Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
3 reviews from the community
Review of "Meiji Shrine, Tokyo"
A nerdy type from Wolverhampton, now working full-time in Birmingham. Back after about two years. Trying to play catchup with ratings before I write more reviews...
Even though Tokyo is cosmopolitan central, there are still plenty of temples and shrines around the capital to balance the time spent shopping and visiting museums. One of the biggest and most famous Shinto Shrines in Tokyo is Meiji Jingu. As such it seemed we had to visit this place while we were in Tokyo, even if my cousin and I weren’t that interested in seeing every temple and shrine.
Despite its location next to the Harajuku district- a completely modern, trendy area associated with fashion and expensive tastes- the shrine itself is a beautiful place that makes you feel as if you’ve been transported out of present-day Tokyo and taken back in time…except that there’s several non-Japanese people experiencing the same thing!
As popular as it is, the Meiji Jingu Shrine is a relatively “new” attraction, compared to the older shrines and temples we came across throughout Tokyo and Kyoto. It was built in 1920 in honour of the Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken. Under his rule, Japan underwent mass modernization from a feudal nation to a power which could rival Western countries, so it is rather understandable why the country would dedicate a whole shrine to him which would become one of the most popular in the country.
The Meiji Jingu Shrine grounds are accessible via two entrances. The north entrance is near Yoyogi Park and right next to Yoyogi Train Station. The south entrance, which is the one we used, is next to Harajuku Station. Both stations are reachable on the Japan Rail Yamamote Loop Line which goes around the city so getting to either is easy enough (I’d imagine Yoyogi is slightly less busier since Harajuku is a better known tourist area). The entrances are easily recognizable by the massive wooden Torii gates.
---The Path to the Shrine---
The shrine is essentially surrounded by a forest. You can imagine, therefore, how amazed we were to going from the hustle and bustle of Harajuku to the quiet and serene atmosphere of the shrine grounds. Whilst it was summer (although on this day it was about to rain) and there were still plenty of tourists walking the same path, it was still a refreshing change from walking through throngs of people to just take the time and stroll down the main path without fear of accidentally blocking someone’s way. The vast amount of trees bordering the path is amazing. Apparently there are about 100,000 trees in the forest, which were especially planted during the construction of the shrine about 80 years ago. To think I was just grateful that they blocked out the sun that day!
---The Shrine Gardens---
As well as the inner shrine itself, there are other small buildings that cover aspects of traditional Shinto worship. For example, there is a small area, similar to a well or font, for purifying your hands. This is done by pouring ladles of water over each hand in turn, then pouring the water so it travels down the handle and cleans the ladle. It sounds rather easy, but I was bad at doing the last part because of how long the ladles are (about 60-70cm) and I couldn’t get the water to travel down right to the end of the handle. (Sorry, future users of that ladle…)
After a ten minute walk or so, we eventually arrived at the shrine’s main buildings. To enter Meiji Jingu proper you have to pay ¥500 (about £3.25 by the current exchange rate) which is an excellent price (although expensive in comparison to the other temples and shrines we visited). We passed through another wooden entrance to the main courtyard. Opening times vary depending on the month, but for August (when we went) it is 5am-6pm.
You can also browse the rows of votive tablets (‘ema’ in Japanese) which are hung up near the inner shrine. On these wooden tablets people write out wishes for future success, good luck and well-wishes for friends and family members. As a testament to how popular this place is for Japanese tourists, we noticed that several tablets were written in other languages- English, French, Spanish, and Korean- which goes to show how many people love and respect the reverence of the shrine. You can write your own tablet for, I believe, about ¥500, but as much I would have liked to I figured I would do it at another shrine (which I didn’t in the end).I went up to the inner shrine, which is like a standard Shinto shrine where you drop money, clap your hands and make a wish. Here you are not allowed to take pictures or record video, which is fair enough seeing as how many people were paying their personal respect at the shrine (it was a common rule at other temples and shrines I visited as well).
---Other Places of Interest---
During our time at the shrine it began to rain, so unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to see all the buildings, such as the Meiji Jingu Treasure House. I did, however, pop into the souvenir shop. There are plenty of gifts on offer, from food to candles, umbrellas to t-shirts. I wouldn’t say that everything here is cheap or better than value than at other shrine/temple tourist shops, but it didn’t stop me from buying a few things that caught my eye. My sister even bought green tea from here!
Next to the souvenir shop is a restaurant/café as well as toilet facilities. I didn’t get to visit the toilets during our time here (although it’s worth noting that most Japanese public toilets are ceramic holes in the ground. There are a couple Western-style toilets in most restrooms, but for outdoor attractions there weren’t, so brace yourself!)
The Meiji Jingu Shrine was absolutely fantastic and I definitely recommend anyone coming to Japan to visit there. Even if you aren’t keen on Japanese temples and shrines, just walking through the huge, quiet forest is wonderful in itself and provides an excellent opportunity to avoid Tokyo’s crowds for a couple of hours.
Product Information : Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
Manufacturer's product descriptionAttraction
Listed on Ciao since: 20/08/2005