Shinto (the ethnic religion of Japanese people) and Buddhism are the two major religions in Japan. Confucianism and Christianity have a fair few followers if I can be so vague. Religious organisations founded since the middle of the 19th century are considered to be “new religions” in Japan so it means there is a great diversity and number of them.
Back in August last year I made huge efforts in cycling to a Mahikari place on the Izu Peninsula. In response to that a subscriber told me of a similar one from the same kind of cult organisation in Ibaraki Prefecture so on a recent trip to Tsukuba City I took a slight detour to see if I could find it. For the record, Mahikari was founded in 1959 by Yoshikazu Okada who believed true (ma) light (hikari) was “a method of spiritual purification that cleanses the spirit, mind, and body, and serves as an expedient to attaining happiness.” No, I have no idea what any of that means either. I was just there to admire the architecture.
Bampakukinenkoen Station is a couple of stops before Tuskuba on the Tsukuba Express Line. From there, a short bus ride (200 yen) took me to Takasuka Kita stop where Yokoshi Tomonokai Religious Association (5752-1 Kamigo, Tsukuba) is located a ten minute walk away. Sadly, it had long been closed down, was fenced off and there was a booth with guard near the entrance too. I do wonder if that is really all necessary!
It may have been difficult to get right up close to it but that doesn’t mean you can’t view it from afar right? Well sadly it’s still not that easy as it’s surrounded by bushes and trees on all sides and is also located next to a highway which is not accessible to pedestrians.
Where there’s a will though, there’s a way and I managed to scramble up the banks to the raised highway to take a couple of shots from across the road. This futuristic temple’s mysterious architecture began it’s construction in 1996. It’s shiny golden dragon bone can be spotted from afar in this area of fields and some of the building’s transparent roofing gives the impression of super high dimensional light which I guess all fits in with the beliefs of the religion which were once taught inside.
Bonus: There are a few other religious cult buildings around Japan and they always seem to possess really interesting-looking buildings. Here are details of another four I’ve been to in recent years.
* Rissho Kosei-kai Headquarters @ 2-11-1 Wada, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
This one has been described as looking like a birthday cake. It’s actually a large cathedral that was constructed in 1964 and is surrounded by palm trees to give off an atmosphere reminiscent of a tropical resort.
* Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan @ 1524-4 Hiekawa, Izu-shi, Shizuoka
State-of-the-art technology supports the heavy roof of this impressive five-tiered titanium gable roof which is made to look the same whether being viewed from the north, south, east or west. This independent organisation, translating as the World Divine Light Organisation, was founded by Yoshikazu Okada in 1959 and nearly three decades later it established this main shrine in Mount Amagi on the Izu Peninsula. More details here
* Reiyukai Shakaden Temple @ 1-7-8 Azabudai, Minato-ku
After four years of construction, it 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! It has featured in a couple of music videos most notably ‘#thatPOWER‘ by will.i.am featuring Justin Bieber. Besides it’s more common uses, it bizarrely has a reservoir containing 400 tonnes of drinking water for use in the event that Tokyo is struck by a major disaster. More details here
* Seen Grove Museum In Sea @ Ono Kamegaoka 10701, Hatsukaichi-Shi, Hiroshima
It’s not easy to get to but this interesting-looking building is worth a slight detour if you’ve got time before or after the inevitable Miyajima trip. It’s owned by some kind of religious cult and can supposedly be viewed from the famous shrine on Miyajima. It is believed that, when looking through the floating torii gate, you can see this strange white building in the distance with three golden buddha’s on the roof. More details here
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