I don’t know about you, but I love Meiji Jingu. To me, Meiji Jingu is like a cool, oasis of calm in the heart of Tokyo. Tokyo is a wonderful place but, like any major city, the hustle and bustle can get a bit much sometimes. Meiji Jingu is a good place to escape to at such times because you can rest under the shade of the trees, listen to the birds, and catch your breath.
Even on a weekend, such as Sunday 17th April when I went there, Meiji Jingu never seems too crowded because of its sheer size. The shrine complex is housed in a huge park full of leafy tunnels created by tall trees. It’s cool, a little dark, and fairly calm. (I’m sure there are occasions when this is not true, such as New Year, but generally speaking…)
If you go there on a weekend, you might even be lucky enough to catch a traditional Japanese wedding. No one ever seems to mind if you take photos from a respectful distance.
You might also catch a glimpse of some “shrine maidens”:
Actually, I don’t think that’s their real name, but that’s what my friend calls them. Does anyone know what they’re really called?
Meiji Jingu is one of the few shrines I know in Japan which is so foreigner friendly that it not only has omamori meanings labelled in English, but it also has information about ema in English.
When you look at the ema hanging up you will see a lot written in languages other than Japanese, which I think is really wonderful.
You can buy ema at Meiji Jingu for 500 Yen. Then, you just take it to the area where the ema are hung, write your message, and hang it up. It’s a nice way to leave your mark in Japan, I think.
If you do go to Meiji Jingu, you might also want to check out the cafe, restaurant and souvenir shops in the middle. At first, it seemed strange to me to have a souvenir shop in the middle of a shrine, but I’ve actually grown to love the place. The restaurant is a little expensive, but I think the food is really good (and the menu is in English!). If you’re on a budget, the cafe is much more reasonable.
Once you’re done enjoying the calm oasis that is Meiji Jingu, why not exit in the direction of Yoyogi Park and Harajuku, as I did? More on that coming up soon! 😉