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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  1. Hi KathyG, thanks for visiting my blog.

  2. I really like Japan. It's a beautiful country with a lot of culture and so many good things to see!

    1. Hi Marcia, thanks for your visit. Japan is a place many will not forget after visiting it!

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Muza-chan, thanks for your visit and great compliment!

  4. Nice shots! I'm not a temple/shrine person, but being able to witness such a joyful event is another story 😜