Meiji Jingu is located in technologically advanced Tokyo and only a few minutes from the quirky streets of Harajuku. This famous Shinto shrine is hidden among a thickly forested area, creating an atmosphere of tranquility in the heart of Japan's bustling metropolis. Meiji Jingu is one of the most popular shrines in Tokyo and is visited by millions of people every year. The shrine’s daily ceremonies, incredible architecture, and scenic grounds make it a memorable and rejuvenating destination for tourists and Shinto practitioners alike.
The relatively recent shrine was built in 1920 to commemorate Japan’s first modern emperor and empress, Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. In 1867, Emperor Meiji ascended to the throne, effectively marking the end of Japan’s feudal era and the beginning of the Meiji Period. During his rule, Emperor Meiji guided Japan into a more modern and westernized way of life and revamped international relations by building connections with other countries. The shrine was tragically destroyed by 1945 bombings, but was quickly rebuilt in 1958 thanks to public donations.
Meiji Jingu and its surrounding forest stand as a beacon of the Shinto faith, creating an atmosphere of harmony between first-time guests, practitioners, nature, and the past. Given its location in Tokyo, the easily accessible shrine is a common destination for visitors. Meiji Jingu is open every day from sunrise to sunset and has no admission fee.
The shrine has one southern entrance and two northern, all of which are marked by towering torii gates. When visitors pass under the gates, which mark the separation between the sacred and secular world, it is customary to bow. The path to the shrine’s main complex is lined by a lush forest composed of over 100,000 trees and a variety of plant species, many of which were donated to the area from all over Japan. The densely wooded area effectively blocks out the sights and sounds of Tokyo, enveloping visitors in an environment of zen where they can clear their minds as they walk to the main shrine entrance. Once visitors step across the threshold onto the main grounds, they can leave their everyday worries behind and immerse themselves in the shrine’s architectural beauty and Shinto practices.
Standing at 12 meters tall and 17.1 meters wide, Ootorii is the largest wooden myojin-style torii in Japan. The original gate was destroyed by lightning in 1966, but was reconstructed by 1975 with a Japanese cypress that was more than 1,000 years old as the building material. The gate’s sheer size is breathtaking and speaks volumes to the sacredness of the shrine. For many visitors, Ootorii will be the second torii gate they walk through during their journey to the main shrine grounds.
The Main Hall or Honden is Meiji Jingu’s most impressive and sacred building; it is where the kami deities are enshrined. After guests pass under Minami Shinmon, which is the gate to the main complex and one of the shrine’s few original structures, they are greeted by a massive wooden building. The Main Hall is built in the nagare zukuri architectural style with one defining characteristic being its asymmetrical roof, which is longer in the front than the back to shelter the front steps. The Honden is constructed from Japanese cypress trees and has copper roofs, creating a humble presence that is in harmony with the natural environment. The Main Hall is home to numerous Shinto rituals and prayers and includes the Shinto prayer recital hall, inner shrine hall, and outer shrine hall. The Honden is a defining feature of the shrine and a must see given its traditional architecture and integration into the daily Shinto practices.
One of the most serene areas of the shrine is the Inner Garden, which is located on the southern end of the grounds and has a 500 JPY admission fee. The garden, which is said to have been commissioned by Emperor Meiji for his wife, is a stunning scene that shines in all seasons with artfully crafted greenery, ponds, and even a traditional tea house. One of the most popular times to visit the Inner Garden is in June when the area’s abundance of purple irises are in full bloom. Another notable spot is Kiyomasa’s Well, which is named after the military commander who dug it. People frequent this area since the well is considered a “power spot” that gives off positive energy. [Tea House Photo: Sean Marshall / CC BY-NC 2.0]
The Treasure House, located on the northernmost end of the shrine grounds, houses historical artifacts and personal belongings of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. [Photo: David Manuel / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
For an immersive experience, guests can learn about the Shinto religion by partaking in traditional practices, such as making offerings and praying at the main hall, writing wishes on ema amulets, and purchasing fortunes or protective charms. When visitors enter the main shrine complex they can also visit the Temizusha, to wash your hands and cleanse mouths. The shrine is foreigner-friendly with English signage to aid first-time practitioners in their spiritual journeys.
Meiji Jingu hosts numerous festivals and events year-round. The shrine starts the year with the New Year’s Day Ceremony or Saitan-sai and during the first few days of the year the shrine is flooded with over three million people praying for good fortune. Other notable festivals are the Spring Grand Festival or Sukeishatai-sai on May 2nd and 3rd; National Foundation Day Festival or Kigen-sai on February 11th; and Autumn Grand Festival on November 3rd, which celebrates Emperor Meiji’s birthday. During these festivals the shrine comes to life with traditional music, dance, and theater performances. Apart from the grand festivals, Meiji Jingu also performs daily rituals, such as Nikku-sai, which is a daily food offering to the kami that occurs from 8:00 to 14:00. The shrine is also a popular place for traditional Shinto weddings, and if visitors are lucky, they may catch a glimpse of the procession. With the shrine’s busy schedule, visitors can witness Shinto events year-round.
Recently constructed in October of 2019, Meiji Jingu Museum is regarded for its elegant design by famous architect Kuma Kengo. The open floorplan surrounded by peaceful forest creates an elevated viewing experience. The museum contains items used or associated with the emperor and empress, such as writing utensils, a desk, and even an opulent carriage that the emperor rode. Admission to the museum costs 1,000 JPY.
Meiji Jingu’s location in Tokyo makes it easily accessible via public transportation and is minutes away from a number of train stations by foot. Please note that the travel times below are calculated using the shrine entrance as the endpoint. It will take about another 10 minutes for visitors to reach the main shrine grounds.
The shrine is a 1-minute walk from either Harajuku Station on JR Yamanote Line or Meiji-jingumae Station on Tokyo Metro Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Lines.
Other nearby stations:
Sangubashi Station on Odakyu Line: 3-minute walk
Yoyogi Station on JR Yamanote Line, JR Chūō Line, Sōbu Line, and Toei Oedo Line: 5-minute walk
Kita-Sando Station on Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line: 5-minute walk
They are called ema and they are small wooden tablets used by worshippers to write down their prayers or wishes. The tablets are left in a designated area at the shrine, a traditional way of sending their prayers to the gods. Have you made your wish already?
Meiji Jingu is an impressive shrine constructed in honor of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken who ruled Japan during the early 20th century. Emperor Meiji was the first ruler of modern Japan and helped end Japan's feudal era. This move helped to westernize and modernize Japan to make it into the world power that it is today.
The Inner Gardens of Meiji Jingu are a large, natural area connected to the famous shrine. The gardens include a large pond filled with colorful koi, winding forested paths, and an iris garden that blooms brilliantly every June. Also take a visit to Kiyomasa's Well, a famous "power spot" that attracts visitors seeking positive and lucky energy.
Enjoy a stroll through Meiji Shrine and visit the bonsai and suiseki exhibition which happens every year in June. Bonsai is a hobby enjoyed by many people that has been practiced in Japan for over a thousand years. Take a break in the shade and contemplate bonsai at its best!
Located right next to Shinjuku Chuo Park, THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku is a modern hotel with an exceptional design and easy access to the nearby Shinjuku train station and the Meiji Shrine. The 14-story hotel building was renovated and reopened in August 2018 as THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku . The western-style rooms offer a park view on the top floor as well as a newly opened terrace suite. The spacious atrium design offers a relaxed atmosphere and connects the restaurant, bar, lounge and lobby with one another. One of the highlights of THE KNOT is the delicious dishes. There are six areas in which food and drinks are offered. From the grill area to high-quality black tea and fresh bread, everything is on offer.
With Koenji being a "creatives town" it's no surprise that BnA Hotel opened there in 2016 and has had, subsequently, an incredible impact on the local community. BnA (Bed and Art) has other spaces dotted about Tokyo and Kyoto but the Koenji edition is possibly more immersive as the concept is "stay in an artwork." In collaboration with local artists the BnA has created an impressive multi-storey art experiment for art lovers and creatives with a desire to inhabit art. The first floor acts as a front desk and bar which comes alive at night with events and selected DJs. It also hosts Masu Masu onigiri cafe with artists being asked to come and exchange artwork with each other in a gesture which reflects the true spirit of Koenji. With two "living art" twin rooms taking up the second and third floors designed by a seasonal rotation of local artists, guests can engage with and inhabit their art rooms. BnA Koenji also plays host to a rooftop lounge and a basement space which is used for artists residencies where their work is shown to the public and DJ booth and streaming equipment for live performances. With live painting events and an eclectic variety of regular events the BnA Hotel becomes, itself, a living canvas. The BnA believes that it's a machigata hotel meaning that guests should (and encouraged) to interact with Koenji. Use the public sentos, eat in the local restaurants that surround the hotel and buy locally from the multitude of shops, market stalls, bars and cafes which make up the fabric of Koenji. Feted by international press such as The Guardian, BnA acts as a creative network with the concept of serendipity being discussed as the bar becomes an ad hoc meeting place where collaborations and friendships between artists and locals are born. The BnA was also instrumental in a street art festival named MCP (Mural City Project) which was supported by Suginami Ward. MCP was incredibly ambitious and truly communal with the desire to transform and coalesce the community through the creation of public murals. The BnA, Koenji and Suginami spearheaded a public art movement which should be commended and replicated throughout Tokyo.
Just minutes from Shinagawa Station, the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa is surrounded by lush greenery in the Takanawa area, with rooms offering balcony views of the nearby gardens and surrounding Tokyo cityscape. This urban resort features convention facilities like the Hiten banquet hall, international Convention Center Pamir, as well as a wide variety of Japanese, Chinese and Western restaurants.
There is a restaurant right in front of the Meguro station where you can eat your own fish. All kinds of Japanese dishes and fresh seafood are also served. In some pools inside the restaurant you can catch your own fish with a fishing rod and net and then let the staff know which table it should be brought to. You can watch the fish being prepared in the kitchen and let you know in advance how the fish should be prepared: whether as sashimi, grilled, boiled, deep-fried (with tempura) or as sushi. If you don't manage to catch your own fish, then you can of course order a fish from the menu. However, the price is much lower if you want to have your own catch cooked .
Situated a few minutes stroll from the north exit of JR Koenji Station, Clouds Art + Coffee is a simple affair reflecting the owners' passion for, well, art and coffee. Very chic and sparse, the space is compact with a fine selection of coffee from all over the world such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia and Brazil which makes it the perfect spot for Tokyo's legion of coffee addicts. The owners curate a healthy mix of artwork from local and international artists and the rotational exhibition system means that regular customers have the opportunity to see, firsthand, the best and most intriguing art from Koenji's thriving art community. There's no censorship at Clouds Art + Coffee and artists are encouraged to represent themselves and their work in a free manner and this means, essentially, that customers can view an eclectic and liberating amount of art hand in hand with some of the finest coffee in Koenji and Tokyo as a whole. Clouds Art + Coffee is, ostensibly, a hub and tryst for art and coffee lovers who come from far and wide to sample international coffee made from the finest beans and art from emerging and established artists.
In the Highball Bar Sunny Side 1923 in Gotanda Shinagawa, guests enjoy freshly tapped beers and, in addition to a dinner menu, of course, highballs are offered. These consist of a basic spirit and, for example, soda water or ginger ale. They can also contain other ingredients and are extremely popular in Japan. The menu is also available in English, so that even foreign-speaking visitors will have no problems enjoying a relaxing evening. The bar offers 26 seats and 30 standing places and children are also welcome. The bar also offers a very special bonus with its own room for small private groups. Users of Japanese mobile phone networks are given the opportunity to use high-speed WiFi from the providers Softbank, NTT Docomo or AU.
As one of the largest green spaces in Tokyo, Yoyogi Park is a magnet for Tokyo residents who want to enjoy the sun and nature or who would like to attend one of the many festivals that take place in the park all year round. Although Yoyogi Park has relatively few cherry trees compared to other parks in Tokyo, it is a beautiful vantage point for the cherry blossom in spring. He is also known for his ginko trees, which turn gold in autumn. Before the park became a city park in 1967, the area was the site of the Olympic Village for the 1964 Olympic Games. Yoyogi Park is right next to the Meiji Shrine.
With easy access from Harajuku Station, ‘With Harajuku’ is the premier shopping and residency space for the glamourous fashion Mecca. At With Harajuku, residents can be an active part of the quickly changing trends of Tokyo. In addition to the living area, visitors to the area can take advantage of With Harajuku’s great shopping and dining offerings, including a new Ikea.
The Tōgō Shrine was established in 1940 and dedicated to Gensui The Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō shortly after his death. This shrine was destroyed by the Bombing of Tokyo, but was rebuilt in 1964. It is located in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. There, The Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō is celebrated as a shinto kami. [Wikipedia]