The Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) is Tokyo’s (東京) most prominent Shrine (神社). It’s dedicated to the popular Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken.
With the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, Japan’s (日本) feudal era came to an end. As of that event, Japan heavily modernized to keep up with western industrial nations. Thus, Emperor Meiji was the first “modern” emperor, after the last shogunate ended.
He passed away in 1912, shortly after Empress Shoken as well in 1914. Meiji Shrine was built in their honor in year 1920.
Unfortunately, it was destroyed during World War II but was rebuilt fairly quickly.
One of the most popular shrines
It’s not only the most prominent shrine of Tokyo, in comparison to all other shrines in Japan it also ranks amongst the most popular.
Every year, around three million people come here to say their New Year’s prayers. That’s the highest number of any shrine in all of the country. Regular wedding ceremonies can also be seen here.
Meiji Shrine and its surroundings
Yoyogi Park and a vast forest of approximately 10,000 trees that were donated from regions all throughout the country surround the shrine grounds.
Around 10 minutes of walking from either entrance will get you to the center of the forest, where huge torii gates mark the shrine’s area.
This is a very relaxing walk and I highly recommend it. During a hot summer day it’s satisfyingly cool inside the forest.
It really feels like you’re not in Tokyo anymore, it’s just nature as far as your eye can see.
Another part of the Shrine grounds is the Meiji Jingu Treasure House. Personal belongings of both Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken are on display here. It is unfortunately currently closed due to construction, scheduled to finish in October 2019.
Other shrine buildings are also in the process of renovation in preparation for the shrine’s 100th anniversary in 2020. When I was there in March 2018, I didn’t really see much of the construction though, it’s pretty subtle.
The Shrine's Garden
There’s also a Garden on the shrine’s grounds that can be entered with an entrance fee of 500 Yen (3,85€/$4.55; exchange rate as of July 2018). It is open from 9am – 4:30pm (4pm from November to February) every day of the week.
Around June, the garden’s irises are in full bloom and become a very popular sight. Also, a small well that was dug out from a military commander named Kiyomasa is featured in the garden. It was once visited by the Emperor and Empress and thus gained popularity.
The whole area really is a tranquil and sacred place. Thus, in order for everyone to enjoy this aspect, it’s important to visit it quietly and respectfully!
Opening Hours & Admission Fee
- Meiji Shrine can be visited all day every day
- There are no closing days throughout the year
- Entering the shrine itself is free of charge, only the garden has an entrance fee
How to get to Meiji Shrine
The shrine is located just besides JR Harajuku Station. Reaching the areas center with all the shrine buildings takes around 15-20 minutes of walking.
There will never be a day where I write about something that I don’t recommend going to. So, definitely go! I already made a post about Harajuku and Shibuya, if you visit those you’re in the area anyway.
The shrine combined with Yoyogi Park makes for a nice relaxing noon/afternoon experience. Be that a picnic, a jog or even Cherry blossom viewing in late March/early April, the possibilities are there!
And don’t forget to take some awesome street food like crepes or takoyaki (たこ焼き) with you (there is a small restaurant right at the opposite side of Harajuku Station’s exit) and eat it in the park!
That’s it for this one my friends! Thank you so much for reading!
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