Whilst travelling through Chiba a few months ago on the Tsukuba Line I was looking at my maps app and checking out what places were nearby and by some miraculous chance I came across what looked like a picturesque castle. To have stumbled upon it was quite unlikely given how difficult it’s since been to locate it again, including for this post!
The only castle I’ve been to in Chiba (not including Cinderella’s Castle at Tokyo Disneyland which is actually located in Chiba Prefecture!) is Chiba-jo Castle in Chibashi Inohana Park (1-6-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku) which doubles up as the Chiba Folk Museum and is pretty much unknown by most Tokyo-ite folk it seems!
Take the Tobu-Urbanpark line for 14 minutes from Kashiwa and you will arrive at Unga Station, and a kilometre on foot then takes you to this castle. Except it isn’t really a castle as it’s all just part of RHK Hall (2683-1 Yamazaki, Noda) which is some kind of religious cult organisation.
I didn’t know that beforehand but certainly suspected when everyone was far more friendly and said hello in Japanese as I approached the entrance. Greeting strangers only really happens in the countryside in Japan but this was not what I would call a true rural area although it was quite different from Tokyo……or even Kashiwa! Once inside every single person greeted me and that was many, many people!
They were all wandering around in white robes and one of them came to tell me off for taking the photo below (I guess no photos are allowed on the premises) but he was friendly enough and I asked if they had an English pamphlet or some information on the place at all. This then led to a few people being asked and a bit of panic all round as they searched for an English speaker. This was despite all conversation having been conducted in Japanese at this point!
Anyway, a friendly young girl was eventually thrust in my direction to present me with a newsletter in English. She was mostly just surprised to see a foreign visitor so the conversation was more about our backgrounds rather than the actual background of where we were. I sadly never did find out why there was a castle-looking building on site! I did discover that this location was the headquarters and that there are about 20 other RHK facilities (branches, places of worship and practitioners centres) all over Japan from Sapporo in the north to Okinawa in the south.
RHK stands for Reiha no Hikari Kyokai (light of divine power) by the way and the organisation was founded in nearby Matsudo in 1957. It’s highly revered founder was called Goshugojin-sama and he was supposedly sent by God to reconnect between Heaven and Earth for salvation and World peace. There are many testimonies from people who received divine intervention or whatever to help them recover from all manner of ailments.
This place has rather limited opening hours as it is only open between 9am and 2pm from Tuesday to Sunday. There are bonsai tree plants inside as well as a small collection of caged animals. I’m still none the wiser for what else actually goes on there. Meditation and prayer??
Despite not being religious in any way, I am no stranger to alternative religions in recent times, particularly ones with such unique architecture. Click here to read about five religious cult buildings in Japan
The walk to and from RHK Hall is an easy kilometre or so and took around ten minutes. The “highlight” along the way was this bridge that crosses the Tone-unga River. It really did prove to be a bridge that transported me to a another world for a short time!
The only reason I usually ever go to Kashiwa Station is to see Kashiwa Reysol play in the J-League but sadly that hasn’t happened this season (yet?) due to the Corona Virus situation. It was March when I went on this trip so football in Japan had already been postponed (the State of Emergency had not yet kicked in though) but there were still advertisements all round for so-called upcoming games.
It was quite nice to see a different part of this area of Chiba but I don’t really want to return until there is some live football to see.
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Chiba-jo Castle’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Top 10……Chiba Sights’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: The Totem Pole Park Located Just Outside Of Tokyo’
Click here to read ‘Return To J1 Football Team’s Forgotten Secondary Stadium’