An Escape in the Heart of Tokyo: Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine pretty much sums up Tokyo. A pocket of serenity in the middle of a fast paced modern metropolis. Across the street is the trendy teenage hot spot of Takeshita Dori in Harajuku. Flanking one side of the Meiji Shrine grounds is the former Olympic Stadium and a little further down is the chaotic Shibuya Crossing. Hidden in a forest, it resembles some of the wonderful religious sites you will find in Kyoto.
The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the former Emperor Meiji and his wife who ruled from 1867 until his death in 1912. Construction began in 1915 and was dedicated in 1920. It wasn’t finished until 1926. It was rebuilt in 1958 after being destroyed in World War II.
You are greeted to at the entrance of the 170 acre grounds by a 40 foot tall torii gate. What follows is a long path covered with tall trees and gravel. The heart of the complex is where the various buildings are including the treasure house. It contains various personal effects of the emperor and his wife. There are several other halls and gardens to wander around.
The best part though is simply being able to take a break from the metropolis of Tokyo. There are approximately. 100,000 tress brought in from all over Japan within the grounds. The wind blows through the trees and gives anyone a sense of peace. The beautiful grounds have made it a popular wedding location. The mix of weddings parties, tourists, locals, and worshipers, all mesh together to enjoy the the closest example of a Kyoto Shrine you will find in Tokyo.
Visiting the Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine is easy to get to. It is on the main JR Yamanote Line, a short walk from Harajuku Station. It is open daily and admission to the grounds are free. There is a small charge for the treasure house and inner garden.