When in Tokyo, you might want to visit a shrine so you can experience Shinto (religion in Japan). Here, we will introduce Meiji Jingu, located in Harajuku where the trend originated.
A large shrine with abundant nature
Meiji Jingu, which is 700 thousands square meters large is used to worshiped the Meiji Emperor and Empress Shoken who modernized Japan. Thickly-grown trees were offered from all over Japan in order to build the shrine. There are now over 100,000 of such donated trees and 110,000 youth volunteers helped build the forest to what we see today. It's probably the most nature-abundant place in Tokyo.
Crossing Jingu-bashi (Jingu Bridge)
Cross the large Jingu-bashi when going to Meiji Jingu from Harajuku station. There are pillars with large lanterns at the sides of the bridge, suitable for the entrance to the solemn shrine. You can experience a fantastic atmosphere when the lights are lit at night.
Purify yourself with gravel
There are 3 ways to visit the shrine. You could come from the south via JR Harajuku station and the Meiji-jingu-mae subway station to cross Jingu-bashi, from the north via JR "Yoyogi" station or from the west from Sangu-bashi station on the Odakyu line. The ground on all 3 ways are ways are covered with pebbles. These pebbles are called "tamajari", and are essential for a holy shrine. They will purify the body and mind while walking on them but the center of the walkway is for the Gods so do walk on the side.
The largest torii (traditional Japanese gate) in Japan
A large torii, standing at 12 meters high, 17.1 meters wide, and 1.2 meters in diameter, is located at the entrance where the paths leading from the south and the north intersect. It was built from a cypress over 1500-years-old, found on a mountain 3300 meters above sea level. This Myojin-torii is the largest wooden torii in Japan.
Alcohol offered to the Gods
Walking along the walkway, you will find many sake (Japanese rice wine) casks displayed at the side. Shinto has a custom of dedicating sake to the Gods, and these casks are from breweries all over Japan, offered to the Gods at Meiji Jingu. There are even casks are from France with Burgundy wines inside.
Go to the honden (main shrine building) where the Gods reside
You will arrive at the honden after walking for around 15 minutes along the walkway. There is an area for you to wash your hands and mouth outside called Chozuya, so please do so before worshipping. You might want to take a photo here, but bear in mind that this is a spiritual place so try not to make too much noise.
Lucky wedding ceremonies
Many wedding ceremonies are performed at shrines in Japan. You may be able to witness a wedding at Meiji Jingu if you are lucky. A person serving a God at this shrine will lead the procession with the bride and the groom to see the God. It is said that people who witness this scene will also become happy.
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