The suburb of Minato in the bustling center of Tokyo is a place rich in business, entertainment and culture, where the dominoes of buildings leave no room for the bustling skyline. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the chaotic skyline lies an unusual hidden gem and, in fact, one of Tokyo’s unique attractions, which is just a stone’s throw from the foot of the famous Tokyo Tower and the Palace of the emperor.
This strange building is the Shakaden Reiyukai, a multipurpose structure functioning as a Buddhist temple and community center. Big, imposing and not too dissimilar to a futuristic spaceship in terms of aesthetics; it is quite strange that no one seems to know much about this extraordinary feature except local residents in the know.
This mighty pyramid-shaped building sporting an intense black hue is a temple of the Inner Trip Reiyukai (ITR) – a modern Japanese religious movement that first emerged in the 1930s as an offshoot of Buddhism.
However, this striking establishment offers much more than theistic operations to those who take the time to visit and explore its opulent interiors.
The History of Shakaden Reiyukai Temple in Tokyo
The history of the Shakaden Reiyukai temple does not go back very far; initially it was built in 1925 for followers of Shakyamuni Buddha – but the construction seen today is a replacement for the original building, which was demolished in 1975.
As much as the temple is a place of religious practice, it has gained international acclaim as a modern architectural and artistic masterpiece. Many have described the structure as a giant granite pyramid, compared it to a futuristic football stadium, and even called it an intergalactic vehicle, given that it wouldn’t look out of place in space.
The interiors of Shakaden Reiyukai Temple
Visitors are greeted by a long staircase leading to a perched walkway after entering the complex’s single entrance. Inside, marble adorns the interior, keeping the temple cool in the height of Japan’s hot and humid summer.
The entrance is indeed imposing, but so is the vast hall of the institution once inside. With a capacity of accommodating up to 3,500 people, the building’s great hall is the star of the show, serving as the wonderful interior focal point of the temple.
Photography of any kind is not permitted in the Great Hall.
Shakaden Temple patrons are welcome to tour the entire compound, including the nursery, bookstore, and medical center inside. While the premises exude grandeur and offer a myriad of functions throughout, the temple’s eight-meter Buddha statue carved from millennia-old camphor wood might be one of the most striking additions to the exhibit.
Just when visitors thought the building couldn’t get any more impressive – and unconventional – they probably think again when they discover that the grounds also house a massive 400-ton drinking water reservoir. According to building officials, the water is a back-up supply to be used in an emergency – what kind of emergency it may be, however, remains unknown.
The Shakaden Reiyukai today
Currently, the Shakaden Reiyukai complex is the main headquarters of the Inner Trip Reiyukai Buddhist sect; however, this traditional temple is different from many others – both in appearance and function.
The building also functions as a community center with a host of services available to all guests; even free Japanese lessons are offered to anyone, and everyone – a service made all the more appealing by the friendly monks who always welcome guests.
Along with free language lessons, the Shakaden Resort also offers a range of programs and experiences – from study groups to calligraphy sessions. As such, if not for the temple’s extravagant, ultra-modern look mixed with majestic decor and Buddhist traditionalism, nearby guests should at least visit the place and check out what services and activities are on offer there. they are looking for something different to do in Tokyo.
Is Shakaden Reiyukai Temple Worth Visiting?
Of course, the eccentric temple resembling a star wars Imperial mothership, is not the only attraction of Minato. Still, being located just a few hundred meters from Tokyo Tower and Shiba Park, this fascinating and eye-catching institution is well worth a visit, perhaps as part of a day trip to this hip Tokyo neighborhood or even of a comprehensive Tokyo adventure itinerary for those staying. in town longer.
How to get to Shakaden Reiyukai Temple, Tokyo
- Reiyukai Shakaden Temple Address: 1-Chome-7-8 Azabudai, Minato City, Tokyo 106-8644, Japan
Tokyo Shakaden Reiyukai Temple is located right in the beating heart of Minato. There are several ways to get there, but one of the best and easiest is to take the Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho. From Kamiyacho, future visitors can walk south for about five minutes.
Those struggling to find the temple may find it easier to head to the iconic Tokyo Tower first, where the complex can be found by walking five minutes directly north of the tower.
Shakaden Reyukai Temple is free to visit; however, seeing its splendid architecture from the nearby Tokyo Tower observation deck offers the best views in its entirety.