The Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) in Tokyo was built as a dedication to Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of modern Japan and his wife, Empress Shoken. I found this shinto shrine situated next to Harajuku station, a busy shopping area, with its 100000 trees and huge torii gates, oozing with tranquility. This was just what I was looking for before starting off my shopping extravaganza in Harajuku, Omotesando down Cat Street straight to Shibuya.
The shrine is a large wooden structure and was destroyed during World War II, whereafter it was quickly rebuilt. You can enter from the Harajuku (Yamanote Line) Station’s side or through the adjacent Yoyogi Park (Yoyogi Station side). The Shrine grounds of Meiji Jingu is spacious with many walking trails, offering a huge green area in a modern city to stroll around in and relax. It takes about ten minutes to walk to the shrine building from the North and South torii gates. There’s also the treasure house and temple garden to explore (requires a fee).
Since the shops in the area only opened either 10a.m. or 11a.m. I took the early train to explore the shrine and its grounds first. Riding the Ginza line from Asakusa to Omote-sando station and then changing to the Chiyoda line to Meiji-Jingumae station during rush hour, was not as bad as I imagined. From Meiji-Jingumae station its a short walk underground to the Harajuku Station exit with the torii gates marking the entrance to Meiji Jingu just behind it.
It’s easy to navigate around the forest paths and when I reached the shrine I was surprised at how big it was. I really didn’t expect it mainly because Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is used in most of the promotional material for Tokyo (as the touristic temple spot). Throughout Japan the great wooden structures has amazed me and Meiji Jingu did the same.
After strolling around the temple complex and finding my zen, I set off for some shopping and bargain hunting in the second-hand stores of Cat Street and Takeshita Street. If shopping is not your thing, why not combine your visit with a stroll through Yoyogi Park and the nearby Shinjuku Gardens? So much to see, so little time.
See also my Asakusa Guide