Day 3 – Meiji Jingū

The Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingū 明治神宮) is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deification of the Meiji Emperor. In 1868, Emperor Meiji led Japan out of a long period of isolation (although the American gunboat policy also forced this). In the following years, Japan went from a feudal state to one of the most powerful industrial nations. This is one of the foremost reasons why Emperor Meiji is one of the most revered people in recent Japanese history.

The shrine was built in 1920 (8 years after the death of the emperor). It was destroyed in the Second World War but immediately rebuilt. It is therefore a modern facility, and modern materials such as concrete were used in its construction. Despite this, the entire complex still looks very traditional, which is certainly due to its location in the middle of a huge park in Shibuya. Much like Shinjuku Gyoen, it is an oasis in the middle of one of the busiest areas in the greater Tokyo area.

Getting there

Waffle with Matcha Creme
Waffle with Matcha Creme

Since I was coming from Shinjuku, it was easiest to get off at Sendagaya. From there, it was only a few minutes, which took me past some high-rise buildings, a small pony farm, and a few snack and ice cream carts to the park entrance. At one of these booths, I bought a waffle with a kind of matcha cream – very tasty, very sweet, and just the right thing to fill my sugar cravings again. I watched the children riding ponies while I munched on the waffle. It was getting really warm now, and I was annoyed that I hadn’t brought any change to the drinks machine. I somehow didn’t think of using my Suica. But you learn as you go…

A short walk in the Meiji Jingū Park

I then entered the grounds through the Kitasano Torii. In beautiful sunshine, I strolled along the forest paths, past the old guardhouse. Since I had already had my daily dose of “park” in Shinjuku, I headed purposefully towards the main building. It’s not really possible to lose your bearings. But I still took my time.

After a few hundred meters I reached the actual shrine. It was lunchtime now and people were all over the place. I looked around a bit. There were of course many places to pray here too. I joined the line and did what everyone else did: make a wish, bow, clap my hands twice (or something similar). It wouldn’t do any harm, even though I don’t believe in such things.

I took a few pictures. I particularly liked the roof structure with the beautiful lanterns. The Meiji Jingu Museum looked interesting as well, but it was closed that day. As I turned to leave, I noticed a wedding procession coming in through the south gate. I had seen something like that on TV a few times before. But it was a different story live.

Then I went to the other exit, this time towards Harajuku, to get the subway to Shibuya Center. Along the way, there are two large storage racks:

  • once for French wine (from Burgundy), which was somehow supposed to serve as a symbol of friendship between Japan and France (?)
  • once for sake from all over the country, which is donated as an offering. I have no idea whether it is actually drunk, it would be a waste if not…

I then quickly reached the station and took the train to Shibuya, into the biggest hustle and bustle possible!

Pictures – click on the photo for more information:

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