians such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee etc have this Temple at Renkoji. The current head priest of the Temple is Mr. Kyozen Mochizuki. Many Indian politicians have in the past tried for the return of Netaji’s ashes to his homeland, but the skeptics argue that the this action would lend credence to Netaji’s death.

    We have seen the temple premises outside since it was closed. I could not meet the head priest during our visit. I am planning to make one more visit. A DNA test will reveal all the truth, but for Japanese people, there is no doubt, as it happened in a place controlled by Japanese officials at that time and they took the ashed to the temple. They do not need to keep some other Indian's ashes in a temple in Tokyo only to make a mystery!

    For more than sixty five years, Japanese people kept Netaji’s ashes in a Temple in Japan!

  7. HAI JAYAPRAKASH,
    Thanks a lot for your blog and the homage you paid to our beloved Netaji. Being a bengali I am very emotional to this matter. Just for curiosity I am asking, is it possible to see the ashes or just urn from outside is visible ? Is it possible to collect bone or ash? It can lead to unearth the mistry.Because Netaji's descendant are there in Kolkata, so we can try for a DNA test, it will lead to find the identity of Anita Puff also.Thanks
    anindya at briercrest dot com.
    Thanks.

  8. There is an interesting article on Subhash Chandra Bose in today's Japan times: 'Japan's unsung role in India's struggle for independence' written by Jon Mitchell. Hope you might have gone through it.

  9. Hi Abhi,

    I would like add some more for your information. There are many Indians still living in Japan after March 11. Some of the Indians had gone back to India and some got a chance to transfer their work to Singapore. The primary motivation to do so was the fears of radiation and after shocks in Japan. This on one side, the another side is, there are Indian families living still in Japan with small kids, newborn babies etc. One of my friend's wife is also pregnant and still in Japan.

    If you have even a slight concern, don't take any chance to bring your family at this moment. Once you come and realize the situation you can decide your own. After all, you have to decide on your life and my opinions does not matter. To be frank, I also have pressure from my parents and in-laws to return due to radiation and earthquake fears. At some points we have to take our own decision.

  10. hi jayaprakash
    thnks a lot for the informative reply .it is very helpful
    i have 1 more query – my wife is expecting. and i am not sure if it is safe for her to travel to tokyo at this time.

    thnks a ton . hope to meet u if i come to tokyo

    reg
    abhi

  11. There is a concern of radiation in Tokyo after the Fukushima nuclear plant breakdown and subsequent incidents. It is true. The radiatin level in Tokyo has gone a bit high compared to that of March 11. The current radiation level in Tokyo on an average is around 0.2 microsieverts per hour. If somebody is exposed to this level of radiation for the whole day and for one year, the accumulated radiation in one year will be 1.752 millisieverts. These are the facts, but still the radiation in Tokyo is well below compared to many other parts of the world.

    Brazil, Iran and some parts of India have higher levels of natural radiation due to the presense of radio active materials in the nature. Tokyo had very low levels of background radiation before March 11. Now that has gone high, but still under safety limits.

    I am not authentic to comment about radiation effects, but just to compare, an individual smoking one and half cigarette packets a day, will get 36 millisieverts in one year. This is much higher than living in Tokyo at the current situation. These all are concerns. Still people are living in Tokyo and Japan. There are foreigners coming to Japan and still working in Japan. Water bottles are available in every stores sufficiently. Food and water are available everywhere as usual. After all I still live in Tokyo with my wife and two kids. Also many of my friends do live.

    While coming to Japan on March 28, the immigration officer in India asked me "Is it safe to go to Japan now?" I told "I don't know, but I need to go and join back my work"

    We don't know which place is safe for our life. It is the destiny takes its course finally.

  12. Hi

    how are you doing,

    I am offered a job in Tokyo,

    I am little bit concerned about current radiation level in Tokyo,

    how high it is for us?

    and also food , grocery and water, is it contaminated by radiations?

    Thanks for reply,

    my email id is abhi.parkar@gmail.com

    BR
    Abhi

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