Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mini-Shrines in Tokyo

Depending where you are in Tokyo it can look either traditional with old narrow streets or very modern with skyscrapers and gleaming sidewalks.  One of the things I like about the city and Japan in general is the mix of both tradition and modern in everyday surroundings.  Walk around the corner and you meet a samurai and a businessman in a suit talking to each other.  Just kidding, the samurai is probably a cosplayer, but you get my meaning.

In some very modern surroundings, you can find Shinto or Buddhist shrines tucked in inconspicuous locations.  You could almost walk by them or not know that they were there if you weren't looking for them.  Often, the shrines have been moved from their original location, especially if you find that they are on the rooftop of a new building.  It kind of reminds me of Hong Kong where you can also find little shrines to the prosperity gods tucked in an alley or in a corner of the lobby of a modern skyscraper.

Here are a few of these little shrines I saw on my last trip to Tokyo. 

Yuraku Inari Shrine in Yurakucho near Yurakucho Station
This is a tiny Shinto shrine tucked in behind some utility building.
From a distance
A little closer.
The foxes are a dead give away of a Shinto shrine.
A Shrine on the Street in Omotesando
Was just walking by and saw this tucked in on a corner.  I didn't get any details.  There was another one like this on the main street outside the Shinagawa Prince Hotel where I was staying too.  It was like big building, shop front, shop front, shrine, shop front, pachinko parlour, parking lot...

Rooftop of the Matsuya Department Store
It was pouring rain and I was in a sheltered spot on the department store roof where I could rest in some nice chairs.  This would have been a rooftop cafe on a nicer day, but it was pretty empty.  There was a big bank of vending machines, and this Shinto shrine across from them (komainu, lion-dog guardians, much like the lion guardians found in Buddhist shrines).  These shrines are there to bring good fortune to the business and they can represent some other event too, like being spared from fire or earthquake, etc.
A very nice shrine in appearance.
Shrine On The Roof of the Aqua City Mall in Odaiba
This is a dramatically situated little shrine with its red picket fence and view of the Fuji TV Building behind it.  Very cool to see this shrine here on a man-made island on top of a mall.
Very well defined, small grounds.
This is a pretty good blog post about rooftop shrines I found.

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