Reiyukai Shakaden Temple – Tokyo, Japan

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Reiyukai Shakaden Temple

(81)  35.563.2500
1-7-8 Azabudai Minato
Tokyo 06-0041, Japan

One can count the space age the black star temple of Reiyukai Shakaden Temple among the many places in Tokyo that seem straight out of a Science Fiction movie!

Completed in 1975, this red and black granite complex sheathed in electrochemically coloured black-steel shingles, is home to the Buddhist sect Reiyūkai (霊友会 Spiritual-Friendship).   Reiyūkai emerged as an offshoot of Buddhism in 1925 by Kakutarō Kubo and Kimi Kotani, focusing on ancestral worship without a priesthood.

The temple is open to explore and consists of: the Main Hall, the Plaza, the Kotani Hall, various conference rooms, a cafeteria, a child care room, and a nurse’s office.

In Japanese, “Shakaden” means the “House of Shakyamuni.” It is a place where anyone can seek to further practice the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra.

Interestingly, as Reiyūkai Buddhism has at its roots in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, the temple houses a reservoir with 400 tonnes of drinking water for use in the event that Tokyo is struck by another major disaster.

Note: As this is an active Temple, no photo are allowed in the expansive interior.

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Kyomizu Dera – Kyoto, Japan

Sai-mon (west gate)

Kyomizu Dera

(81)  75.551.1234

Open Hours:
6:00-18:00    Daily
18:00-21:00 Special dates

Located up mount Otowain above Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, Kyomizu Dera is one of the most impressive structures of ancient Japan (and holds one of the best views in Kyoto!).  The walk up to the temple itself is a mesmerizing trek.  One eases up into the temple passing the massive structure beneath. By the time you get to the temple itself, you are already filled with awe.

The main hall was built in 778 and reconstructed in 1633.  The innermost sanctuary holds the image of eleven-headed Thousand-armed Kannon Bodhisattva. The deity of great mercy and compassion “Kiyomizu Kannon-san.”

The Zuigu-do hall, reconstructed in 1718, holds as it’s principal image  the Daizuigu Bodhisattva. Underneath this hall rests the Tainai meguri – regarded as the womb of Zuigu-Botatsu (symbolized by the Sanskrit character हर “Hara”) who is  known as the motherly Buddha.  The Tainai meguri is a pitch dark passage way, with only an oversized Buddhist bead string along the wall to guide your hand as you maze your way down to the Zuigu stone.

We visited the temple at night, after a lovely walk through the Higashiyama streets. We were quite lucky as the temple was open with a special light presentation!

above photo © Kyomizu dera (Hondo Main hall )
above photo © Kyomizu dera (Hondo Main hall )
above photo © Kyomizu dera (Hondo Main hall )
above photo © Kyomizu dera (Hondo Main hall )
Sai-mon (west gate)

Okochi Sanso – Kyoto, Japan


Okochi Sanso

(81)  75.872-2233

Open Hours:
9:00-17:00    Daily

Located a 15 minute walk from Tenryūji Temple, on the slopes of Mount Ogura, at the end of the famous Arashiyama Tenryū-ji Bamboo Forest , is hidden this most beautiful place; Okochi Sanso.  The former home and garden of the actor Denjirō Ōkōchi  (1898–1962) the villa became public after his death in 1962.

Ōkōchi -san’s movie career spanned over 5 decades from 1926 – 1962.  Escaping from the bustle of set, He retreated to the land and designed (mostly himself) this calming collection of gardens and buildings through the 1930s – 40s.

Narrow pathways, past the vistas and forests, will bring you to  a small museum (for Denjirō Ōkōchi and his life in film), as well as the Jibutsudō – an original  Meiji Era building. On your short walk, you can experience a most wonderful view of the fall foliage should you be present during the Autumn; and, with assumption, the same must be true for the spring bloom!

Keep your eyes open for a very discrete path.  Via this hidden corridor, there is a secret building most visitors miss.  Inside one will find, on one side, yet another perfect zen garden and on the back, a view to the mountains.  Lovingly, this room has tables prepared paper and ink for any visitor to practice calligraphy.

After all Kyoto’s palaces and temples, one could really feel the personal love that Okochi Sanso put into his own home.


okochi-sanso-030Tea garden in front of the Tekisuian