In 1870 the sparsely populated village of Yokohama was designated as the harbour to be used by the Western ships which were coming to trade in Japan following the country’s opening to the West. Along with the ships came western culture and Christianity, and it was felt that something had to be done to protect the native culture. Through the offices of the governor of Musashi Province an imperial decree was issued approving the transfer of the spirit of the Kami of Ise Jingu, Amaterasu-sume-Okami, to a shrine in Yokohama. The shrine chosen was located on Ise-no-mori-no-yama (伊勢の森の山) on the coast near what was then Tobemura village. In April 1870 it was ceremoniously moved to its present site in Nogeyama and recognised as the tutelary shrine for all of Yokohama.
In November of the same year the then prefectural governor, Iseki Moritome (井関盛艮), petitioned the Dajokan and the Jingikan to have the shrine recognised as one where Ise Jingu could be worshipped from afar (遥拝所) and to allow it to be developed befitting its position as the paramount shrine of Kanagawa Prefecture. Permission was granted the following month.
Following this, the two other ports which had been opened to Western trade, Kobe and Nagasaki, also opened shrines where the Kami of Ise Jingu could be worshipped from afar. In March 1876 the Kyobunsho (教部省), an offshoot of the the Dajokan, basically decreed
From Merged Shrines
Kizuki Jinja 杵築宮
Omiwa Jinja 大神神社
Annual Festival: May 15
that unlike the shrines in Kobe and Nagasaki, which had just adopted the “worshipped from afar” phrase into their names, the Iseyama shrine had as its sole deity Amaterasu-Okami and would therefore be allowed to incorporate “Kotaijingu” into its name (Kotaijingu is the centre of worship at Ise Jingu).
Something that happened around the turn of the century paints the shrine in a somewhat less than edifying light. In 1991 it built a luxury hotel, including wedding facilities, on adjacent land. It was financed by borrowing ¥8.7 billion from three banks secured against part of the shrine’s property. The hotel was managed by a firm called Kaiyotei, which in turn was managed by the then hereditary guji (chief priest) who, together with relatives, owned a majority of Kaiyotei’s shares.
The following year, however, the bubble burst and, in addition to the collapse in discretionary spending negatively affecting the hotel’s wedding business, it also suffered from the closure of a section of the nearby Sakuragicho Station and the development of the Minato Mirai 21 business district.
The income from Kaiyotei became insufficient to repay its debt and in March 2001 the banks foreclosed on that part of the shrine’s property which had been put up as collateral. Taking a grave view of the situation the Kanagawa Prefectural Shrine Office stepped in. As well as negotiating with the banks it took possession of the shrine’s land, with the exception of that part on which the hotel stood, and ran the shrine itself. This ensured that the shrine’s assets were not put up for auction. The association also forced the guji to resign, the first time since Meiji that a hereditary guji had been forced to resign.
These developments meant that the shrine effectively became a real estate management company—the real estate being the hotel—but the value of the hotel fell sharply and on April 17, 2002 the Yokohama District Court granted the shrine’s request for voluntary bankruptcy. Between them the shrine and the hotel had liabilities of slightly over ¥8.5bn. This was the first time for a shrine registered with the AoSS to go bankrupt. In November 2006 Kaiyotei, the hotel operator, was officially declared bankrupt and closed down.
Following all this the shrine was restructured, and regaining its independence from the Kanagawa Prefectural Shrine Office reverted to being a Religious Corporation, the normal legal status for a shrine.
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