Yokohama Mazu Temple,
The Yokohama Mazu Miao, 横滨妈祖庙, is the latest Chinese Temple in Yokohama Chinatown, 横滨中华街. This new Mazu temple came into being when a plot of land in Yokohama Chinatown was being prepared for construction of an apartment block. As part of the "Citizen-based town planning", a dialogue was initiated between the developers and local stakeholders.
The Yokohama Chinatown community was concern about the apartment project, as it will have a negative impact on their physical and cultural landscape. The community appealed and negotiated with the developers and eventually bought the land from them for 990 million yen. This amount was raised through contributions from all over Japan and after the acquisition; plans were made for a Mazu Temple to be built in its place.
After a few years of hard work, the Yokohama Mazu Miao, 横滨妈祖, was finally officially opened on 17 March 2006. The main Mazu 妈祖 sculpture sits on the central altar. In front of this main sculpture are three smaller sculptures of Mazu. The central sculpture represents the Yokohama Mazu. To the right (from devotees perspective) is the Jinmian Mazu, 金面妈祖,from Tainan, Taiwan while a Mazu from Meizhou, 湄洲妈祖, is placed on the left.
Located by the side of the altar are the two assistants of mazu, General who can see a thousand li 千里眼将军on the right and General who can hear a thousand li on the left 顺风耳将军(from devotee’s perspective). A side shrine is dedicated to the Earth Deities 福德正神.
The Yokohama Mazu Miao is a spiritual centre for the community and a major tourist attraction in Yokohama Chinatown for visitors from all over the world. To facilitate tourists, directions to the temple were prominently displayed on road signs as well as communicated via tourist maps.
The founding of Yokohama Mazu Miao is an excellent case study demonstrating how city planning can produce win-win situations when the process involves the local community. At the same time, it shows that modernity and development need not be about flashy “modern” buildings to create economic value. Rather, it is about development weaved into the local social fabric.
What has also been clearly illuminated is the passion the local community has for their locality and the Japanese authority’s support for the local community.
Yokohama Mazu Miao is therefore a spiritual centre, tourist attraction and a unique case study for city planning and the positive effects of mutual co-operation among social stakeholders in the shaping of common spaces.
Yokohama Mazu Temple
Yokohama Chinatown, Japan
Signpost directing devotees and visitors to the temple
Main hall of Yokohama Mazu temple