Meiji Shrine: A Sanctuary in the City

9:10 PM

There are a lot of reasons why Meiji Shrine is the most popular Shinto Shrine in Tokyo. For one, it is the most common venue for ceremonies and festivals such as traditional Japanese weddings and  the Seijin-no-hi (or Adults’ Day), in which people in their 20s dress up in traditional Japanese garments and gather at the shrine. Meiji Shrine is also the home of one of the biggest festivals in Tokyo, the Hatsu-mode, where the shrine is packed with millions of people on the 1st day of the year.

Secondly, the shrine is adjacent to other tourist locations such as Yoyogi Park and Takeshita Shopping Street. It is one station away from Shibuya (via Yamanote Line) and one station away from Shinjuku (via Fukuyoshin Line) - very convenient for tourists who want to maximize the day. 

And third, it is one of the several places in Tokyo where you can stroll around in a Japanese Kimono. There are still more reasons why tourists and locals often visit Meiji Shrine. But for me, my main reason is that I want to totally immerse myself into traditional Japanese culture by visiting a Shinto Shrine in a Japanese Kimono. It was the perfect Japanese experience!

BACK TO THE BEGINNING

Meiji Shrine (or Meiji Jingu for some) was constructed on November 1, 1920. This Shinto Shrine was built to honor the souls of the first emperor of modern Japan, Emperor Meiji, and his wife, Empress Shoken. The shrine covers 700,000 square meters, where the shrine buildings are deep within the forest. According to stories, the forest is believed to be an eternal forest that continues to recreate itself; that the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken inhabit the forest.

After World War II, the original construction of Meiji Shrine was completely destroyed. It was reconstructed again, shortly after. Nowadays, Meiji Shrine is a popular tourist destination for its peaceful surroundings. 


AN OASIS AMIDST THE CITY

Upon entering the giant wooden Torii gate, I can already feel the serenity of this place. Unlike other tourist attractions in Tokyo wherein the places are always crowded with people, this one feels different. The place feels quiet and calm. I can see the people visit the shrine quietly to respect this sacred place. It is a tranquil oasis amidst the concrete city of Tokyo.
Torii gates are usually located at the entrance of a Shinto Shrine. This particular Torii gate is made of Cypress wood, while the usual ones are made of copper or steel.

Strolling around the forest of Meiji Jingu in a traditional Japanese Kimono – the perfect experience in Japan.

Kaziridaru or collection of Sake barrels are displayed along the pathway going to central sanctuary. 

The barrels of wine in Meiji Jingu were gifts to Emperor Meiji from French wineries. As the first emperor of modern Japan, Emperor Meiji truly embraced and welcomed the Western culture in Japan.

Before entering the shrine’s innermost grounds, visitor’s often go to the Temizuya or water pavilion to cleanse their hands and mouth in flowing cold water. Body purification is a practice in all Shinto Shrines in Japan, before entering the main shrine. It is a ritual in Japan made to purify the body and mind before entering main grounds.



Meiji Shrine is definitely one of my top tourist destinations in Tokyo. After we went to Shinjuku Gyoen Park, we went straight to Meiji Shrine, then to Shibuya to end the night there. The calmness of this place is the complete opposite of Shibuya’s fast moving phase.  The long walk towards the main grounds will give you time to reflect or just admire the beauty of the forest. It is indeed a sanctuary in the bright city of Tokyo.

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