Just My Travel Notes: Things to see in Tokyo: Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine)

I was trying to think of the easiest way to recap our trip to Japan. Rather than present you with a day-by-day blog account of what we did I thought I would just do a few individual posts of the key things that we did (and the things I remember since I was really slack and didn’t keep my thorough notes of the trip!).

Meiji Jingu Shrine

The Meiji Jingu is a Shinto Shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The shrine was established in 1920 and covers an area of around 240 acres.

The Grand Shrine-Gate – The biggest Torii of this style in Japan. Over 12 meters high and the pillars are 1.2m in diameter. Stands as an imposing welcome to the Meiji Jingu

It is located just a few steps outside of the Harajuku Station (more on Harajuku at a later post). The area of Harajuku is a crazy loud eclectic place there are so many people around. Yet you head towards the shrine and the rest of the world seems to disappear – the noise of the traffic and people seems to fade into the distance and you are left in a stunning forest garden that leads you up to the Meiji Shrine.

There are acres of gardens and walkways within the complex, on a wet foggy morning the light coming through the trees really lends an ethereal feeling to the day. So peaceful.

There are over 100,000 trees within the Forest which were planted during the construction as well as being donated to the forest from areas all across Japan.

The colourful barrels of Sake at the temple. They are offered as blessings and to show respect to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

The main complex of the Shrine is around a 10 minute walk from the entrance. By the time you reach the main buildings you can really be mistaken for forgetting you are in the middle of the metropolis of Tokyo.

Before entering the main buildings it is customary that you participate in the “Temizuya” ritual of cleansing you hands and mouth. You lift the wooden ‘dipper’ and first wash your left hand, then right hand, following you pour water into your left palm and rinse your mouth. At the end you then hold the dipper upright in both hands and let the water rinse the handle.

The main buildings are really quite impressive. You can take the opportunity to say a prayer or to make an offering. Even just walking around admiring the construction is really enjoyable.

I was really taken away by the amazing woodwork and detail throughout the complex. Such amazing workmanship throughout.
The “Ema” Votive Tablets. These are special personal prayers and gratitude the deities enshrined at Meiji Jingu Shrine. Visitors can purchase a tablet for Y500 and write a message on the reverse side.
Each morning they are offered at Mikesai, the morning ceremony, and your message is conveyed by the priests.
The trees throughout the Meiji Forest are really spectacular. Don’t walk to fast through here, take time to notice the small details even the various moss growing on the trunks. Gorgeous.
The main shrine was quite busy but yet we still managed to find areas without too many people. The grounds are so relaxing to wander through

Once you have seen the main temple buildings don’t feel in a hurry to get back to the noise and crazy of Harajuku. The gardens are really well worth a look.

The Kakuun-Tei (Tea House) was built by order of the Emperor for the Empress. The original building was burnt down during the war so this building was reconstructed in 1958.
The Kiyomasa-Ido (Well) first belonged to Lord Kiyomasa Kato during the Edo Period. The pure water gushes out year round and flows into the Nan-Chi Pond a little further down the path. Importantly – NO DRINKING (Even though the water is apparently of superior quality.

The Meiji Jingu is certainly well worth some time when you are in Tokyo. Plan on spending at least a few hours exploring all the gardens and areas. It is open year round and there are no admission fees.

How to get there:

The main entrance to the gardens are only a few steps outside of the Harajuku Station. Harajuku Station is located on the JR Yamanote Line (free if you have a Japan Rail Pass) it is also near the Meiji-Jingu-Mae Station on the subway lines. For a map and more information on the Meiji Jingu check out Japan-Guide.

Thanks for following along my blog. I hope that you have enjoyed my post today, please feel free to leave a comment I would love to hear from you. Have you been to the Meiji Shrine?