One of the most popular Tokyo Fox posts ever is ‘Music Video’s Filmed In Japan‘ and ever since it appeared in June 2014 people have been commenting on it to let me know of other promotional videos which were filmed in part in Japan. Recently, one kind lady sent me a long list of videos including the locations used and the time that they appear. Such detail that I was very happy to see included as it makes my job a lot easier! She mentioned that Reiyukai Shakaden was included in a couple of videos (below) by will.i.am and The Weeknd which bemused me as I’d never even heard of the place. I like to think that I know the sights of Tokyo reasonably well so how could such a place have been amiss from my radar?!
Well, given that it’s hidden away on a side street in the vicinity of Tokyo Tower, it’s probably not too surprising that I’ve never noticed it when passing the area on various cycling jaunts. As I turned off the main street I could see a glimpse of it’s black slanting pyramid-style roof crowned by a couple of gold rings. It became more and more impressive as I got closer and one would not be wrong in thinking you’re standing in front of a spaceship from a science-fiction movie rather than a temple of modern Japanese religion. The perfect work of architecture that would have undoubtedly have been included in my ‘Tokyo Modern Architecture‘ post if I knew about it back then!
There was absolutely no one around when I turned up one lunchtime which was perfect for capturing some shots of the steps that lead up to the main hall entrance. On first impressions these steps and the doors at the top of them seem better suited to the kind of arena where a mega global pop-star might enter the fray.
A young woman worker spoke to me in English as I first entered the ground floor area and she kindly escorted me up to the second floor where the Main Hall is. As we took the elevator up, she asked me how I knew of the place and I said the will.i.am video (watch it here) which I was kind of embarrassed to admit as it’s pretty sad to know of such a cultural place only because of its appearance in a music video!
Inside was slightly dark and gloomy and lined with red felt carpet and huge red benches which can accommodate up to 3500 people. There’s an eight metre Buddha that was carved over a six year period from a thousand-year-old camphor tree. It is enclosed in a special chamber to preserve it.
After four years of construction, Reiyukai Shakaden was completed in 1975 and is used as a meeting place and social centre for Reiyukai members and local community….as well as for filming music videos it seems! The complex consists of the Main Hall (2F), the plaza (1F), Kotani Hall (B1F), a conference room, a cafe, a nursery, a medical centre and bizarrely it has a reservoir containing 400 tonnes of drinking water for use in the event that Tokyo is struck by a major disaster.
Reiyukai Shakaden is far from being a day-tripper experience but there’s a wealth of nearby attractions such as Tokyo Tower, Shiba-koen, Zojoji Temple, Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills, Mori Art Museum, 21-21 Design Site, Roppongi itself and much more. Combining it with a few of them can make your visit to this area of Minato-ku more worthwhile.
Reiyukai Shakaden Temple can be found at 1-7-8 Azabudai, Minato-ku and is open between 6am and 5pm.