What remains of the location where Asano Naganori lost his temper and tried to kill Kira Yoshinaka is these days little more than a plaque and some trees in the Imperial Palace East Gardens, but if you have the time or the gardens were already on your itinerary, it’s worth a few extra minutes of your time.
Enter through the Otemon Gate. It is the gate nearest to the site of the corridor, and while a reconstruction it is nonetheless impressive.
These gardens were once a functional part of Edo Castle. Matsu no Ōrōka means Great Pine Corridor, and the name came from the vast shōji (sliding doors or walls made from transluscent washi paper stretched over wooden or bamboo frames) which lined it: these shōji were artfully painted with pine tree motifs.
As with the rest of the Shogun’s palace, the corridor no longer stands. In its place, a plaque commemorates the event.
And this is it: the very spot which triggered one of Japan’s most beloved legends. When Asano Naganori was sentenced to commit seppuku for his attack, his lands were seized and his retainers instantly became rōnin. Their story is one of Bushido’s greatest tales, beloved across Japan over three hundred years later. The patience, bravery, and honour of the Forty Seven Rōnin is undeniable, even if it has been heavily romanticised in popular media since then.
Visiting the Matsu no Ōrōka Corridor:
Take the Chiyoda, Tozai, Marunouchi or Hanzōmon Metro Lines, or the Toei Mita Line, to Ōtemachi Station. Use Exit C10 or C13a. The Otemon Gate is a short walk. Once inside the park, follow the narrower paths to your left, past the Fujimi-yagura Keep. Click here to see the route in Google Maps.
The rest of the gardens are well worth your time, and you will have to pass through most of them to reach the corridor, so give yourself a good couple of hours for this visit. Pick up some bottled water at a vending machine before walking through the park on a hot day.
Admission: Entry to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace is free, but you will require an entry token from the security booth at any entrance. Hand this back to any booth on departure – it’s how the guards ensure no civilians remain on the grounds at closing time.