Tuesday, March 8, 2016

::SPECIAL:: #Travel♪ A Walk Through the Majestic Meiji Jingu Shrine

A Walk Through Meiji Jingu 

Shrine in Shibuya

In many instances, Tokyo can be referred to as
an emotionally draining concrete jungle with no signs of
greenery whatsoever. But the negativity of such a statement
won't do any favors for building tourism and one important
concept of not just Tokyo but also in life must be understood.
 You need to have a lack of something, in order to truly
appreciate it fully.

It's true that Tokyo doesn't have many green spaces but the
 ones it does have are simply amazing. Almost transformative,
the collection of parks in Tokyo are among the best I've
experienced since coming to Japan.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Oddly Reminiscent of Central Park, New York

First of all you must know, the urban parks in Tokyo are very
inconspicuous, often being completely surrounded by
large buildings in all directions. Just imagine Central Park
in New York and you'll know what I mean...^^

Being city-locked so to speak is actually a good thing,
because after entering the park you'll find that even though
you're in the heart of a metropolis, all the sounds of
the city fade away as the sound of nature drowns it out.
What is the sound of nature you may be wondering?
Well it's the sound of chirping birds, rustling leaves
and scent, that's right SCENT of fresh air.
Trust me, it's overwhelming...

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu is a Shinto Shrine built almost 90 years go in
dedication to the deified spirits of former Emperor Meiji
and Empress Shoken. At the time the construction, the
forest itself was considered a huge national endeavor
with people helping from across the country. About
110,000 young volunteers donated their time
and efforts planting some 100,000 trees that
were collected from all over Japan and overseas.

The benefit of this is some pretty unique
tree formations from the various species of
trees aggregated in the same area.

Meiji Jingu Shrine:
Address: 1-1, Kamizono-chō Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 151-0053
Website: www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
*no closing days
Fee: Free

Treasure house:
Hours: 9am to 4:30pm (Nov. to Feb. until 4pm)
Admission ends 30 minutes prior to closing time
*No closing days
Fee: 500 yen

Inner Garden:
Hours: 9am to 4:30pm (Nov. to Feb. until 4pm)
Admission ends 30 minutes prior to closing time
Extended hours during the middle of June.
*No closing days
Fee: 500 yen


A Collection of Torii

What exactly are torii?

A simplistic answer would be that they are essentially
gates that mark the boundary between the sacred
plane and the profane.

A bit more complicated answer would say that it
is not exactly a gate separating good vs. evil, but instead
a dichotomy of the relevance in perception to each
individual passing through the gate itself. After
entering, the sacred representing the things
relevant to the group with an emphasis on
unity, and outside the gate, profane representing
things that are important to each individual.

Personally I like to imagine I'm passing through
a wormhole to a whole new dimension! ^^

It's just not the same...

I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of a nature freak
and every time I'm near a park, my nature senses start
tingling. There's something about looking skyward to see
the sky blocked out by trees that's good for your soul.

Speaking of souls, the souls of Emperor Meijii and Empress
Shoken are said to reside within every tree sincerely planted by
hand... Endearing or chilling thought?.. One can't really decide.
After over 90 years of semi-controlled growth the forest
is almost indistinguishable from a naturally occurring forest,
with many endangered plants and animals now present.

Eye-catching Barrels

A typical scene in a Shinto shrine will be a carefully
stacked assortment of Sake Barrels, which are called
kazaridaru in Japanese. This word literally means
"decoration barrels", so sorry to shatter the hopes
of anyone wanting to find endless amounts of free sake
 inside of them!

God Wine

An ancient word used for sake was miki, and this word
was written using the characters for 'God' and 'wine'
respectively. Nowadays the word is still used for Shinto
festivals to refer to the rice wines used. In Shinto culture it's
believed that the sake is necessary to reach a higher
connection and unification with the gods.

What's more interesting is the fact that brewers of the
 wine have a special relationship with the Shrines in which
the Shrines get free donations of wine and the brewers
receive prayers for prosperity from the Shrines.

Unique coincidence?.. ^^

There's also wine!

On the opposite side Bourgogne wine barrels can
 be found with a special poem inscribed next to it in

“Provenance of the Bourgogne Wine
for Consecration at Meiji Jingu
By gaining the good and rejecting what is
It is our desire that we’ll compare
With other lands abroad

– Poem by Emperor Meiji

Emperor Meiji was one of the first to truly
embrace Western culture while promoting
modernization while holding fast to Japan's
age-old traditions, and as a direct reflection
of his contributions the barrels were placed
here in his honor.

The Meiji Shrine Sanshuden

Though the shrine was built almost 90 years ago
it has seen one major renovation or re-building in the
from the 1940s to the 1950s after the original buildings
were destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of World War II.
As a result, the present iteration of the shrines were built
thanks to generous public fund raising and completed
in the late 1950s.

Proper Shrine etiquette

The first thing that'll catch your attention when you
enter a shrine are flowing fountains of water. These
purification fountains are used to cleanse your body
before entering the shrine. First take a ladle and fill it
with water and use it to rinse both hands. Then pour
some water into a cupped hand and rinse out your
mouth, spitting the water besides the fountain.

Traditionally it's not advised to visit a shrine when
you are sick, have an open wound or are in mourning
 because these afflictions are considered impure.
You are not supposed to swallow the water or transfer
water from the up directly to your mouth. However you
may see visitors who skip these steps directly but go figure...

For more about etiquette:

Heavenly Shrine

At last we've made our way to the main section of
the shrine, so just sit back and admire it's beauty
for a couple of minutes...

There are several events that are held here throughout
the year including Japanese Lacquer exhibitions, celebrations
for the foundation of Japan(kigensai), ceremonies praying
for a bountiful harvest and prosperity of the imperial family
(kinensai). It's also possible to have weddings at the shrine, so
you may run into a couple during the happiest time of their lives.

More info about events:

If you're feeling up to it, take a walk to this unique shrine
in the middle of one of the busiest parts of Tokyo and soak
up all the nature you can.

Until next time, safe travels! ^^

Meiji Jingu Shrine:
Address: 1-1, Kamizono-chō Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 151-0053
Website: www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
*no closing days
Fee: Free

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