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Kanda Myojin is more beautiful at night

In September 2020, I went to Kanda Myojin for a night photo session.  It’s a beautiful shrine during the day, but more so after the sun goes down.  The grounds are dark at night, while some lights illuminate the main gate and parts of the worship hall.  Surrounded by darkness, they gained an ethereal look.  I was thrilled with the results of my time there.

Kanda Myojin and courtyard at night

While photographing, I realized something about shrines.  After daily activity ceases, people are still there.  Look in the shadows. You can see their shapes.  It made me wonder why.

Torii gate with Zuishin-mon gate behind

During the day, the Tokyo shrines such as Kanda Myojin are busy places.  People go to them to pray and see other people.  After all, one of their functions is to be a societal hub.  At night, it’s different.  Of course, many still come to pray, but many just sit by themselves.  I get the feeling they are looking for some solitude.

Tokyo is a big place with an enormous population.  If you only talk about its twenty-three wards, it is eight million people.  But, if you refer to the Greater Tokyo Area, that’s different.  That one includes Kanagawa, Ibaraki, Saitama, and some other prefectures.  The United Nations put it at about thirty-eight million in 2016.  If you look at its urban population density, it is over 2000/km².  But, in the inner areas, it soars to 8000/km².  Whichever figure you take, the numbers are very high.  There are a lot of people in this city!

Zuishin-mon gate entrance

That can make it hard to find your personal space here.  Even in your own home, someone will be near you.  Walls can be thin in Tokyo, especially for people with lower incomes or living in older buildings.  They can hear what is happening in your apartment.  The reverse is true too.

Kanda Myojin with Tokyo Skytree behind

Did you have a hard day at the office or school?  Or perhaps have a personal problem?  Where do you go to collect your thoughts?  Or think things through?  Shrines, and temples, provide the perfect place.

Everyone needs some quiet time.  There are occasions when you need to sit and do nothing for a short time.  You need to collect your thoughts before heading back into the world.  Shrines and temples are the perfect places.

Zuishin-mon gate interior

By their very nature, they are quiet.  No one will approach you.  Everyone in Japan has grown up with them; they feel comfortable.  They have benches; you have a place to sit.  You have your privacy in that most public of places.  Many people appear just to sit and think.  Some play games, others read, and a few smoke (some smoking areas still exist at some temples and shrines).  Every so often, a couple finds a particularly dark corner to chat and hold hands.

What everyone thinks about that, I don’t know, and I won’t ask!  They need their privacy.  Privacy can be hard to find in Tokyo.

Zuishin-mon gate top level

Kanda Myojin gets a very high score from me for night photography.  In the darkness, it looks very mysterious.  It is also the perfect place for people to come and sit and recharge their batteries for a while.  Can you spot any of them in these pictures?  You’ll need to look hard as these are all long exposures, so most people disappeared.

By the way, I used my Fujifilm X-T2 to take these photos. I’m interested to see the X-T3 would fare at Kanda Myojin at night. You’ll be the first to know when I go!

Zuishin-mon gate at night

And if you want to photograph Kanda Myojin at night, the lights are on until 11 pm.  You can also check out my main article about the shrine for full details.  It is a great place in Tokyo. If you have questions or comments, please leave them down below.  

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  1. Pingback: Kanda Myojin - for businessmen, otaku, and IT - Tokyo in Pics

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