Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kanteibyo - The Technicolour Temple of Yokohama

18th August, 2010 -  One of the places in Yokohama's Chinatown that should not be missed is the Kanteibyo temple (and a place we visited way back in 2003). It's not a subtle temple, and it would be hard to miss it in the street (just down from Chikyumon or Earth Gate, ie Gate 6 on my previous post). This is also referred to as the Kan Ti Miao temple.

The temple is as much a celebration of colour as it is the enshrined statue of Guan Yu... the famous Chinese general under Liu Bei who would become the first emperor following the collapse of the Han Dynasty (around 200AD). This story became the basis of the movie epic Red Cliffs. His life was one of romance and myth, and indeed his military exploits leading up to the civil war lead to him being deified around 600AD... although it's not clear to me if he's deified as the God of War or the God of Business (perhaps at one level these are one and the same). The temple was first constructed in 1862, and quickly became a tourist attraction, as it remains today. It had a chequered history however, having been destroyed in the 1923 earthquake, then again in WWII, then burnt down in 1981... AND in 1986. Each time being re-built in even grander scale. This temple was completed in 2000.

 The temple gate is the most immediately striking element of the temple... the detail is exquisite.

From inside the temple, it's not quite as dramatic, but not by much.

Like in many of these temples, there can be found a large urn/container for burning joss-sticks... and it's always thought to bring good luck to waft the incense smoke from the sticks over yourself.

And of course, it wouldn't feel like a Chinese temple without some lions.... 

But the big attraction is of course the main hall, where Guan Yu is in permanent residence. Now, I have to admit that I am no expert on Chinese history, though I did watch Red Cliffs (both of them)... bit boring actually, but that's a different story. Anyhow, I'd advise hitting the web if you want to know more... but apparently he is often depicted as having a red-face. Perhaps he was just a very angry man... I don't know.... He's synonymous with loyalty and bravery. He also came to a gruesome end... in two parts (his head being one of them).

Although, in a scene reminiscent of an Austin Powers movie, it would appear that good ol' Guan Yu had his very own, mini-me. I wish I had a mini-me... well, I suppose I should stop calling my son that... ?:-)

And whilst you're here paying your respects, don't forget that the hall itself is a wonderful sight as well. It's nice to just stand and admire it for a while.  And yes, this temple is fan-enhanced for the devout (and tourist alike).

Once again... the level of detail everywhere is incredible as it is ubiquitous... and colourful. 

The temple is open freely to the public... and I mean free... from 9am to 7pm at night. They do request (if you want to take photos) to make a small donation... well, actually, the way they say it is that you should pay to pray, and then whilst you're being all humble and reverent you can snap off a few shots for extra good luck.

The final thought on the temple is that in most photos of the temple, the photographers go to great lengths to hide one dominating aspect of it. The road in front of the temple is a jungle of overhead power/telephone/internet cables. 

Whilst they may power the vitality of Chinatown, I can't help but feel a bit sad that even here a little more effort could have been made to keep these low key. Then again, this is Japan, and it would seem the Japanese have an ability to look past the unpleasantness in front of them, to the beauty behind. That's not such a bad thing I suppose...