Nowadays many foreign tourists flock to see Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Japan. Especially the conveniently located Meiji Shrine in Tokyo has for a long time been a popular tourist spot. Here are five things you should know before visiting Meiji Shrine.
(The following article contains information on rituals and practices that include components based on Japan’s traditional religions (such as Buddhism and Shinto). This content is presented solely for informational purposes; these practices are not enforced in these facilities in any way.)
1. Find out about seasonal events
Various old and traditional ceremonies are held at Meiji Shrine each month. However, most of these ceremonies only last a day, so you will want to check the schedule carefully. A once-in-a-lifetime experience may be in store.
2. Visit spiritual power spots
The entire shrine itself is a power spot, but in fact there are also many power spots inside it. For instance, the massive torii gate marking the shrine grounds provides good luck in finding a spouse, whereas the wishing well of Kiyomasa drives away bad luck. There are also other places where you can pray for conjugal happiness, and in the Iris Garden you can feel negative ions. Each place has a meaning behind, so it is useful to study a bit before visiting.
3. Learn the manners before visiting
Meiji Shrine is a place of formality, so proper behavior is very important. Even though nowadays many Japanese people are not too strict about etiquette, acting inappropriately at a shrine may actually result in bad luck, so it is advisable to learn the basic manners before visiting. Be especially careful not to mix up Shinto and Buddhist manners of worship.
4. The sacred forest
Meiji Shrine is located in the heart of a sacred forest that surrounds the shrine and the path approaching it from both sides. This forest was in fact created by humans, and it serves as a precious habitat for flora and fauna in the big city. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter a raccoon dog, a falcon or other rare animals.
5. Check the souvenirs
Since you have come all the way to visit Meiji Shrine, why not buy a couple of souvenirs before you go? You can buy them at the Mori rest area. Monaka cakes with the imprint of the Imperial chrysanthemum crest are particularly famous, but green tea and manju buns are also considered auspicious and are therefore popular. The selection also includes a wide array of traditional hand-made objects and artwork that exude Japanese harmony, loved by visitors from abroad.
It may well be that some people haven’t visited Meiji Shrine because they find it all too famous. Likewise, many people have probably visited without having any background knowledge. However, there is a lot to see inside the shrine grounds. In addition to the aforementioned points, collecting shuin seal stamps has become a popular hobby especially among women. If you are feeling intrigued but have not had the chance to try it out, Meiji Shrine is a good place to start. Whether it’s your first time or you have already visited but did not stay long, why not visit Meiji Shrine with a purpose? When you visit, keep your heart humble and remember the basic rules and manners.
This post is also available in: Japanese