Visiting Memorable Meiji Jingu

Japan has many shrines and temples, and the Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu), in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward, is one of the most important. This popular Shinto shrine is used by many locals for prayers, rituals, and other religious activities.

In Honor of the Emperor and Empress

The Meiji Shrine was built to commemorate Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken, who both had greatly contributed to the modernization of Japan through the Meiji Restoration. Because the Shinto religion believes that divinity or Kami can exist within nature and humanity, and because of the virtues the pair had shown in life, they are considered deities. The shrine was built to honor them.

Meiji Shrine | Dick Thomas Johnson

Much ingenious hard work  was poured into making the shrine.  Meiji Jingu’s construction began in 1915, after the deaths of the Emperor in 1912 and the Empress in 1914. The grounds were formally completed in 1926. It was made with copper and the best available wood, Japanese cypress.

Meiji Jingu is entered through two of the country’s biggest torii. These shrine gates are made of ancient (over 1,700 years old) cypress wood, and they loom imposingly over the constant stream of visitors.

The shrine’s main building was destroyed during World War II’s Tokyo air raids but was later rebuilt with the help of contributions by the Japanese public. Reconstruction was completed in 1958.

Two Main Areas

Naien—the inner precinct where one can see the shrine’s treasures and other precious articles, many of which belonged to the Emperor and the Empress.

Gaien—the outer area of the shrine. Within it are several prominent structures. At the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery you can see a collection of 80 large murals of events in the lives of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken. You can also visit the National Olympic Stadium and the Meiji Memorial Hall (now commonly used in Shinto weddings).

Praying at the Shrine | cinz

Meiji Jingu’s Evergreen Forest

Another well-loved feature of Meiji Jingu is the vast forest (700,000 sq.m. or about 175 acres) that surrounds it.  When the shrine was built, approximately 120,000 trees of 365 species were donated by people from all over Japan.  Visitors to Meiji Jingu can stroll down the forest paths and relax beneath the canopy of trees. It is easy to forget the hectic pace of Tokyo while within the Meiji Jingu grounds.

Meiji Jingu torii and surrounding forest | Paul VanDerWerf

Location:  at 1-1, Kamizono-chō, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0053. The shrine’s opening and closing hours depend on the times of sunrise and sunset, therefore these vary each month. Hours open as early as 5 am in May to 6:40 am in January and December.  Admission is free.