Meiji Shrine

The Meiji Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo

Traveling can be so exciting. Sometimes questions come to mind that you never thought of before. In Tokyo, I made my way to the Meiji Shrine, and that’s where it started. The Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular sights in Tokyo and is located in Yoyogi Park. During the cherry blossom season, the park is one of the places to go for cherry blossom tourists – everything is bathed in pink blossoms and Japanese and tourists alike go crazy over so much nature. I was hoping to catch a bit of the cherry blossom hype as well, but unfortunately the strong winds the night before had swept away pretty much all the remnants of the dwindling cherry blossoms.

entrance to meiji shrine in tokyo japan

Religions in Japan: What is Shinto?

Anyway, off to the shrine. Unprepared as I was once again, I knew nothing about it. Shrine? Had to be something religious, I guess. But what about religions in Japan? I rarely felt stupid because I had no idea at all. The Japanese were not influenced by Christianity, and everything that went in the direction of Asia was to me always somehow connected to Buddhism. But this didn’t look like a buddhist temple at all.

meiji shrine

One look at Wikipedia, travel guides and a few signs later, I knew: The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to one of the last emperors, Emperor Meiji, and his wife. And: It’s a Shinto temple. Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion and cultural philosophy – and if I’m honest, even after visiting and reading about it for a long time, it was too complex for me to really understand what it’s all about.

You can find more travel reports from Japan here on the blog!

Shinto at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

But enjoying and marveling at the new impressions was more than enough for me. For example, upon entering the shrine area, worshippers must complete a certain hand-washing ritual, following a highly specified sequence.

hand washing in shinto shrine

Also the prayer is very special. You stand in line. Pray. Then toss a coin. Clap your hands firmly twice. Pray. And that’s it. It’s fascinating how accurate Japanese are!

prayer ritual in shinto shrine japan

If you like, you can hang wooden boards with your personal wishes on a tree. And some of the messages on the other boards are just touching.

wooden panels in the meiji shrine in tokyo japan

Getting married at a Shinto shrine

For an emotional memory on top, there were several original Shinto weddings that took place on site – and brides as well as wedding guests looked so beautiful, I would have loved to throw myself into a kimono right there and then.

Meiji Jing Gyoen – the Japanese garden

If you come from the direction of Harajuku to the Meiji Shrine, you should definitely visit the Meiji Jing Gyoen, a separate garden in the middle of the park. There’s an admission fee, but the sheer silence is so worth it. It’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of a huge metropolis.

meiji jingu gyoen japanese garden

The sake barrels at the Meiji Shrine

Also near the entrance to the garden is a huge wall of sake barrels – all are donations that are supposed to bring good luck. And to visitors it’s an amazing photo op!

Meiji Shrine

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Who is
The Happy Jetlagger?

Hey! That’s me, Tatiana. Traveling around the world has been my dream since I was a child. When I was 21, I became a flight attendant for a German airline.
In 2015 I founded The Happy Jetlagger and since then I’ve also been a blogger, photographer and travel influencer. Here on my travel blog, The Happy Jetlagger, I share tips and inspiration for the modern traveler.

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