Meiji Jingu is a major Shinto shrine and a nature park dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji (1868-1912), one of Japan’s most highly regarded and best-loved emperors, and his wife, Empress Shoken.
Emperor Meiji was the 122nd emperor of Japan, ascending to the chrysanthemum throne in 1868 at the age of just 14. He ruled the country for almost half a century.
During his reign, Japan advanced from a feudal backward country to the position of a powerful imperialistic state. The emperor devoted all his life to the improvement of the well-being and the peace of the nation. Due to this, he won the respect and love of the Japanese. Even nowadays, almost a hundred years after his death, he remains one of the highly esteemed emperors in Japan.
Although the body of the emperor was buried in Kyoto, the Japanese believe that his soul dwells in Meiji. The shrine was constructed in 1920 by over 100,000 volunteers, who thus expressed their gratefulness and love to the emperor. The shrine was ruined completely during the air raids in 1945 and in 1958 it was carefully rebuilt in the image of the original.
Meiji Shrine’s Torii Gates
To enter the shrine you have to pass two huge wooden gates – torii, to purify your mind and heart. Torii is a traditional architectural construction, which can be found only in Japan. Its origin can be traced to Shinto mythology.
Torii symbolizes the perch that was constructed by gods to lure Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, from the cave. A lot of birds gathered on the perch and woke the goddess with loud songs.
The Meiji Torii was built of Taiwanese cypresses that are more than 1,700 years old. The shrine is an outstanding example of dignified and refined Shinto architecture that is characterized by muted colors and strict lines.
Different religious ceremonies and traditional weddings are regularly held in the shrine.
New Year’s At Meiji Jingu Shrine
But the most impressive sight is New Year’s Eve when about two million people come to the shrine to pray for well-being and happiness.
This event becomes so popular that the streets are filled with people and the whole city becomes alive. The Shrine brings tourists from all over the world to take part in this celebration. Even locals from countries like Singapore and Thailand travel to Tokyo to bring in the New Year.
Hotel prices around this time start to increase due to the growing anticipation of the upcoming event, so booking a hotel in Tokyo several months in advance is a good idea to ensure a room at a reasonable price.
The shrine and new years gathering is a beautiful and unique spectacle and it is no wonder it attracts so many people each year.
Buy A Tablet At Meiji Shrine For Good Luck
In the shrine yard, a sacred tree grows. The fence around it is covered with a great number of wooden tablets. You can buy such a tablet and write any of your wishes on it.
The priests of the Meiji shrine will daily pray for your wish to come true and maybe gods will favor you.
The Surrounding Gardens Of Meiji Shrine
The Shinto shrine is surrounded by an evergreen park that stretches for 700,000 square meters. There are more than 120,000 trees of 365 species.
All of them were presented by the Japanese in memory of a great emperor. Annually on the Emperor’s birthday, on November 3, a traditional festival is held in the park.
The Meiji Park can be divided into two: the Outer Garden contains the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery and several sports facilities, including the National Stadium and Jingu Baseball Stadium, and the Inner Garden, where the emperor’s shrine, the empress’ iris gardens, and the Imperial couple’s Treasure House are located.
The iris garden, occupying the territory of 1,600 square meters, presents an enchanting sight from the beginning of June up to the middle of July. At this time, hundreds of sorts of irises flourish turning the park into a multicolored palette.
The emperor himself planted 80 species of irises for his beloved wife in 1897. The purest spring wells out among the irises, watering the flowers.