Meiji Jingu

Japan, Tokyo, Shibuya, Yoyogikamizonocho, 1−1 Japan, Tokyo, Shibuya, Yoyogikamizonocho, 1−1
Meiji Jingu. Shibuya, Japan

the Shinto shrine of Emperor Meiji, great granddad of the current emperor, Akihito. You might get a bit of a surprise when you turn up as, despite being slap-bang in the middle of the biggest city in the world, the shrine is a forest made up of 120,000 trees!

You could get lost in there and think you were miles from civilization. In its inner garden is a spring with magic powers – if you drink the water it makes you powerful – or so the Shinto priests claim. Right in the middle of the forest you’ll find the inner shrine, where you can make your offering to Meiji. First ring the giant bell to get his attention, then toss a coin into the box. Finally bow twice, clap your hands, then bow once more.

If you hang around for half an hour or so on a weekend day you are almost certain to see a wedding procession making its way through the shrine. First comes the priest and his assistant, followed by two maidens, then the bride and groom, both in kimonos and sheltered beneath a giant parasol. Finally all the guests will parade along behind them. If you don’t see any weddings you must have chosen a day that’s inauspicious in the Shinto calendar – better luck next time.

Access: Harajuku station on the Yamanote line.

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