|ISKCON New Gaya in the Edogawa suburb of Tokyo|
The temple, dubbed “ISKCON New Gaya” after the Indian pilgrimage and site of many of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, opened its doors to the public with a two-day festival back on July 2nd and 3rd, as did a new pure vegetarian Govinda’s restaurant and a Vedic Culture Center.
Around 1,500 people from cities across Japan such as Osaka, Kofu, and Nagoya attended over the two days, including ISKCON Japan Governing Body Comissioner Bhanu Swami and Indian Ambassador to Japan Mr. Alok Prasad.
Leading guests to its decorated front entrance, a “green carpet” stretched around the three-storey temple, which cost 200 million Japanese Yen and is located in a largely Hindu Tokyo suburb that is easily accessibly by train from downtown Tokyo.
Devotees celebrated the opening of the new temple with a drama performance by children of the Vedic Culture School, an installation ceremony and abhisekha for the brand new Deities of Sri Sri Radha Govinda and long-worshipped Sri Sri Nita-Gaurasundara, and a presentation by Bhanu Swami. There was also a speech by the Indian Ambassador, plenty of enthusiastic kirtan, and a sumptuous feast.
|The Deities of Sri-Sri Radha-Govinda rest before being installed|
It’s a new start for ISKCON Tokyo, which has been through a lot since it was first established in late 1969 by Sudama Dasa and Balimardana Dasa from the USA.
“The first temple in Tokyo was a one-story Japanese-style house in a densely populated part of central Tokyo named Shibuya,” recalls Satyadeva Dasa, an early Prabhupada disciple who is originally from San Francisco but joined ISKCON in Tokyo in August 1970. “It had three small tatami rooms—tatami is a type of traditional Japanese flooring made with rice straw—with a bathroom and kitchen.”
As was often the case with the early ISKCON missionaries, Balimardana soon left Japan to open other temples in Hong Kong and Australia. Seeing Sudama struggling alone, Srila Prabhupada sent Bhurijana, Amogha, Satyavrata and Chintamani to assist him, and even visited himself on the occasion of Janmastami in 1970 to inspire the devotees and to finalize the printing of his books with the Dai Nippon printing company.
|Japan GBC Bhanu Swami uncovers the Deities' eyes in the Netra Unmilanam ceremony|