Visit Meiji Shrine

Tokyo Travel Guides / September 28, 2016
Visit Meiji Shrine Image credit: Todd Lappin/Flickr

What
The Meiji Shrine is a large Shinto shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo that is dedicated to the souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. They are the very important persons that help in transforming Japan into a modern state.

Although their actual graves are located in Kyoto, people still initiated the construction of the shrine to venerate the beloved royal deities. 100,000 trees were donated, by people from all parts of Japan and from overseas, to create the surrounding forest that is now home to endangered flora and fauna.

Why
The Meiji Shrine immerses people in Japanese culture and tradition. If you are lucky, you can witness a traditional Shinto wedding at the shrine. Sumo dedication ceremonies are also conducted at Meiji Shrine in January and September.

For an authentic experience, act like the locals and bow at the gate before proceeding to the shrine grounds. Perform the traditional cleansing ritual by washing your hands and mouth at the temizuya. Whatever you do, don’t let the dipper touch your mouth! Pay your respects and say your prayers at the shrine. You can also write your wishes on an ema (wooden tablet) and hang it by the trees or take it home as a souvenir.

Highlights at Meiji Shrine
The torii (shrine gate) at Meiji Shrine is among the biggest that you can find in Japan. It is made of 1,500-year old cypress. There are two toriis at Meiji Shrine that both stand at an imposing height of 40 feet. Pose beneath the gate and see how it dwarfs you with its loftiness!

The Imperial Garden already existed even before the establishment of the shrine. It is said that Emperor Meiji himself designed the iris garden for Empress Shoken. The garden is a popular shrine attraction in June when the irises are in full bloom.

The Treasure Museum exhibits personal items that belonged to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The museum also displays portraits of former emperors and the elegant kimono worn by Japanese royalty.

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