Meiji Shrine, or “Meiji Jingu” in Japanese, is one of the most well known shrines in Japan for both Japanese and foreign people. It is located right next to Harajuku station, which is one of the busiest train stations in Tokyo, thus Japan. In spite of its location, once you step into Meiji Shrine, you almost feel like you are in a deep forest. This is where you can experience Japanese traditions, history, and religious culture in the most sacred place you can imagine.
Greeted by the huge wooden gate, Torii
The first thing you see upon entering Meiji Shrine is the magnificent large wooden gate, called “torii” in Japanese. Torri is not just a gate, it represents the frontier between the mortal world and the world after death. It is the entrance to the Meiji Shrine and is the largest torii of its kind in Japan: 12 meter high and 17.1 meter wide. Something you should keep in mind is that when you pass through the torii, you should walk on either right of left side and avoid the middle: the middle is where the gods and goddesses pass, not us humans. It is just a small thing, but if you are interested in embracing Japanese culture, knowing small things like this would be appreciated by Japanese since there are a few etiquettes for visiting a shrine.
Find peace in the deep wood of Meiji Shrine
On top of the magnificent torii of Meiji Shrine, a lot of people who visit Meiji Shrine for the first time are surprised to find how much nature there is. It is located in the middle of one of the busiest parts of Tokyo, but once you step into Meiji Shrine, you barely hear the busy city noise. You almost forget that you are in Tokyo. It is because Japanese temples and shrines are designed so that they purposely include ample nature in the land. It is especially true for Meiji Shrine, with its beautiful and sacred land protected by impressive and rich trees..
The art of Japanese architecture at Meiji Shrine
Like the impressive wooden gate, the architecture of Meiji Shrine is simply breathtaking. All the visitors appreciate how the shrine is beautifully put together, with its small details and precise designs. Each building and each gate has its own beauty and uniqueness, so it is hard to keep your camera off your hands. Despite its popularity, the shrine is large enough for you to find a moment to fully embrace this location, appreciating what the Japanese people have built over centuries.
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A Japanese style wedding at Meiji Shrine
One afternoon when I visited Meiji Shrine with a friend, I was fortunate enough to witness a wedding at Meiji Shrine. Yes, it is indeed an extremely popular place to have a Japanese traditional wedding. In traditional weddings, the ceremony is held at a shrine, and the bride wears a special white kimono called “shiromuku”. In the picture above, you can see two “miko”, priestesses, leading a bride and a groom followed by their families. A few options exist for those who would like to have a wedding ceremony at Meiji Shrine, but just to give you an idea, it costs 1,000,000 JPY (8000 USD) for a 20-people ceremony, without the cost of the wedding kimono. How about getting married at one of the most prestigious shrines in Japan.
Have fun in the neighborhood!
An interesting aspect of visiting Meiji Shrine is definitely the location. After experiencing the historical, spiritual, and traditional Japan, you can step out of this sacred place and get lost in the high-paced modern Japan in Harajuku. Harajuku is a place with a boiling underground culture, and is constantly in movement. You can go to Takeshita Street, just a few minutes from Meiji Shrine to witness Japanese “kawaii” street fashion, or you can just take a break at Yoyogi Park to be entertained by the famous Elvis impersonators who are always dancing at the gate of Yoyogi Park. Harajuku is also the place that famous cafes and restaurants choose to open their first stores, so you can pretty much find any type of food there.
Get spiritual energy at the city oasis Meiji Shrine
If you are not sure where to begin your journey in Tokyo, Meiji Shrine could be a great way to get started. If you go alone or in a group, there are many different elements that you can appreciate. Furthermore, because of its excellent location, you can always enjoy the shrine’s surrounding areas before or after the visit, and can get a full day of fun in this area. Meiji Shrine is also considered as one of the most popular and powerful spiritual spots in Japan, so this could be a great place to wish for a safe and exciting journey in Japan.
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