Who was Meiji?Meiji Shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Dowager Shoken.
It was constructed after Emperor Meiji's death in 1912. Meiji was responsible for great social change in Japan. This included the abolition of the Samurai warrior class and the modernization of Japan. The shrine is constructed at the former site of an Iris garden the Emperor and Empress were fond of (the Iris garden remains to this day).
NatureThe grounds of the shrine span 175 acres of prime land at Yoyogi between Shinjuku and Shibuya.
The forest around the shrine is breathtaking. The trees in the forest were donated by every prefecture in Japan. Trees were also presented as gifts from numerous countries. There are around 400 species of tree in the forest.
Life at MeijiThere are 100s of shrines in Tokyo. They serve local areas (local shrines). Meiji is unique — it serves the entire city. People come from all over Tokyo for ceremonies, holidays, events and weddings at Meiji Shrine.
It's a well managed shrine that packs in as many imperial ceremonies, holidays, events, festivals, weddings and rituals as possible. Life at Meiji Shrine is a reflection of life in Tokyo.
Miyamairi is a ritual to celebrate a baby's first visit to a Shinto shrine.
Shichi-go-san (7-5-3) celebrates milestones in the lives of boys and girls.
Seijin no hi (coming of age day) celebrates another milestone — becoming an adult.
Meiji shrine is the most in-demand shrine in Tokyo for a traditional Shinto wedding.
Each year there are around a dozen Imperial and cultural events at Meiji Shrine. For example, it hosts a martial arts demonstration on Bunka no Hi (culture day) on November 3rd.
Imperial ceremonies such as this celebration of the 50th anniversary of Meiji Restoration also take place on a regular basis.
The most busy time of the year at Meiji Shrine is New Years. Locals line up for hours for their first shrine visit of the year (Hatsumode). Police are brought in to manage the massive crowds.
Meiji Shrine is also a major tourist attraction.
Locals come to the shrine to write prayers on Ema (small wooden plaques).
The shrine offers daily prayer services in mornings and afternoons. These are popular amongst Tokyo's older residents.
PracticalsMeiji Shrine is directly beside Yoyogi park.
There are numerous entrances to Meiji Shrine. One way to get there is to take JR Yamanote line train to Harajuku station. Turn right at the main exit of the station and walk 150 meters. The entrance will be on your right.
The hours of the shrine are generally 09:00 - 16:00. The hours are extended or reduced for the shrine's many events.
Shrines are places of worship. It's not appropriate to jog, walk your dog etc.. within the grounds of a shrine.