Meiji-Jingu Shrine

Our first stop when we visited Tokyo was the Meiji-Jingu Shrine in Shibuya. It’s just around the corner from the JR Yamanote line as it only takes five minutes to walk from the station.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a massive Torii. The torii is a symbolic gateway to a Shintō shrine and has many variations. This one seemed to be representative of the path we took to the shrine, as it was made of solid wood and as tall as some of the trees along the path. Plenty of tourists (including ourselves) were gathered beneath the threshold taking selfies and photos.

Toyko, Japan

The pathway that leads to the shrine is sheltered by 100,000 trees. They stood tall and provided us with welcome shade throughout the length of the passage. The evergreen forest where the shrine is located has 365 different species of trees, which were donated by Japanese people throughout the country when the shrine was built.

120,000 Trees

Just before you reach the shrine there is a wall lined with Sake, which was donated to the Meiji Shrine. Sake is rice wine, made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. The process of making sake is similar to beer, as there is a brewing process where starch is converted into the sugars that ferment into alcohol.

The barrel offerings were all brightly colored and wrapped in bamboo in a shelf that stood tall, maybe 15 feet high. There were over 100 barrels of sake at Meiji-Jingu.

Sake Wall
Wall of Aged Sake

The Shrine is actually separated into two sections: the Naien and the Gaien. The Naien is the inner precinct. The inner area is centered on the shrine buildings and has a museum with articles of the Emporer and Empress of which the shrine is dedicated to. During our visit, however, the shrine was under construction for restoration so it was covered with a tarp. Nonetheless, we were still able to see the central sanctuary.

The Naien is the inner precinct. The inner area is centered on the shrine buildings and has a museum with articles of the Emporer and Empress of which the shrine is dedicated to. During our visit, however, the shrine was under construction for restoration so it was covered with a tarp. Nonetheless, we were still able to see the central sanctuary.

Nonetheless, we were still able to see the central sanctuary. There, I saw plenty of Japanese folks lined up to pray and to toss some Yen into a box. There was a musicality to the sound of the hands clapping together and then the coins rattling along the metal slots of the wooden boxes.

Entrance to the inner shrine

The Gaien is the outer area where there are 80 murals dedicated to the lives of the Emporer and his consort. There are also a bunch of sports facilities like the National Stadium and the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, and the Meiji Memorial Hall. Today the area is used for Shintō weddings and meeting rooms.

 

A Shinto Wedding
A bride, her husband, and their family get their picture taken at Meiji-Jingu Shrine.

 

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