Located in the heart of Tokyo, Japan, Meiji Jingu is the city’s most famous spiritual attraction. The landmark enshrines Emperor Meiji and his wife – Empress Shōken, who had great impacts on Japan’s development.
About Meiji Jingu
Meiji Jingu is dedicated to the memory of Emperor Meiji, a famous figure in Japanese history with the reforms called the Meiji Restoration.
He was crowned Emperor in 1867, at just 15 years old, and was the 122nd Emperor of the Royal Family.
Emperor Meiji was the first modern Emperor of Japan. He had a significant impact on making Japan a modern nation and free from the danger of colonization of Western colonialism.
In 1920, eight years after the Emperor’s death, although he was buried in Kyoto, Meiji Shrine was built in Tokyo to commemorate and honor him as a deity in Shinto religion. Empress Shōken, his wife, was also worshiped here.
Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Open hours: From sunrise to sunset
How to get to Meiji Jingu
Meiji Jingu Shrine is located in Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo. The most convenient way is to use the Yamanote Line and get off at Harajuku Station.
After getting off at Harajuku Station, walk to the right about 100 meters, you will see the main entrance of the Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Meiji Jingu entrance fees and opening hours
Meiji Shrine is free to enter at any time
Treasure House is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm. Ticket price ¥ 500, until November, 12 is closed at 16:00, visitors enter 30 minutes before closing
The Inner Garden is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm. Ticket price ¥ 500
In November and December, both Treasure House and Inner Garden close at 4 pm, and visitors can enter 30 minutes before closing. In mid-June, both open one more hour.
Best places to stay near Meiji Jingu Tokyo
I love staying in the Shibuya area, as it’s one of the most bustling places in Tokyo.
Also, the location is very convenient because you can easily walk to Meiji Jingu or take a train to Harajuku Station within a few minutes.
Best time to visit Meiji Jingu
As the area is located within a forest, you can visit the shrine at any time.
The most popular time is Hatsumode. For Japanese people, going to the temple within the first three days of the new year is extremely important. An estimated 3 million visitors visit Meiji Jingu Shrine within the first three days of the new year.
Explore Meiji Jingu Shrine
My first impression when walking through the Torii gate was a pleasant feeling as if I just stepped in another world.
While outside is a modern, vibrant and bustling Japan, the area was green and surprisingly peaceful.
It’s perhaps because Meiji Jingu was surrounded by vast dense forest. About 100,000 trees were planted in the Meiji Jingu forest during temple construction and were donated from various regions across the country.
With fresh nature, airy forests, this forest made me feel relaxed. In particular, I could spot Haiku poetry that Emperor Meiji read everywhere here.
Continuing to look around, I saw that not only foreign tourists but also a lot of Japanese people came here to visit.
However, the time that Meiji Jingu welcomed the most tourists is in the first days of the new year when the Japanese perform the Hatsumode ritual. It’s the custom of asking for blessings at the beginning of the year at temples and pagodas.
The main buildings of the Meiji Shrine are located about a 10-minute walk from either the south gate near Harajuku station or the north door near Yoyogi station.
The temple’s entrance is adorned with large gates, behind which is the vast forest separating the temple from the noisy streets.
Meiji Jingu Treasure House
Going to the north of the temple, I found Meiji Jingu Treasure House, built a year after the temple was opened.
This house contains the personal belongings of the Emperor and queen, including the car that the king sat during the declaration of the Meiji Constitution in 1889.
There is also the Museum Building on the east side of the main temple.
A large area south of the temple is the Inner Park, which requires payment to visit.
The garden is most famous in mid-June when the iris flowers bloom.
A small well in the garden, called the Kiyomasa Well, was named after a shogun dug it about 400 years ago. The King and Queen visited this well while they were alive, so it became a “holy destination.”
The rituals at Meiji Jingu
Temizuya: The Cleansing Ritual
Like any Shinto shrine throughout Japan, before entering the main hall, visitors must perform hand-washing and mouth-washing rituals to purify body and mind at the Temizuya.
Guide to Temizuya cleansing
Take the water ladle with your right hand, collect the water from the tank, use that water to wash your left hand first, and then your right hand.
Next, pour water into your left palm and wash your mouth.
Finally, carefully set the ladle vertically so that the water left in the spoon flowed out outside before putting it back in its original position.
Be careful not to drink water from the tap nor throw coins here.
Before praying, bow two times and clap your hands. After praying, bow again.
If desired, you may place a few coins in the Saisenbako offering box before praying. These sacrifices offered to the gods are believed to help people reduce their sins.
Writing wishes on wooden board
Shinto and Buddhist worshippers write prayers or wishes on Ema, which are small wooden plaques.
The ema are left hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits or gods) are believed to receive them.
Traditional Japanese wedding organization in Meiji Jingu is one of the features here.
The bride wears a white kimono, which symbolizes purity and purity. The groom wears men’s traditional Haori and Hakama.