(Guan Gong Temple)
The Yokohama Kanteibyo, Guan Di Miao, 横滨关帝庙, was founded in 1862 when a Chinese migrant brought a sculpture of Guan Gong, 关公，from China and enshrined it in a modest temple.
This small temple attracted fellow migrants to worship and soon became a central locus in the local community. By 1871, the Yokohama Kanteibyo had become a major landmark in Yokohama Chinatown 横滨中华街.
The temple was destroyed by the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and suffered damages during the 1945 Allies air attack. In 1981, it was strike by lighting and caught fire. In 1986, another fire engulfed the temple.
Every time a disaster struck, the local community came together and rebuilt the temple. Each rebuilding project produced a more magnificent temple. After the 1986 fire, the rebuilding ceremony was conducted on 14 August 1990 to launch the reconstruction that was scheduled in 3 stages. The project was completed in April 2000.
The sculpture of Guan Gong is on the central shrine with his son Guan Ping, 关平, and assistant Zhou Cang, 周沧, by his side. To the devotee’s right is a shrine to Guan Yin, 观音菩萨, and to the left is Di Mu Niang Niang, 地母娘娘. There is also a shrine to the Earth Deity, 福德正神.
Facing the main hall is platform for devotees to pay respect to the Jade Emperor, 玉帝上帝.
The Yokohama Kanteibyo functions as a spiritual, cultural, and social site for Overseas Chinese in Yokohama. It is also a major tourist attraction drawing overseas Chinese tourists as well as visitors from all over the world.
The local committee and authority’s support of Yokohama Kanteibyo is evident in many parts of Yokohama Chinatown. There are display signs on the roads to guide visitors to the temple. Even ceremonies in the temple are communicated via banners all over Chinatown. The temple location is prominently communicated in all tourist literatures. Perhaps most outstanding of all is an archway announcing the road leading to the Yokohama Kanteibyo.
The founding of Yokohama Kanteibyo demonstrates how Chinese migrants bring their faith and culture with them to the host country. The values embodied by Guan Gong served as inspiration for these new migrants as they began life in a new land. The importance of these values and the respect for Guan Gong is demonstrated by the effort, resources, and commitment that were invested to rebuild the temple whenever it is damaged. With each rebuilding, a grander temple emerges for the community.
The Yokohama Kanteibyo serves the spiritual, social and cultural needs of the Chinese population and also as a tourist site. Its presence in Yokohama Chinatown creates both social and economic capital for the community.
Yokohama Chinatown, Japan