This study examines Hanazono Shrine and its role as a sacred and social space in one of the dense city centers of Tokyo, Japan. I examine Hanazono Shrine as a"third place," a concept coined by Ray Oldenburg to describe informal public gathering places beyond the realms of home and work. By applying and expanding Oldenburg's concept, I show how Hanazono Shrine provides the physical grounds to foster both interactive and ideological community among Tokyo residents. Because of its inclusive and accommodating nature and the physical space it provides for a variety of social exchanges, Hanazono Shrine provides ground for interaction outside of home and work. The shrine grounds not only facilitate interaction from person to person but also interaction between people and the Shinto tradition they come to interact with. In the religious and cultural context of Japan, Tokyo’s urban religious spaces hold spiritual meaning and social function, both of which might contribute to their continued importance in the lives of Tokyo residents.
The growing tourist industry in Japan has brought up people's attention to the country's traditional culture. Kimono, the national costume of Japan, is one of the most attractive cultural symbols. As more foreigners get interested in trying on kimonos, there are questions about cultural appropriation--a term that should be understood within context but not negative stereotypes. In Japan, cultural appropriation of traditional cultures is a way of saving them in the current commercial era.