Shakaden Reiyukai Temple – Tokyo, Japan - Atlas Obscura
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Tokyo, Japan

Shakaden Reiyukai Temple

Starship-temple contains 400 tons of drinking water and offers free Japanese lessons. 

Rising out of central Tokyo, not far from Tokyo Tower or the Emperor’s Palace, this bizarre, black, pyramidal structure is a temple of the “Inner Trip Reiyukai.” The ITR movement is a modern Japanese religion which emerged as an offshoot of Buddhism in the 1930s, although their website describes the sect as an “Non-Governmental Organization in the field of mental, physical and spiritual well-being and education.” The Inner Trip Reiyukai headquarters, known as the Shakaden Temple, which contains many smaller enclosures under its giant shadow, was built in 1975. Note the billboard on a nearby skyscraper saying simply, “Inner Trip.”

Despite the fact that the complex looks like something out of Star Trek, the sect is less interested in laser guns than in promoting world peace. Though the temple may seem austere in comparison to traditional Buddhist temples, the monks are always amiable to visitors. The building is open to the public and offers free Japanese lessons for foreigners, a temple with an eight-meter Buddha carved from thousand-year-old camphor wood, and most oddly, a reservoir containing 400 tons of drinking water, to be used during emergencies of an unspecified nature.

Know Before You Go

3 min walk from Kamiyacho subway stop, Hibiya Line