Meiji Jingu Visit

So my friend Linda and I have tried to find a time to go to Meiji Shrine for over a month now and we just haven’t been able to make it happen {including a guilt-ridden cancellation on my part a few weeks ago}.  But today was the day we wrote it on each of our calendars in pen! and were set to try again.

It was a gorgeous day and we arrived to find the popular site not terribly crowded.  Meiji Jingu was originally built in 1915 and is dedicated to the deified spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his wife, the Empress Shoken.  The original building was destroyed during World War II, but was rebuilt in 1958.  The shrine is located on a 700,000 square meter forest that includes over 100,000 individual trees, each donated by a Japanese citizen when the shrine was re-built.

The toriis (gates) and buildings are primarily of cypress and copper.  This torii is the largest wooden one in all of Japan.

What we didn’t realize was that we had arrived on a special day right between events!  We did, unfortunately miss a sacred dance performance done this morning by the Shrine Maidens to commemorate the anniversary of the enshrinement of the Emperor and Empress.  But as we were walking the grounds people were arriving for the Autumn Grand Festival Ceremonies.

We passed award-winning Chrysanthemums on display, which are an integral part of the crest of the Imperial Family of Japan.  These were a far cry from the grocery-store mums that usually graced my front steps!

{I am 5’4″ and most of these came up to the top of my head!}

We saw many varieties of mums I’d never seen before: miniatures like bonsai and enormous single plants that had been trimmed into shapes like hedges.

As we approached the actual shrine we began to sense things were going on as there were a lot of maintenance men ensuring the area was in tip-top condition.  This gentleman was methodically sweeping the gravel to make sure it was even for walkers.

Before entering the shrine there is a place to wash hands and rinse mouths.  It was lovely watching mothers show children what to do.

November also begins the Children’s Festival in Japan, which celebrates 3 and 7-year-old girls and 5-year-old boys, so there were many families there with their children dressed in beautiful kimonos taking pictures.  I couldn’t believe how precious they all looked.  They had the most beautifully tied obis and such elaborate hair dos!  Many generations of family members were there, and I witnessed several grandmothers teaching their grandchildren how to clap and bow to pray at the shrine.  It was so sweet to watch their gentle instruction and pride even if I couldn’t understand their words.

And look even closer at her little shoes ~ there are bells inside them, so as she walked around, she jingled!  Too cute!

As we turned and walked down a path we suddenly saw many Shinto priests in silent meditation.  It was so peaceful to watch as one at a time they deeply bowed in rhythm to a slowly beating drum.

And then they turned and walked through the torii to the ceremony.

As I left Meiji Jingu, I passed the giant sake drums.  Look how brightly colored they are.

I couldn’t decide which was my favorite design.  Mt. Fuji or the Golden Party Guy? {I’m’ sure there’s some proper name for him, but that’s what Linda and I came up for him.  I mean he IS a giant sake barrel, right?!}

Before I left I made sure to write out a prayer for peace, health and happiness for my family and friends wherever they might be in the world.  And left it and my offering for the priests.  It seemed the least I could do after such a day of beauty.

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5 Responses to Meiji Jingu Visit

  1. swissmisslinda says:

    Lovely! What a wonderful day it was! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jennifer Nation says:

    I have always loved your blog for the crafts you have shared, but as a long time world traveler that is USA-grounded I find that i am enjoying your posts about Japan very much!
    I hope you keep doing a good mixture of each, I love your blog, even with this new topic!

    Take care!

  3. glamcookie says:

    Gorgeous! I’m so jealous of your fabulous experiences.

  4. shelli says:

    I love reading your descriptions of things–it’s like poetry.


  5. Suzy says:

    I spent a semester in Tokyo during college and this brings back such great memories! Thanks for sharing!

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