The origins of this shrine date to a hall, founded in 1632, for the study of the Chinese Confucian classics. Its headmaster was Hayashi Razan, the official Confucian scholar to the Tokugawa government. Moved to its present site in 1691 (and destroyed by fire and rebuilt six times), the hall became an academy for the ruling elite. In a sense, nothing has changed: in 1872 the new Meiji government established the country's first teacher-training institute here, and that, in turn, evolved into Tokyo University—the graduates of which still make up much of the ruling elite. The hall looks like nothing else you're likely to see in Japan: painted black, weathered, and somber, it could almost be in China.