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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Kyoto Street Sign Senbon Dori

Senbon Dori Sign京都標識千本通り

At the corner of Senbon-Imadegawa is a typical street sign.

White background, blue lettering, blue outline.

The sound of the street is mellifluous, and means "one thousand trees/stakes street."

Sounds nice enough. A bit more sniffing around, however, leads in a different, creepier direction.

In the past corpses were collected and brought for burial to Mt. Funaoka, which today is a pleasant neighborhood not far from Daitokuji Temple and Bukkyo University.

The corpses were carried along Senbon Dori on their final journey.

As a result, there were many wooden stakes and stupas lining the road; they served as charms and offerings.

It is thought that these stakes numbered in the thousands. Hence, the name of the street.

Even weirder though is the name of the area around Mt. Funaoka, where the burial ground was located.

Murasakino is rendered in Japanese as 紫野. Literally, "purple field." The fields were so blood soaked that they became dyed a deep red.

Senbon Dori runs north-south on the western side of Kyoto, west of Horikawa and east of Nishioji.

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