The story of Yokohama Kantei-byo
Here, in Yokohama Chinatown,
there is a God of Business in
"Kantei-byo" and a Goddess of Sea in "Maso-byo".
They are watching over
the people of Chinatown.
They have a long history and deep story here.
Today, let's look at the story of Yokohama Kantei-byo.
1800 years ago, in China, there was a hero named Guan Yu.
He was a man who always kept his promises.
One day, one of his friends, Liu Bei, lost a battle against an enemy.
At that time, Guan Yu protected Liu Bei's family
with all his might, because he promised him.
“I won’t let your precious family be in danger.”
Guan Yu was also very good at calculation.
He could precisely calculate the number of people, weapons, time,
and the amount of food required for a battle.
These legends of Guan Yu had been talked about for
many decades, and hundreds of years in China.
People started to call him “the God of business”,
as he represented the importance of calculation
and keeping promises in business.
These stories are also talked about far away
in Yokohama Chinatown.
Eventually Guan Yu’s statue came to Yokohama.
Chinese people in Yokohama started gathering at the temple
with the statue of Guan Yu and praying to him.
“I wish I could live with peace of mind in Yokohama,
the place far away from my hometown.”
After that, they began to build a bigger temple to show respect for Guan Yu.
This is Kantei-byo.
Everyone in Yokohama Chinatown was glad and celebrated together.
But a few days later, a large earthquake, the Great Kanto Earthquake, occurred.
Houses and stores collapsed and fires broke out.
Kantei-byo was also destroyed.
People of Chinatown lost their houses and Guan Yu due to the earthquake.
However, they did not give up.
Shortly after, they built a new Kantei-byo again.
The new stature of Guan Yu was standing at the back of the new building.
Sometimes children came to him and prayed for success in their studies.
“I wish I could get good grades in my exams at school”
However, this time a war broke out
and many bombs fell from the sky.
Chinatown was wrapped in flames
and the stature of Guan Yu also burned down.
Soon after the war, new Kantei-byo was established again and
a new statue of Guan Yu was also built.
However, at that time a lot of people in Chinatown caught diseases.
Those diseases were infectious and many people died.
People could not change the situation,
so they paraded the town with the statue of Guan Yu on a portable shrine.
When Guan Yu came near, even people who were sick in bed came out to see him and prayed.
“Please cure the diseases…”
After a while, people recovered from their diseases as if
their prayers had been answered by Guan Yu.
The people of Chinatown could return to their peaceful lives.
One New Year’s Day, Kantei-byo suddenly burned down!
“Kantei-byo is burning!”
Neighbors who heard it ran to Kantei-byo in a hurry.
By the time they arrived,
almost half of the building was
already burned. But fortunately,
the statue of Guan Yu did not burn,
and there were no injuries.
People who visited everyday were sad
that Kantei-byo had burned down.
They soon began to rebuild it, but a lot of money was required.
They had financial difficulties,
but people of Chinatown donated money
because Guan Yu saved them many times before.
Four years after the fire, they built current,
the most excellent Kantei-byo ever by cooperating with each other,
discussing a lot, and trial and error.
The news became a big topic, even in China.
Every day since then, a lot of people visit Kantei-byo whether it rains or not.
Today the statue of Guan Yu is always watching over the people of Chinatown.
Written by Haruhi Usui
Cooperated by General incorporated Foundation Yokohama Kantei-byo
Izumi Ito (Yokohama Archives of History)
Translated by Satoi Anzai
Supported by Dariya Oblivantseva
'Kantei-byo and Yokohama Overseas Chinese' Editorial Committee (2014)
"The Anniversary of the enshrinement of the Kanseiteikun,
Kantei-byo and Yokohama Overseas Chinese" Co. Ltd. Jizai
The Head of Researchers at Yokohama Archives of History, Izumi Ito (2009)
"The anniversary of the opening of the Port of Yokohama,
Yokohama Chinatown 150 years ーRakuchiseikon no Saigetsu"
Yokohama Archives of History