A dizzying mixture of old ways and modern style, crowds and calm, and arguably the best food scene on the planet.
Travel bucket list idea:
Meiji Jingu Shinto Shrine
Tokyo, Kanto, Japan|www.meijijingu.or.jp|
On the opposite side of Harajuku to the colourful teen fashions of Takeshita-dori and swanky boutiques of Omotesando-dori, Meiji Jingu provides the ultimate contrast to the city’s modern concrete jungle image.
Built in the 1920s to enshrine the Meiji Emperor and Empress, the Shinto shrine blends naturally into the 170 acres of lush forest that surround it.
An hour here is an opportunity to not just have a calm break from the hectic city, but to take in traditional shrine architecture and get a sense of how Shintoism is still important in modern-day Japan.
Whenever you visit, you’ll see visitors praying at the main shrine and writing wishes on votive tablets before hanging them in the inner shrine’s courtyard.
You might see a traditional Shinto wedding procession too – Meiji Jingu attracts lots of tourists, but it’s still a fully functioning shrine.
Getting there & doing it
A shrine is a sacred space, so etiquette is important. You don’t have to tiptoe around whispering, but it would be rude to make a lot of noise or let kids run around.
Other than keeping hydrated, Meiji Jingu has a no drinking rule too, as well as no eating and smoking. Photos can be taken in most areas, but not of people praying in the main sanctuary – this and other ‘no photos’ and ‘no entry’ areas are well signposted.
When to do it
The shrine is lovely all year round, but go in June and you get the bonus of seeing the iris garden in bloom.
Go early January and you’ll be one of the millions who come to offer their first prayers of the new year.
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