One of the things I really like about Tokyo is their appreciation of history. You’d think that since the city’s real estate is highly valued, they’d tear down every old useless structure they have and supplant it with glitzy office buildings. Well, politicians do that in Manila, but not in Tokyo.
Along with Sony Alpha’s camera ambassadors Pilar Tuason and Manny Librodo, we strolled down the streets of Toranomon after our very Japanese banquet at Sakura Jaya restaurant en route to Hotel Okura. It was quite cold as we navigated the sidewalks, stuffing our bare hands inside our jacket pockets.
We turned a corner and surprisingly found a Shinto shrine nestled right between towering masses of steel and glass buildings. I was simply in awe as to how the Japanese with all their ultra-modern metropolises still gingerly and respectfully hold on to their history and culture.
I asked our Japanese companion about the small temple; he said it’s called the Konpira Shrine, named after the guardian and deity of seafarers and fishermen. There is no exact marker on its construction date (or I really just don’t know how to read Japanese), but he said that it is believed to be made during the seventeenth century.
There are numerous shrines dedicated to the deity Konpira (金比羅), its main one located in Kagawa Prefecture. But in Tokyo, Toranomon’s Konpira Shrine is the largest, being located at one of the old gates of Edo Castle.
And although its size is dwarfed by the neighboring skyscrapers, it still maintains a grandiosity missing in the adjacent structures. Its ornate multi-tiered roofs, the graceful curving eaves, its bronze torii gates and the simple yet somehow complex trims on its walls easily surpass its glass and steel counterparts.
The design is said to be from the Edo or Tokugawa Period of Japan. Kyoto was still the country’s capital then, but since the Tokugawa Shogunate is seated at Edo, a fishing village in those days, it became the Japan’s de facto capital.
That Edo, which literally translated means bay entrance, is now the bustling city called Tokyo.
I recall reading a quote how a city without old buildings is a city without a soul. That’s one quote you can never say about Japan.
Toranomon Konpira Shrine
Address: 1丁目-2-7 Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo
Contact Number: (03) 3501-9355
GPS Coordinates: 35.669618,139.747973
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here