Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Meiji Shrine: 明治神宮
It's located conveniently close by the massive Yoyogi Park as well as the Harajuku shopping precinct in central Tokyo, just minutes from Shibuya.
Meiji Jingū (明治神宮) is the Shinto shrine dedicated to the divine soul of Emperor Meiji, the second son of Emperor Komei, and the royal instigator of the much-touted Meiji Restoration - which brought Japan out of 300 years of feudal isolation.
When he passed away in 1912, the emperor was in fact buried in the Fushimi Momoyama Ryo in Kyoto, but his soul was enshrined in Meiji Jingu here in Tokyo once the shrine was constructed on November 1, 1920.
Surrounding the huge shrine complex is a 700,000 square-meter evergreen forest of some 120,000 trees, boasting 365 different varieties.
Literally millions, jammed together, visit over the first few days of each New Year, and seijinsai (the coming-of-age ceremony for girls) is celebrated here, just as it is at other shrines in Japan, in January.
People get wedding pictures here, and kids celebrate shichi-go-san (traditional rites of passage for three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys). We took our daughter here for her third birthday.
But there are some more vital events held in Meiji Jingu.
During the Spring Grand Festival at the end of April, bugaku (a traditional form of ceremonial dance and music), noh (traditional theatre), sankyoku and hogaku (traditional music), hobu (traditional dance), and kyudo (a Japanese variant on archery) are performed.
During the Autumn Grand Festival in early November, in addition to the same events as the Spring Grand Festival, yabusame (horseback archery), budo (martial arts), and aikido are also showcased.
My only complaint is that it's a long stroll across gravel surfaces from Harajuku Station.