I went to Bangkok to attend a business meeting last week. I always visit Ma Zhu Miao Temple in Yokohama Chinatown before I travel in order to pray for a safe trip. I visited the temple to report my safe return and to thank her for her protection after I came back.
Ma Zhu Miao (also known as Masobyo) is a temple where Chinese goddess Ma Zhu is enshrined. Ma Zhu was born to a family in Fujian, China in 960. Legend has it that she began to chant prayers in the mornings and the evenings when she was around ten, was given supernatural powers to cure sickness, defeat evil when she became 16, and climbed to heaven when she turned 28 years old. According to legend, people often witnessed her rescuing fishermen and seamen from disasters after she went to the heaven. Emperors from Chinese dynasties gave her honorary titles such as Holy Mother of the Heaven and princess of the Heaven. Ma Zhu was worshipped as the guardian deity for fishermen and seafarers at first. Later, she began to be worshipped as the guardian deity to protect people from their daily hardships. She is extremely popular among the Taiwanese, the Fujian, the Cantonese, and the Vietnamese. She is worshiped by approximately 200 million people across 26 countries.
You can enter the precinct free of charge. But if you want to enter the temple building and see the statue of Ma Zhu from up close, you need to buy a set of five incense sticks for 500 yen from a ticket vending machine at the entrance. You then go up the stairs to the temple building. Place them in the burner to light the sticks, then bow once or three times at each of the five incense burners. (There is a number on each burner. So you just follow from 1 to 5. )
After you finish with the incense sticks, you can enter the building where the statue of Ma Zhu is placed. She is protected by two demon-turned-guardian generals: Qianli Yan or “Thousand miles eye”, and Shunfeng Er or ”With the wind ear” They were originally demons conquered by Ma Zhu, became her staunch guardians, and have protected her through their unique abilities. “Thousand miles eye”, the green one, is believed to see as far as a thousand miles. “With the wind ear”, the red one, hears low voices, even from a far distance.
Ma Zhu is believed to protect you during your travels. She is also believed to answer your prayers for household safety, success in business, achieving good luck, healthy longevity, safe births, etc.
Ma Zhu Miao Temple is a place where you can feel the Chinese culture and tradition nurtured by this Chinese community. This is a place I highly recommend you visit during your stay in Yokohama.