Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meiji Jingu - Emperor's Shrine

I'm still feeling proud about this accomplishment. Andrew and I could see Meiji Shrine from the observation deck (thus fulfilling the "old" part of that post) so we decided to forgo the trains and walk directly to it.

It immediately reminded me of Central Park in NY - while it's not the only park in Tokyo, it went from being completely urban on the outside to being a quiet forest on the inside. It was originally built in 1920 in memory of Emperor Meiji (great grandfather of Japan's current emperor) and Empress Shoken. The original was destroyed during WWII but was rebuilt in 1958. Of course, the entry way was marked with a Torii gate:

We took our time walking down a long path lined with trees - according to our guidebook,
the evergreen forest consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species that were donated from people all around the world:

Once we arrived at the inner sanctum of the shrine, we followed the typical cleansing ritual before entering:
This is the main gate of Meiji shrine that leads into a large inner courtyard:

From reading the shrine's brochure, you got a strong sense of the love and respect that the Japanese had for the emperor and empress, which extended into the public's efforts to build and rebuild the shrine. I could literally see the love in the ornate work that decorated the shrine's front entrance:

Once inside Meiji Shrine's inner courtyard, I took Andrew's picture outside of the shrine, as no photography is allowed inside it:

I also managed to capture a quick photo of Japanese visitors wearing traditional kimonos:
And the best thing ever, soon after we arrived, a procession made its way through the temple.

After watching them for a few seconds, we realized it was a wedding procession! Although the guidebook said that the temple was popular for weddings, they typically take place on weekends or holidays so we were incredibly lucky to witness this first hand.

It was heartwarming to hear the crowd gently clap (with happiness while quietly with respect to their surroundings) for the couple and they looked so happy while posing for pictures:

We left Shinjuku thinking that we had experienced a lot in a few hours, and although our feet were sore, we happily trudged back to the train station to catch our ride home.


spongeamy said...

le sigh. i've been loving all your posts from japan. mostly the food! :) so jealous. can't wait until i'm there myself!

bcallegra said...

Mom and Dad can't wait for your visit! I'm the jealous one, since you'll get to be here for a month. :)