In the Shibuya area you can find the mighty Meiji Jingu shrine, where the souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken are worshiped. Today it is one of the most important tourist spots in Tokyo, attracting thousands of tourists from the early hours of the morning.
The site is located in a forest in the middle of the capital city. This forest is made up of more than 120,000 trees of 365 species donated by each prefecture in Japan and some from people abroad. In this sanctuary only the souls of the Emperor and Empress are venerated, but it is not a tomb, this is in Kyoto. It was completed in 1926 and was a national project as a way of thanking Emperor Meiji for his hard work in modernizing and industrializing Japan. It was included in the list of the most important shrines, therefore before the post-war constitution, this shrine was funded by the government of Japan.
Sadly, the original shrine was destroyed by US forces in the Tokyo bombings. Japan pleaded with US forces not to bombard buildings of historical or spiritual importance as much as possible, but still burned the entire area where this important shrine stood to ashes. After the war, in 1958, it was rebuilt again thanks to donations from people who wanted to see this important standing sanctuary again.
In the enclosures you can see barrels of sake of various brands from all over Japan as offerings to the Emperor. There are also barrels of French wine as offerings. This is because before the Meiji Era, wine was not marketed in Japan, and thanks to the Meiji Emperor, the wine industry began to have an impact on Japanese society.
It is very shocking to find such a traditional place surrounded by nature just a few minutes from the most crowded crossroads in the world, the Shibuya crossing. The Toriis (sacred doors of Shinto) of this shrine are made of wood, and without a single nail.
The Meiji Shrine is a perfect place for those who are looking for a traditional and spiritual corner in modern Tokyo. It is completely filled with people in the first days of the year, the “Hatsumode”, the first visit of the year to the shrine. It is quite spacious and it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes to make the walk to the main sanctuary. Being literally in a forest, it is recommended to take all the precautions to be able to enjoy the sacred experience.
Normally, weekends can be given the opportunity to see a traditional Shinto wedding, as this shrine is very important to the Japanese citizen. As a bonus, on the outskirts of the sanctuary is the bridge that connects Omotesando Street with Meiji Jingu. This bridge is called “Jingu Bashi” and you can regularly enjoy urban artists making music, models of the extravagant Harajuku fashion, and social organizations seeking support from Japanese and tourists.
The Meiji Jingu Shrine is an important visit point in Tokyo, because thanks to the Meiji Emperor, the modern Tokyo we know today was gradually being built until it was the most modern city in the world.
For this and many more reasons, offering respect at the Meiji Jingu Shrine is one of the fundamental points that cannot be missed in the visit schedule.