22 May 2008

Netaji's memorial

I remembered reading somewhere, a long time ago, that Netaji's ashes were kept at some temple in Tokyo. Arun and I wanted to visit that place to pay our respects.

Tokyo isn't exactly down the road from this neck of the woods. Last week, once we decided that we couldn't leave Japan without seeing some Sumo (that's another story), we made up our minds that we should see Netaji's memorial too in the same trip.

"Find out where it is," Arun said, "and we'll go there this time."

I tried to do this the easiest way possible. I called the Indian Embassy.

The reply I got there has to be preserved for all posterity. On asking where in Tokyo Netaji's ashes were, I was given this answer:
"You can ask the Japan Tourist office."

That was such an undeniably intelligent answer. I mean, I should have thought of it myself. Think about it, Pt. Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Atal Behari Vajpayee... I'm sure they all decided not to trouble the Embassy and asked the local tourist bureau for directions to get there.

I realised then that I only knew that the ashes were in some temple. And I started Googling for answers. I was lucky enough to get the name of the Renkoji temple on first try.

Next step, I started calling friends who lived in Tokyo. "Hi, where's Renkoji temple? How do I get there?" was always followed by a long pause, and the answer was always "What's that?"

It was back to Google again. This time, Google Maps came to my rescue.

Once we got to Tokyo, we took the Marunouchi Line to the Higashikoenji station, and once there started asking for directions to Renkoji. No one seemed to know where it was. With my Google Map for directions, we got to the general area where it said the temple was, and asked passers by if we were anywhere near the temple. Always to be met with blank looks and apologetic bows. Finally one passerby told us that there was a temple nearby, maybe they could help us find this place.

We walked a few yeards ahead, and saw this really small temple.

The temple itself was closed, and our shouts of "sumimasen" (excuse me please) went unanswered. We ventured into the temple, and there we saw.......
Mission accomplished.

Why are Netaji's ashes consigned to rest in an obscure temple somewhere in the back of beyond of Tokyo? Since the findings of various commissions have been tabled in parliament, and the theory that Netaji did not die in the plane crash in Taiwan has been rejected, and considering the fact that various leaders have over the years paid their respects at this shrine, doesn't this imply that the government believes that Netaji's ashes rest in Renkoji? I'm really curious why these ashes haven't been brought back to India . Don't the ashes of this great son of India deserve to be brought back to the land of his birth? Doesn't this great son deserve a prominent monument in the land of his birth?

In this forgotten little corner of Tokyo, lies this impeccably tended memorial to a great man.

Anyone who's interested may visit the Renkoji temple. The temple's at
Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku, Wada 3 Chome 30-20
Take the Marunouchi line towards Ogikubo. Get off at Higashikoenji station. Take the exit marked Wada 1-3 Chome. There's the entrance to a little park to the right of the exit. Walk into the park. Continue down the path till you reach a little road. Turn left at the road. Walk about 150 meters, and Renkoji temple is to the right.

Don't bother asking the embassy for directions.


Madhumita. said...

Seeing the photographs gave me goose bumps for some reason. And typical Embassy answer by the way -our folks in foreign lands seem to thrive on making things more difficult for their own people. Just had one such annoying experience with the embassy here as well.

Vidya said...

@Madhu: Goose bumps, eh? Trust me, I know what you mean... I didn't expect to be evercome with a burst of emotion when I saw the memorial, but it did happen. I just wish more Indians in Tokyo would take an interest in that memorial...

k10 said...

This is really weird...Netaji's ashes being somewhere in Jap land.
Wonder how come no one raised any hue and cry about it for so long. These days we make a ruckus for small small things, that such major and important actions simply slip away.

bee said...

thanks for this virtual visit to netaji's tomb, vidya. his daughter anita bose lives in tokyo. i met her once. my maternal uncle (mom's bro) was part of his army based in singapore.

Joe said...

Thanks for giving the directions clearly.

My Japanese teacher took me to this shrine once, I remember that it's not too far from Shinjuku but I don't remember the directions from Higashikoenji station to the temple.

help from Indian embassy, for directions to see the ashes of Netaji? Be happy that they didn't ask you who he is...

Anonymous said...

Hello Vidya,
Thanks for the post. I am newly in Japan and I was searching for Netaji's memorial in Toko, though I didnt knw there was a temple. I will be visiting there ASAP.

Arun said...

On searching the net for Netaji's memorial I came upon this blog of urs and felt very happy reading ur experience in visiting the memorial.It shud've been a very satisfying experience visiting the memorial. Ironically I was not able to find a memorial of this true son of the soil in India. Leaving the controversies of Netaji's death behind, the Govt of India shud come up with a memorial for Him. I jus hope that I'll get to visit His memorial once. If it's in India my joy will have no bounds.


Asit Guin said...

Japan agreed to eliminate Netaji;
In WW-I, Jap was an ally of British. Before WW-II, Jap-US trade war and political war started, this led to actual war between US and Jap. So British became an enemy to Japan by diplomatic manipulation as US - British alliance was there. After WW-II, Jap revived their old connection with British via spies. Jap and British spies were enough linked before WW-II. Jap spies agreed to eliminate Netaji. Motive was to appease the British and purchase security for Jap 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 Jap 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 Jap royal family was not tried as a war criminal? What is the mystery behind this favor?

Agnit said...

Thank You for this virtual tour of Netaji's Memorial. I had read about this on Wikipedia but had never seen it even in photos. I am very sorry to hear your interaction with the Indian Embassy since it is their prime work to maintain such relationship with the Japanese govt. especially on these issues. Netaji, a leader from my home city Kolkata has done so many things for the country. But it is not true that our country has done nothing for him. Thrice have the Indian govt. asked for those ashes from the Japanese govt. but they have refused on terms that are classified. As for that Jap-Brit spy story by our friend Asit Guin, it is totally irrelevant since Japan was attacked only by America and Russia(towards the end of the war). The only possibilities of Netaji's death/disappearance is that he was captured in Russian invaded Manchuria or the Bhagwanji case. Japan still is a sworn enemy of the Allied Group. Netaji was a very close friend of the Japanese Officials. The name'Netaji' is a very respected name in Japan. Netaji was a very intelligent person. Very less people know that he came fourth in the then ICS exam, and of them very less know that he was the President, Prime Minister, Commander-of-Armed Forces and Founder of two countries namely the Indische Legion in Germany and the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind in Japanese conquered Singapore and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands(From where the the term and army Azad Hind Fauj came). For a man who had died for his country, it is very shameful of course for having his ashes in a distant foreign land. After Netaji's death, the news trigerred a violent set of attacks on the British armed force by the Indian soldiers called the Bombay Mutiny or the Second War of Independence. I would like readers to search on this topic on any site to realise how Netaji's last plan had hit the target. It is my appeal to all readers that please know more about Netaji. And to Indians living in Japan it is my strong request that if you can't bring Netaji home, at least visit him in his own temple. The Indian Embassies and govt. will not change untill we change. - Agnit Mukhopadhyay, Kolkata.

Probal Bhattacharyya said...

Sorry to dissapoint you but it is a very well known fact that these ashes are not of Subhash Bose. It is rather a sad story that all Indians ought to be knowing. If you have time please pick up a copy of "India's biggest Cover up" by Sri Anuj Dhar online from 'flipcart' and get to know the real story as how India has treated its 'Prince amongst Patriots'. Jai Hind