Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

4 Aug

After a busy day exploring in Tokyo we found ourselves at the Meiji shrine in late afternoon.  After exiting the subway station we turned and suddenly found ourselves in a huge park.  The trees towered overhead, shading us from the late afternoon sun and welcomed us into the ground of the shrine.

It was an interesting contrast between the ultra modern subway and train system and the shrine which looked as though it has been there for hundreds of years.  Tokyo is a city of contrasts and this was one of the largest ones I felt during my visit there.

As we entered through the large main gates it felt like we were stepping back into another world.  In fact, though, the Shinto shrine – dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken was rebuilt after World War II in the late 50s.

Posing in front of the entrance gate

Posing in front of the entrance gate

Lighting the way (though not needed during the day)

Lighting the way (though not needed during the day)

After the main entrance was a display of sake barrels that were donated to the shrine.  The bright colors and intricate wrappings almost made me want to try the sake inside.  Almost – that was one part of Japanese culture that I wasn’t up for sampling on this trip.

Barrels of sake - which is your favorite?

Barrels of sake – which is your favorite?

I like the red colored barrels.

I like the red colored barrels.

Then, before the official shrine itself was a place of purification.  There were ladles available to wash your hands, head and mouth prior to praying.

Washing area to purify before the entrance

Washing area to purify before the entrance

Walking around the inner area there was also a wall of prayers written in many languages where people put their wishes and dreams.  We didn’t write our own, but viewed what others were hoping for.  It reminded me of the wishes I saw in Seoul and the locks attached to the Buddhist shrines in China.

Approaching the main shrine

Approaching the main shrine

Spotless grounds with blue skies

Spotless grounds with blue skies

Blessings

Blessings

And more blessings

And more blessings

Like everywhere else we went in the city – the shrine was spotless.  It was a place of prayer and intentions and the tourists that mixed in with the visitors were respectful.  We were even interviewed by high school students practicing their English and trying to see where the visitors to the Shrine were from.  I haven’t had that type of interaction with language students for quite and it brought a smile to my face.

I was lucky to be able to see this side of Tokyo on my visit and would recommend a visit to the shrine if you have time.  The grounds are extensive and with the large trees a peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle outside.

Where do you find peace in busy cities?  This was the first Shinto shrine that I have been to – it is different than Buddhism or Hinduism, less gaudy – different rituals.  Does anyone have insight on the differences?

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2 Responses to “Meiji Shrine in Tokyo”

  1. Sherri August 6, 2013 at 5:07 am #

    My daughter and I really want to visit Tokyo one day but who knows when! Thanks for this very interesting post, I’ve never seen barrels of sake like this before! I have to admit, sake is not my favourite drink either!

    • gkm2011 August 6, 2013 at 7:14 am #

      I agree, it is just a little too strong! But the Japanese plum wine – that I can get behind!

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