The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan. He was born in 1852 and ascended the throne in 1867 at the height of the Meiji Restoration when Japan’s feudal age came to an end and the emperor regained power. The shrine and the adjoining Yoyogi Park are adjacent to bustling Harajuku Station, forming a large wooded area within the densely populated city. The sprawling sanctuary offers paths that are ideal for a relaxing walk. The shrine was completed in 1920. It was destroyed during the Second World War but rebuilt shortly thereafter.
The main complex of the shrine buildings is a ten-minute walk from the southern and northern entrance. The Entrance to the sanctuary is marked by a huge Torii. Afterward, the hustle and bustle of the city are replaced by a quiet forest. The approximately 100,000 trees that make up the forest of Meiji Jingu were planted during the construction of the shrine and donated by regions throughout the country. Visitors to the shrine can take part in typical Shinto activities, such as offering gifts in the main hall, buying amulets, or writing a wish on an Ema.
At the northern end of the shrine area, visitors come across the Meiji Jingu Treasure House, which was built a year after the shrine opened. The Treasure House displays many interesting personal belongings of the Emperor and the Empress, including the carriage that the Emperor rode in 1889 for the formal explanation of the Meiji Constitution.
A large part of the southern part of the sanctuary is occupied by the Inner Garden. Especially popular is the garden in mid-June when the iris flowers. A small fountain in the garden, Kiyomasa’s Well, is named after a military commander who dug it 400 years ago. The fountain was visited by Emperor and Empress during their lifetime and has become a popular spiritual ‘powerpoint’.