Friday, January 13, 2017

Syonan Jinja (Shinto Shrine at MacRitchie Reservoir)

If you happen to take multiple wrong turnings while exploring MacRitchie Reservoir, you might see a stone structure and other structures such as the ones below in the beautiful forest of MacRitchie. This are remains of a shrine built by the Japanese during its occupation of Singapore and the carved stone you see with water on top was part of a "temizuya" water pavilion or water-fill basins used by worshippers for washing before approaching the Shinto Shrine.

Shinto Shrine at MacRitchie Reservoir
Shinto Shrine at MacRitchie Reservoir

Temizuya" water pavilion

Granite wall 

Granite steps leading to the shrine 
The jungle has reclaimed this shrine and what remains are memories of a place that once was a symbol of occupation. Researching, i found some photos of this place at its construction phase and later in its full glory.

source: Syonan Shimbun



Remains of the bridge 

Close up of the wooden pillars of the remains of the bridge





The bridge 

Construction of the Syonan Jinja 

Construction for the shrine was announced on April /May 1942. The Shrine was known as "Syonan Jinja" and was to be built in the MacRitchie Reservoir area while a Pagoda, known as "Syonan Tyureito" or "Syonan Chureito" was erected at Bukit Batok Hill. The person put in charge to oversee this was Captain Yokoyama, with the help of 10,000 prisoners of war (POW) made up of British and Australian POW's.

On 7 May 1942, the foundation stone of the shrine was laid by Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese forces in Malaya. The enshrinement ceremony was held on February 15, 1943 in conjunction with the birth of Syonan or the fall of Singapore.

POW working on the Shrine (source: Himoji)



Enshrinement ceremony



POW painting the bridge (source: Himoji.jp)

Destruction of the Syonan Jinja

Just before the surrender of Japanese occupied Singapore, the Japanese Military Authorities set fire to the shrine to prevent its desecration. What remains is preserved as it is in the jungles of MacRitchie Reservoir as a stark reminder of what happened over 70 years ago.

What is the future of this place? Currently, there are no plans by National Parks / National Heritage Board to make this place accessible.


References
Shrine & Pagoda For Syonan. (1942, May 8). Syonan Times
Syonan Jinja Enshrinement. (1943, February12). Syonan Shimbun, page 1
Homage To Syonan Jinja. (1943,February 17). Syonan Shimbun, page 1
Scene at Synonan Jinja, Bukit Timah. (1944, April 26). Syonan Times
http://www.himoji.jp/database/db04/permalink.php?id=205
http://www.himoji.jp/database/db04/permalink.php?id=206
http://www.himoji.jp/himoji/database/db04/permalink.php?id=2190

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