Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. Emperor Meji abolished old Japan feudalism and established the new democratic Japan. He also changed the moved from Kyoto to make Tokyo the new capital city of Japan.
Empress Shoken was the first politically active Empress and she had the opportunity to be educated with the same lectures and information available to the Emperor. She was the Emperor’s right hand man and continued his work with both war and peace movements after he died. Empress Shoken was actively promoting the Red Cross Society and education on women. She started the trend for japanese women to stop wearing kimonos and convert to western dreses. Thus you can see why the japanese feel that it was a absolute need to create a place of worship for Emperor Meji and Empress Shoken at one of their favorite spots.
I love that the whole shrine is mainly made out of cypress wood! Gorgeous!
As you proceed to the Main Shrine building, if you wish, may throw some coins into the Offering Box. In front of the Main Shrine, you bow twice, clap your hand twice and then bow once more.
I love love love the huge wooden doors with their intricate details. Even the little screws are patterned and designed to blend in with the overall design. Fantastic!
Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 is very popular for weddings and folk dances. And we were lucky to run into a bridal procession. Other than the gorgeous kimono and the striking gold obi, what impressed me most was her hair-do! I’m not sure if it’s a wig or if it’s real but it must have taken ages to get it done right and it should be pretty heavy!
For those of you that would like to catch Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 festivities at their finest, their biggest event is Hatsu-mōde, on January 1st. Every Japanese would want to make their first visit to the shrine for the new year for good blessings. Be prepared to really be jostled with the crowds! Another date is 2nd Monday in January ( a holiday in Japan). They celebrate Seijin-no-hi (Coming of Age Day). All 20-year-olds will wear elaborate traditional kimonos to visit the shrine. The gravel path is lined with ice sculptures and there is a performance of traditional momoteshiki archery. Youths will then go partying or clubbing after and you can expect clubs to be really happening!
And lastly I know a friend who might be keen on going to Japan sometime end of this year, so if you’re reading it, you might want to visit Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 on Shichi-go-san-no-hi Day, 15th November, when all the children aged 3, 5 and 7 will go to the shrine for blessings.
In the grounds of the temple, it’s impossible to miss this hugea sacred camphor tree tree with Ema, wooden votive tablets of wishes or prayers surrounding it.
You can buy at votive tablet for ¥500 each and write your prayers or wishes on it and then hang it around the divine tree. These Ema are offered at Mikesai, a morning ceremony held every day where shrine priests will then pray for your wishes to come true.
All of us wanted to write down our wishes! For ourselves, our friends and our family.
Koji babe went one step further and also submitted a written prayer on top of her Ema.
Here’ s my wishes… simple but evergreen. The amazing thing about the wishes around the tree, they are in a multitude of languages from all parts of the world. Some carry beautiful memories, some really funny, some with sad stories and yet others with just pictures instead of words. Yet they all come with good intentions and sincerity. I think it’s an extremely beautiful and enlightening ritual.
And since we four girls made such a wonderful trip together to Japan, we needed to write one in significance to our friendship and love for each other.
Finally we made our way into the inner shrine.
Hope you enjoyed the Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 post =) I’m gonna leave you with a short video which you can also see how we drew for lots in which the shrine’s priestess would give us a segment poem written by either Emperor Meiji or his wife Empress Shoken to enlighten our ways.