JAPAN | The Old and the New at Toranomon’s Konpira Shrine

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Toranomon's Konpira Shrine in Tokyo

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.

Cold Night in TokyoAlong 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.

Toranomon’s Konpira Shrine in JapanWe 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.

Beautiful Curving Roof of Toranomon's Konpira ShrineI 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.

The Bronze Torii at Toranomon's Konpira ShrineAnd 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.

Toranomon's Konpira Shrine in TokyoThe 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.

Surrounded by Skyscrapers, Toranomon's Konpira Shrine in TokyoI 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.

Minato Ku Location Map 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

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  1. Structures that has cultural value should be preserved and should always be considered in urban planning for the Philippine Government.

    Paging, Country's Architects and Engineers. This post is dedicated for you....:-).

    1. I think the whole travel blogging community agrees with your sentiments Bonz

  2. nice photos. did you take these photos yourself?

  3. Hi Christian, this brings back good memories. Malapit office ko dyan sa shrine back when I was working in Tokyo. They really did a good job preserving their shrines and temples. In this particular shrine, I always see "salaryman" (their term for typical male office workers) pass by usually after office hours for a quick visit. The old and the new coming together really is something. Can you imagine if there's an old bahay na bato in the heart of steel and glass Makati? What a sight it would be. It's good to see this shrine again thru your lens. Nice job!

    1. Oi Suzette musta na?! Banda dyan ka pala nagwo-work dati! I actually envy you for having spent a few years of your life in Japan :)