Serenity in Meiji Shrine

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 4
Locations: Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū), Tokyo


After spending some time strolling around the urban Tokyo, let's take a peek of a calm, relaxed, tranquil, and serene Tokyo. Meiji Shrine's Southern gate is located exactly beside Takeshita Street in Harajuku, and you can reach it by walking from Harajuku Station. You can also reach Meiji Shrine's Northern gate from Yoyogi Station. You can locate the shrine entrance easily from its large torii gate and a pretty wide road. This Shrine is dedicated to first emperor of Modern Japan, Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920s.


It took me approximately 15 minutes walk to get to the main complex of shrine buildings from the Southern gate. Before I reached the main complex I came across barrels of sake (Nihonshu-do, 日本酒度), which are donated to the Meiji Shrine by its patrons. Beside the sake barrels, are barrels of wine. 


When I reached the entrance of the shrine's main building, firstly I have to do the hand washing custom known as chōzuya or temizuya (手水舎). There is a chōzubachi (手水鉢) , a water basin provided to perform the custom. The process of the custom is similar to wudu ritual performed before Muslims before they having their prayer. It involves washing both of your hands and washing your mouth. It was such a privilege for me to know and perform some customs and rituals across the world!


Finally I got into the main Shrine building! In the main building, there are some activities visitors can do, including making an offering in the main hall, buying amulets and charms, or writing wishes on an ema.

When you want to make a wish, go to the offering box (賽銭箱, saisen-bako) located at the main hall, toss some yen into the offering box, bow twice, clap twice, bow again, and then make a wish. I successfully doing this after watching several locals, to avoid cultural faux pas, hehe. You can also make a wish by writing it on a piece of paper and then tie them into the prayer wall.


You can also buy an ema (絵馬) for 500 yen. You can write whatever you wish for and then hang it on the wooden planks that surrounding a tree. I spent a lot of time reading all of the wishes that were written and some of them are so heartwarming. 


Many Shinto weddings are usually held in Meiji Shrine on Sunday mornings, and there is an office located near the entrance that you can visit to arrange a marriage ceremony. The biggest festival that are held in here is probably Hatsumōde (初詣), the first visit to the shrine on 1st January. Some other festivals that are held here are Coming of Age Day (成人の日 Seijin no Hi), a celebration for those who turned 20 in the current year (I should be celebrating it now, hehe!), and Seven-Five-Three Day (七五三).

Well, that's all for today. Stay tune for other posts about my trip in Japan. By the way, I will revise some of the posts that were already been posted and probably will add more photos! See you!

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