Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine in Tokyo honouring the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken. Their tombs are not here in Tokyo however this shrine was built in 1920 to honour their legacy, and 100,000 trees were planted around the shrine in their memory. Meiji Jingu is a stunning shrine to visit and is a green oasis in the heart of Tokyo.
Emperor Meiji left a lasting legacy in Japan, he supported the country following the end of isolation and the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Emperor Meiji is said to have laid the foundations of modern Japan through the friendship with other nations and the integration of Western ideas whilst still preserving Japanese culture- this era was often known as the Meiji Restoration. His consort Empress Shoken was also memorable, she campaigned for women’s rights and donated to the Red Cross for international welfare.
To visit Meiji Jingu take the Yamanote Line to Harajuku station, turn right at the exit and follow the path to the right and you will see the shrine gate, a huge torii gate which is stunning to behold.
Meiji Jingu is a large shrine complex, especially so in comparison to other shrines in the Tokyo area, giving credence again to the importance of Emperor Meiji. At the entrance to the right of the torii you will also find a small cafe and some parking if you have come by car. There are several ways to meander through the 100,000 trees planted in this shrine but the main route takes you through another large torii gate towards the Meiji Jingu gardens. These gardens are in honour of the Empress and are quite stunning, with a large lake and an iris garden.
On your walk up to the main shrine, you may notice hundreds of sake barrels lining the path. These are donated to the shrine as offerings from different businesses or individuals during the year for luck and prosperity.
If you continue walking past the shrine gardens you will walk beneath another torii gate and enter the main area of the shrine. Here you can see the size of this shrine and three beautiful trees.
Under the tree on the right-hand side you will notice a collection of small wooden boards, these are called ema and are used to write your wish on. You can buy these at the shrine and hang them beneath the tree so that your wishes may come true.
Also in the shrine complex is the Meiji Jingu treasure house. Here you can see many items and personal belongings or the Emperor and Empress. Meiji Jingu itself is free to enter, but there is a small charge for entering the gardens. Meiji Jingu is a popular shrine to visit when in Tokyo, no more so than at new years when over 3,000,000 people visit for the year’s first prayers.
If you are lucky you might even see a traditional Shinto wedding while you are there. Some days it seems like an endless procession so have your camera ready to see a truly beautiful bride.
Please remember that as this is a sacred area observe customs by not smoking or eating or drinking except in designated areas. You will be surprised at the tranquil atmosphere you find in this oasis of calm in bustling Tokyo.