Ekoin Temple

(aka the Shrine of the Rat Boy)

After visiting the Sumo stadium, follow the street lined with Sumo statues until it ends. Across the street you’ll see a wooden gate: this is the entrance too Ekoin Temple, one of the most eclectic temples in Tokyo. Legend has it this is where retiring sumo wrestlers bury their topknots.

Originally built in 1657 as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the great fire, the temple has long since transcended its original purpose.

For example, on the temple grounds, there is a memorial to lost pets. Owners buy large sticks in their pet’s memory and place them around the temple grounds. It would be incredibly sad if the grounds weren’t filled with so many stray cats who are very much alive and waiting to be fed. Generally, these felines are demanding, but friendly.

There’s a huge tower on the grounds that is said to serve as the final resting place for unidentified dead people, criminals, and those who have lost their lives in various disasters.

The “Shrine of the Rat Boy” is perhaps the biggest draw to Ekoin (at least for the cats). The Rat Boy was apparently a Robin Hood-like Japanese figure from the 19th century.