Monday, 23 June 2014

Tokyo Trip: Meiji Jingu Shrine

Torii Gate
I planned our first destination in Tokyo to Meiji Jingu Shrine. It is situated in Shibuya which is only around 10 mins ride by train from Ikebukero (where we stayed). I done my research which indicated the Shinto shrine is best visited on a Sunday. Many traditional Japanese Shinto weddings would be held there and provided many great photo capturing opportunities.

Sacred Sake Offering

The popular Meiji Jingu Shrine was built and dedicated to the Meiji Emperor and his wife. A route (15 mins walk) leads from the Harajuku Station through a tranquil forest to the Main Shrine. We were greeted by a huge wooden Torii gate at the main entrance. The toriis are commonly found at Shinto shrines and temples and represent a unique icon of Japan. No visit to Japan would be completed without a photo with a Torii.

Family Photo at the Main Shrine's Torii
Purification Fountain
Along the way, we passed by another massive Torii gate which was made from the trees from Ali-shan at Taiwan. But the sight that beheld us was the Sake Offering Hall. Decorated with exaggerated characters and sometimes vivid pictures, the sacred sake (omiki) offerings look like individual piece of master crafts to me.

We soon reached the main shrine. Before entering the shrine to offer your prayers, visitors are expected to cleanse themselves at the Purification Fountain. Do not be worried. There are clear procedures in English at site. You can refer to this site if you are interested in the purification ritual (Shubatsu).

The main building inside the shrine is the Offering Hall. We needed to walk through a large square to offer our prayer. At the right side of the hall, there is a fence around a tree which many "Ema" are hung. An Ema is a wooden plate which you use to write your wishes.

Main Gates into the Square
Main and Offering Hall
Thru the Doorway
It was not long before a traditional wedding procession took place. Many photographers have already secured a strategic spot for their shooting. I was lucky to secure a place myself at the last moment. The star of the wedding was the bride. Dressed in an all white kimono (Shiromuku), she struck a strong contrast with the groom in black formal kimono and the others in coloured outfits. The procession took place across the square and lasted about 15 mins. A few other wedding processions were to take place and I was happily snapping away with my faithful camera. Mission completed :-).

Traditional Japan Shinto Wedding Procession
Japanese Family Photo Shoot
The Groom and Bride
There is an inner garden (500 Yen) which is famous for the Iris flowers. They are supposed in full bloom in June. We went a a tad too early and only a few of them are fully bloomed. The garden is good enough for a stroll but in my opinion can be avoided if you do not have a lot of time. There is also a Homotsuden (Treasure Museum) which we did not explore.

The experience at the Meiji Jingu Shrine is an enjoyable one. Compare with other temples and shrines I have visited, the setup of the shrine may not be very impressive but the atmosphere and culture that bind to the holy ground are invaluable. Seeing many Japanese (young and old) offering their sincere prayers at the shrine, I could see the highly-esteemed place Meiji held inside their hearts. I could finally understand the reason why Japanese couples like to celebrate the wedding at the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Do not miss this place when you have the chance to visit Tokyo.
Family Photo at the Sake Offering Hall
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Related Posts: The Tokyo Trip    


Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Tokyo Trip

Senso-ji Temple at Asakusa

I have planned this since the beginning of this year and was glad that I finally visited Tokyo with my family on June this year. My wife and I have been fascinated by Japan when we visited it a decade ago. We were impressed by the Japaneses' politeness and service level, great food and marvelous shrines and temples. Being on a guided tour, we did not bother to do any homework and follow blindly where the tour bus brought us to. I remembered I was totally awed and confused when the tour guide showed us the complicated train network at a train station. I was silently relieved then that I did not need to navigate the dense transport network. My role then was to enjoy the good food and scenery at the Land of the Rising Sun.

Toriis at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
10 years down the road, the "complicated train network" nightmare came to haunt me when we planned to re-visit Tokyo on a free and easy trip. The same "awed and confused" feeling struck me again when I scanned through train map. Terms like "Yamanote Line, Fukutoshin Line, Saikyo Line Rapid,  Keio Line Express,   Marunouchi Line,  Tobu Tojo Line Semi-Express etc" were like Japan secret codes to me. It was a struggle at first but after deciphering and understanding how the train network operated, it became plain sailing. I am not going too much into this but will be sharing some of my tips at traveling in Tokyo at a later blog.

Full bloom flowers at Hase-dera Temple at Kamakura

My 11 days trip in Tokyo would take us to the following area:

(For a detailed itinerary, please Like our Facebook page and contact me by Email)

Day 1: Arrived at Tokyo
Day 2: Harajuku-Meiji Shrine, Togo Shrine, Takeshita Dori Street
Day 3: Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land)
Day 4: Asakusa-Senso-ji,Temple Nakamise Dori Street, Sumida River,
            Tokyo Skytree
Day 5: Kamakura-Komachi Dori Street ,Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
           Hasedera Temple, Kotokuin Temple(Daibutsu), Inamuragasaki beach
Day 6: Tokyo Disneysea
Day 7: Tsukiji Market, Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple
            Imperial Palace
Day 8: Ikebukero
Day 9: Ueno -Ueno Park and Zoo,Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple, Benten-do, 
            Shinobazu pond, Ameyoko Dori Street        
Day 10: Kawagoe-Kurazukuri zone (Old Storehouse Zone)
Day 11: Back to Singapore 

Family photo with Sumida River, Tokyo Skytree and Asahi Beer Hall

Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo does not changed much since my last visit. But do not get me wrong, it's charm still remains. This trip has helped me uncovered more of Tokyo and to savour authentic Japanese food at will. My family (especially my wife!) enjoyed great shopping experience that we must always resist  the urge to grab everything from the shops' displays and shelves!

Do follow my later blogs as I share my delightful experience at the different parts of Tokyo.

See you soon! 

Related Posts: Meiji Jingu Shrine-Tokyo, Japan;Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land); Asakusa and Senso-ji Temple; The Tokyo Skytree and Sumida River; Day Trip at Kamakura (Part 1)-The Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine; Day Trip at Kamakura (Part 2)- The Hase-dera Temple; Day Trip at Kamakura (Part 3)-The Daibutsu, Great Buddha of Kamakura; Day Trip at Kamakura (Part 4)-The Inamuragasaki Beach

Daibutsu at Kamakura

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