After exploring Harajuku and walking down Takeshita Street, I headed to Meiji Jingu, the shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken.
After exploring Harajuku and walking down Takeshita Street
, I headed to Meiji Jingu, the shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. The entrance to the shrine can easily be found right next to Harajuku Station.
The shrine is located in a large forest area, with a huge torii gate marking the entrance. There is a long main road you can walk down to see the actual shrine, and there is also a side path with a kept garden are and pond, where you must pay for entry. The shrine itself is free to visit though.
There are Torri gates at both entrances to the shrine, this one in Harajuku and one on the other side of the forest in Shinjuku. The shrine area is technically in Shibuya though.
The main path goes all the way through the forest to the Shrine from both entrances to the forest. Unless you feel like wandering and getting lost, once you make it to the shrine itself, it is probably best to take the path back the way you came.
I paid the 500 yen fee, which was for restoration and upkeep of the shrine, to enter this next area. I didn’t know the actual shrine wasn’t through here, but I’m glad I went anyway. By this point of my visit, it had started raining pretty hard, and I was without an umbrella. But there was plenty of tree cover, and I would have gotten just as wet from turning back as I did continuing on.
Near this pond was a small animal that I didn’t know what it was at the time. An older Japanese man pointed it out to me as he was throwing bits of food on the ground for it.
One of my friends looked it up afterwards and it ended up being a racoon dog, also known as a Tanuki. I always wondered what a Tanuki was since hearing the term from Super Mario Bros. 3 and now I have seen one in person.
The landscape around the pond was very well kept. There is a lot about Japan that I just think “looks cooler” than in the US and how their gardens and landscapes look is one of them. You’ll see a lot more photos like that when I get to the Kyoto part of my trip.
This well seemed to be the final part of the garden and the main attraction to pay the entrance fee. There was a line to see the well, and it is said to bring good luck. It really started to pour down rain while waiting to see the well, but a nice Japanese person shared their umbrella with me while waiting. (Sorry about the blurry photo; I took several but none of them turned out, possibly because of the rain)
After seeing the well, I went back to the main path and saw the actual shrine. There were a lot more people here than in the garden area.
In Japanese tradition, before going to the main shrine and praying, you go to this building to wash your hands and face from a fountain. You use a rod with a cup on the end to draw from the fountain.
I finally arrived at the actual shrine. By this point it had stopped raining, but the pavement was nearly flooded. There was what I believe was a wedding procession going through the shrine while I was there, but I didn’t take any photos as I wasn’t sure if that would be looked down upon.
I made my way out to the other entrance, which brings you out to Shinjuku on the opposite side of the forest. Exploring the area and seeing the shrine was a great experience, and I definitely think it is worth a visit while you’re in the area.