Meiji Jingu in Shibuya
My favorite feature of touring Asia is seeing the temples and shrines. In Taiwan, one of my favorite experiences was going to Longshan Temple. I find it to be such a beautiful experience. Although it is comparing apples to oranges, going to a temple can often be a full sensory experience as opposed to going to a church, there is often chanting, incense burning, and Buddhist temples are often very bright and colorful. I love visiting temples around the world!
When planning my trip to Tokyo, I noticed that there aren’t a great deal of typical “must see” tourists sights. By that I mean, you go to Rome to see the Colloseum, you go to Paris to see the Lourve and the Eiffel Tower, and you go to Tokyo to see…..? The cherry blossoms? Which unfortunately I was not going to make it for ( I was only a few weeks shy!) but other than that, I guess you just go to experience the city! There were a few spots to hit, but not many. One of them was Meji Jingu in Shibuya!
Meiji Jingu (Jingu meaning Shrine) is a shrine dedicated to the diefied Emperor Meiji and his wife. The shrine is right outside Harajuku station, and almost across the street from the famous Takeshita street. The shrine has been there since 1926, and the ground are very large. As a shrine, it’s not as colorful as a Buddhist temple, but it’s still very beautiful!
When you first enter the shrine you have to walk through these huge Torii, giant Japanese gates. These gates are the largest in Japan, and it leads the way to a giant walkway with a big beautiful path through the forest to the shrine. It is a few minutes walk to get to the Shrine, and definitely scenic!
On the way to the shrine there is a huge wall of barrels of wine that are offerings from France, and barrels of sake. The sake was donated to the shrine, and the barrels are very large, and covered in beautiful Japanese art.
Before you get to the shrine, there is a spiritual cleansing process, similar to using Holy water at a Catholic church. At this water station, you take the wooden spoon and pour water into both of your hands, to cleanse them. After your hands are clean, you pour more water in your hands again and drink the water, then spit it out into the bottom of the fountain.
Once we were cleansed, we checked out the shrine, and it was lovely. At the shrine you can purchase prayers to take with you, or wooden blocks to write your prayers on and hang at the shrine. We purchased one for 500 yen, a little over $5.00, and hung ours up with the rest!!
The grounds are gigantic, and inside the shrine, but separate from it, is an inner garden. In June when the irises bloom the garden is a must see, the Iris garden take up a large part of the grounds. There is also a lotus garden that is only in bloom during the summer. During the winter-spring transition that we were there, the grounds didn’t offer much to see, but it was still a nice walk! The Japanese do amazing things with bamboo!
The emperor used to walk around the garden quite a bit. At the rear of the grounds is a well called Kiyomasa’s well, that has become a spiritual power spot. The well springs up into a little pond, and is a natural wonder because of the purity of the water. When you look at the well, it’s always running, but the surface appears perfectly still. It’s exceptionally beautiful, and I felt very fortunate to have seen it!
Meiji Jingu is a gem in Tokyo. While most of the city is very new, full of skyscrapers and amazing shopping, the shrine brings a bit of the old world to Tokyo.