26 Interesting Facts About Meiji Shrine

When life is giving you lemons, and it gets pretty stressful, ordinary or super boring, it is quite common for a person to crave for a change of scene in order to revitalize and refresh his body, mind, and soul. That is when the traveling comes in. Moving to different countries offers a leap into a totally new culture where you learn, explore and grow. The foreign aspect makes us broaden our horizons but also introduces new concepts in life. If it is some rich culture that one is seeking, then Asia is brimming with such great cultures. One f them is definitely Japan.

There are hundreds of places that one can visit in Japan depending upon what kind of experiences in life one is looking for. For an urban experience, one must visit Tokyo. It is rich in culture and heritage as well as pretty forward in many aspects too. The capital center of Japan has an abundance of things to offer. Besides all sorts of fun experiences, one comes to Japan to have a spiritual experience of the Meji Shrine. Even if you did not know about the Meji Shrine, worry not. We’ve got you covered. Here we have listed 26 interesting facts about Meji Shrine for you to have a super indulgence into the spiritual and religious world. Therefore, think less, and dive into it.

Image: Flickr
1. Tokyo Olympics

As for the future, the shrine will commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2020. Doesn’t it seem like a good year? Well, Tokyo will also host the Olympics at the same time. Double good news for the people and tourists of Tokyo.

Source: japantimes.co.jp, Gif: Giphy
2. History Behind The Shrine

Like every other culturally significant thing, there is a rich history behind the Tokyo shrine too. The Meiji Shrine is also known as Meiji Jingu and was gifted to Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken. The Japanese Diet transferred the judgment to memorialize the part of the sovereign in the Meiji Restoration. The decision to build the shrine in an iris garden in Tokyo was taken when the Emperor passed out. The iris garden was selected because it was here where both the emperor and empress were known to take a stroll quite often.

Source: thoughtco.com, Image: Flickr
3. A Road to Modernisation

During when the modernization was on the verge of happening, it was Emperor Meiji who was crowned to rule Japan. He was considered the first emperor of the Country. It was during this period that the restoration program of the Meiji shrine was at its peak while the feudal era also had just ended. It was the time of development, of westernization and modernization.

Source: similarworlds.com, Image: Flickr
4. Constructed in a Japanese Traditional Style 

The shrine was done in a total Japanese traditional style with Japanese cypress and copper as the base elements. This traditional Japanese style is called nagare zukuri style in Japanese.

Source: tateshina.co.jp, Image: Flickr
5. The Contribution of People 

This fact will showcase the strong bond amongst the people of Japan. The restoration was considered as a national project. Therefore, several institutions in Japan initiated their individual respective donations and grants to assist in the completion of the construction. The associations included groups like youth group and civic associations that provided aid in terms of both labor work and collecting funds.

Source: trulytokyo.com
6. The Support of the Government

The shrine was officially designated as among one of the Kanpei-taisha, which implies that it was amongst the higher ranks of shrines that were back up by the efforts of the government and the people. It got such recognition because of its status as an Imperial shrine. This went as far as the year 1946.

Source: trulytokyo.com
7. Amidst the Trees

The forest that encompass the shrine has almost 100,000 trees that adds to the tranquillity of the location. The forest comprises of trees of various species. Interestingly, all these trees were donated by people or organizations from every corner of Japan.

Source: similarworlds.com, Image: Flickr
8. The Power Spot of the Shrine

The often overlooked part of the Shrine is its elaborated Inner Garden which is located at the southern part of the shrine. Not many people consider it to be, but it is quite an important part of the shrine. These iris gardens are one of the reasons why the Meiji shrine was actually built here. These gardens were often visited by the Emperor and Empress. The garden consists of an attractive maze of picturesque forest walks and traditional iris gardens. It also encompasses a classical Japanese tea stall. The garden requires an entrance fee but it is not that expensive. The garden consists of a power spot too where the people come to restore their energy by purging out the negatives and taking in the positives. The spot is called Kiyomasa’s Well, which is named after the person who dug it almost 400 years ago. The person was a military officer.

Source: trulytokyo.com, Image: Flickr
9. A Center For Events

Taking for it to be such a famed shrine, it i sbound to host many kinds of festivals and celebrations throughout the year. The celebrations being with the New Year’s day with Nikku sai, where millions of people flock the shrine to wish for a good fortune. The celebrations continue throughout the year up until the end of the year when the Joya sai falls (December 31). Throughout the year there is a lot of commotion. One internationally recognized festival is the Spring Grand Festival that happens in late April and the beginning of May. The shrine hosts unimaginable performances done by various experts in the field of dance and music. Besides the festivities, you can often spot the traditional Shinto wedding happening in the Meiji Jingu shrine. In summation, there is always something happening 365 days of the year so stay active!

Source: trulytokyo.com, Image: Flickr
10. Visitor Activities

Tokyo 2011

Guests and travelers are often encouraged to participate in plenty of Shinto activities, including to deliver a contribution in the central hall space and writing wishes and desires on an ema (special wooden plate), which is then left behind at the memorial. Talismans and amulets are also accessible for buying.

Source: taiken.co, Image: Flickr
11. Destruction During Tokyo Air Raids

The Shrine we see today is not the original one, and in fact, has been iterated. This is sadly due to the destruction caused at the original shrine building during the Tokyo air raids in world war two. However, the people remained resilient and the construction was soon done and dusted in October 1958. The local public made a joint effort to raise funds for this.

Source: latimes.com, Image: Flickr
12. Popular Amongst Foreign Officials

Because of its immense popularity and it attracting thousands of tourists each year, many foreign officials have been attracted to visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the past years. These officials include German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and The President of the United States, George W. Bush.

Source: traveljapan.com
13.  100th Birthday

So what is the Meiji shrine getting for its birthday? Well, for time being, it is under renovation which includes re-plating the copper rooftop of the halls of the shrine. 2020 will have a grand celebration for its 100th birthday. What a maximum number of people will retain are light green rooves, the output of copper oxidating over the years.

Source: businessinsider.com 
14. Omotesando aka Champs Elysees

The street that leads up to the Shrine is called Omotesando. It is said that it has a greater resemblance to Champs-Élysées in Paris or 5th Avenue in New York. The world “Omotesando” actually means, ‘the gateway to the pathway of the shrine.’

Source: similarworlds.com, Image: Flickr
15. Sake and Wine Offerings

It is interesting how on the sheltered and tranquil earthy track into the groves on the route to the shrine halls, you can observe vessels of sake on your right and kegs of wine on your left. Sake is composed of rice, a staple of Japan, and is known to be given by the sun kami, Amaterasu at the inception of what is now the present time. Rice and rice wine are two fundamental libations to “kami”. The casks of wine symbolize the modernization and westernization that Emperor Meiji succored to guide in Japan.

Source: theolympians.co, Gif: Giphy
16. The Story Behind Red Wine

Western clothes, treaties and wine were something that Emperor Meiji introduced to the people of Japan in the dead of the 19th century and the wake of the 20th century. Additionally, the Emperor suffered from diabetes and was recommended by the doctor to limit his sake intake and instead switch to red wine. As soon as it became a piece of news, the wineries of Burgandy in France immediately sent bottles of their most pleasant wines to the Emperor.

Source: businessinsider.com, Gif: Giphy
17. Inscribing Your Name

You can write your name and your wish for the future and for your loved ones on a copper plate that will be left behind to adorn the rooftop of the shrine. One added benefit of this will be that the JPY3,000 you paid for the copper plate will be donated towards the renovation of the shrine and how else can you find a better way to contribute?

Source: britannica.com, Image: Flickr
18. The Treasure House

The northern part of the shrine consists of the Meiji Jingu Treasure House. The house was constructed after a year of the opening of the shrine itself. It is a house to the personal belongings of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. In fact, it houses the carriage which was used to carry both the emperor and empress for their ride to the iris garden and to the official declaration of Meiji’s constitution in 1889.

Source: similarworlds.com, Image: Flickr
19. Iris Gardens

The designer behind the popular iris gardens is the emperor Meiji himself. What a creative eye, isn’t it?

Source: similarworlds.com, Image: Flickr
20. Too Young

Meiji Jingu is one of the youngest shrines in Japan. While all the other shrines are almost over a thousand years old, Meiji Shrine is yet to turn 100 in the year 2020.

Source: similarworlds.com
21. Paying Respect

It is one of the most common practices to pay respect during the entrance to the shrine because of its highly reputable nature of being a sacred place. Paying regards actually has a full-blown procedure on how to pay respect properly when one is in the shrine. It is compulsory to bow down once you enter the torii gate and to bow again while leaving it.

Source: traveljapan.com
22. Tribute At Temizuya

While entering the Temizuya, one ought to wash the left hand and then the right hand. Following this, pour some water into the left hand. Next, wash the mouth accompanied by the rinsing of the left hand again. Finally, clean the dipper itself by allowing the leftover water to flow down the handle. It is vital to regard that the dipper must straight away be in connection with the mouth and that money should not be tossed into the water.

Source: traveljapan.com, Image: Flickr
23. The Final Tribute

As you reach the shrine, it is necessary that you bow down twice and clap with your hands twice too before you make any wishes. Following this, it is necessary to bow down again as you leave the shrine building.

Source: trulytokyo.com, Image: Flickr
24. Outer Garden

There are many attractions that you can have a look at while in the shrine. It consists of the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery which is actually a building inspired by the European style and which contains about 40 paintings illustrating the life of Emperor Meiji. Another building is that of Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, a work of modern architecture which is inspired by the contour of a samurai helmet.

Source: businessinsider.com, Image: Flickr
25. Adult’s Day

The adults are celebrated here! Saijin no hi, or the Adult’s day is held at Meiji Jingu shrine on the second Monday in January every year. This day is reserved for the people who have just crossed their 20s and who wear expansive traditional dresses and pay a visit to the shrine. The pathway leading to the shrine is decorated with ice sculptures and there is a traditional performance of momoteshiki archery.

Source: britannica.com
26. Celebrating the Children

Not only adults, but children are also celebrated here. Shichi go san no hi or “seven five three day” is held on November 15 and celebrates the children of age three, five and seven wearing traditional kimonos to be commemorated at the shrine.

Source: trulytokyo.com, Image: Flickr