On the day of our visit, Meiji-Jingu was bustling with numerous weddings (one at the processional stage, others posing for photographs). Mishu told me that the obviously heavy wedding headdresses worn by the brides were designed to hide their horns; apparently the belief is that all women have fox spirits, and during the wedding ceremony could reveal this side of their nature unless it were suppressed by the heavy headgear. We had encountered many people on the walk up to the shrine who were clearly heading for weddings, to judge from their dress and demeanor; the men all wear white ties, and the women's hairstyles and footwear indicated that they were preparing for nuptials. We also noticed the "shrine maidens" who have much in common with vestal virgins; they are young girls in service to the shrine. Some of them, who couldn't have been much older than twelve, were accompanying the bridal processions, wearing bright orange hakama (the wide-legged trousers typically worn by tradesmen).
There were also parents preparing to dedicate their infants. The mothers wear traditional kimono and tabe and the babies are also dressed formally, but the fathers we saw were in business suits.
The Shinto shrine Meiji Jingu is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. It was originally built between 1915 and 1921 but was destroyed in the Tokyo air raids of World War Two, so what we see today is the 1950s reconstruction.
Emperor Meiji was born in 1852 and ascended to the throne in 1867 as the first emperor of modern Japan. His accession brought an end to the feudal shogun era and ushered in a period known as the Meiji Restoration, during which Japan modernised and westernised herself to join the world's major powers. This shrine celebrates that achievement so is a significant place in the country’s history and sense of itself.
The shrine is located in Yoyogi Park and is surrounded by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, by people from all over the country. We strolled through these trees along wide paths, following the crowds of both Japanese visitors and tourists. The first thing we saw was a large number of sake barrels displayed by the side of the path. These are offered every year by sake brewers from around the country to show their respect for the souls of the Emperor and Empress in recognition of the encouragement given to the growth of this and other industries under the Meiji Restoration.
Near here is the first of several torii or shrine gates. This one is the biggest of its style (known as Myojin) in the country – 12 metres high with a 17 metre cross piece spanning its 1.2 metre wide pillars. It was made from 1,500 year old Japanese cypress or hinoki in 1970 and is an exact replica of the 1920 original.
Passing beneath this the path continues to the main shrine which you enter beneath another torii. Just before this on the left is the temizuya or font where the faithful purify themselves before entering the shrine. Once inside you find yourself in a large courtyard surrounded by several buildings and with the shrine itself in front of you. People mill about, and as always at a Shinto shrine you will see a lot of amulets for sale and prayer plaques, known as ema, on which people write prayers and wishes before leaving them hanging for the spirits to read. Around two sides of this courtyard we saw hundreds of dolls and soft toys lined up in rows, with more being added even as we looked. I wasn’t sure whether these are given in gratitude for prayers answered or as offerings to ensure a positive response to entreaties.
Perhaps because it was a Sunday, we were lucky enough to see several weddings in progress while we were here, and no one seemed to mind us watching and taking photos. The bride in the photo I have included here (photo five) had an especially beautifully embroidered white kimono and a striking headdress, but all were lovely.
After some time wandering around and taking in the sights (and taking lots of photos, although this is naturally forbidden in the inner sanctuary of the shrine) I was weary and wanted to rest. We sat on the steps near the entrance but were asked to get up – this is sacred ground and it seems sitting on it is not allowed. So we headed back to the visitor centre area beyond the outer torii. Here there is a self service cafe selling light meals and drinks, a restaurant, shop and also a treasure house where you can see personal belongings of the Emperor and Empress, including the carriage which the emperor rode to the formal declaration of the Meiji Constitution in 1889.
The shrine is open all day every day and is free to visit. The treasure house exhibition costs 500¥ and is open 9.00-16.30, but we didn’t go in here as time was getting on. So after a cold drink we decided to head back to our hotel to rest up for a while before having dinner.
At Meiji Jingu Shrine you can purchase the wooden votive plaque call Ema and write wishes and prayers. The written plaques hung on rack wooden board under the wishing tree. The wishes and prayers are written in many languages and you can actually read some of the wishes people written.
I am not sure the exact cost, I think it cost around 500 yen for adult and 200 yen for children. I didn’t get to make a wish.
Meiji Shrine was built dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken for the Japanese people to pay respects and to enshrine their soul. He was the first emperor of modern Japan. He transformed feudal Japan to modern state and joined the world powers. Meiji Shrine was destroyed during Second World War and rebuilt in 1958.
Meiji Shrine was our first introduction to Tokyo. It is a popular tourist destination and visited by many as spiritual, recreation and relaxation. The area is large (175 acres) and it can take few hours to observe the shrine. They are many aspects to see and to understand.
Meiji Shrine is surrounded by forest with many different varieties of trees (365 different species). The trees were donated by people from all over Japan.
The Torii (gates) are usually made from wood. The large Torii gate at Meiji Shrine are built from 1,700 year-old cypress trees and imported from Taiwan.
The Torii gates are very important to Japanese people who are practising Shinto’s. The significant of the Torii gates to the Shinto’s followers is that they must pass under the torii gate. Passing under the gate is to purify the worshippers' hearts and minds before praying to the Kami (Shinto’s gods or spirits). Shinto’s are Japan's major religion alongside Buddhism. The meaning of Shinto is the way of the gods. The Torii gate at Meji Jingu Shrine is decorated with plaque and belongs to Ryobu Shinto which has Buddhism influenced. As for pure Shinto the Torii gates are plain.
Shrine that dedicated to the deity of Emperor Meiji. Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan. The Meiji Shrine was completed in 1920, and rebuilt after being destroyed in World War Two. It is located in a wooded park area next to Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. Various events and festivals are celebrated at the shrine throughout the year.
At Japanese shrines you will constantly find walls full of little wooden plates and strings full of paper loops. They are called ema and omikuji respectively.
Ema can be purchased mostly in front of these walls. If you have a wish you write it on the back of it in whatever language and than attach it to the wall.
The little papers called omikuji are a kind of oracle you make a donation and then draw a paper. Sometimes you have to use a box with sticks in it with a hole on the bottom and the stick that comes out, tells you a number und you have to get a paper from the according draw. These papers tell you whether you have bad, normal, good or excellent luck. In order to strengthen the positive prediciton or for the bad prediction to not come true it is looped around the strings.
Provenance of the Bourgogne Wine for Consecration at Meiji Jingu
"By gaining the good and rejecting what is wrong, it is our desire that we'll compare favourable with other lands abroad"... poem by Emperor Meiji
The Meiji period was an enlightened period during which a policy of "Japanese Spirit and Western Knowledge" was adopted, to learn from the best of Western culture and civilization while keeping Japan's age-old spirit and revered traditions. Emperor Meiji led the way in promoting modernization by embracing many features of western culture in his personal life, such as shearing his topknot and donning western attire, and in many other aspects of daily living. Among these departures, His Majesty set an example by taking western food and in particular by enjoying wine with it.
The barrels of wine to be consecrated at Meji Jingu have been offered by the celebrated wineries of Bourgogne in France on the initiative of Mr. Yasuhiko Sata, Representative, Hourse of Burgundy in Tokyo, Honorary Citizen of Bourgogne and owner of the Chateau de Chailly Hotel-Golf. Profound gratitude is due to the winemakers who have so generously contributed to this precious gift to be consecrated here to the spirit of world peave and amity, with the earnest prayer that France and Japan will enjoy many more fruitful years and friendship.
This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love the Meiji Shrine. From the impressive wooden arch at the entrance to the peacefulness of the shrine itself, this is the place to go to really experience Japan at its best and most traditional.
From the moment you get there it is a lesson in Japan. The trees that line the area (which were donated by Japanese citizens and others from all over the world) to the wooden bridge and the rituals of purifying yourself before entering the temple, it is something that must be experienced.
You could easily spend a day here going through the shrine, the gardens and the museum. If you are lucky you will get to see a martial arts demonstration at Shiseikan, the traditional home for Japanese Martial Arts, or see a Shinto Monk romaing the grounds.
After you've made your way up the long winding path, eventually you arrive (after another immense torii) at the ranks of Burgundy wine and sake which are dedicated to use at the shrine. The Meiji emperor was apparently the first to introduce red wine drinking in Japan, and many of the vineyards in Bourgogne continue to send tributes.
It was originary compound of the Meiji Shrine. June is the best season to view the flower garden. There are lot more building structure around this area include Meiji Memorial Gallery, Baseball stadium, National Stadium(Olympic stadium).
On the way to the main gate of the shrine, you are actually takes about 5 minutes walk. My advice is to bring some water along as you may need it specially on summer.
Meiji-jingu Shrine is a relatively new shrine in the middle of Yoyogi Kôen Park and one of the most important attractions in Tokyo. It was after the death of Tenno Meiji who was responsible for the modernisation in Japan and therefore one of the most important emperors in Japanese history. The shrine is dedicated to him and his wife and thousands of people go there on New Year's Eve to wish for a prosperous and successful new year. The Ni-No-Torii gate that marks the entrance to the shrine is the largest gate in Japan. Also worth visiting is the Treasure-House close-by which has got goods that belonged to Emperor Meiji and are from the times after the opening of Japan.
The Shrine is open from 5 am until 6.40 pm during summer and from 6.40 am until 4 pm during winter. Entry is free of charge.