Entrance to Meiji Jingu Shrine
We left the Tower entrance of the hotel, and walked one block and crossed the river to get to the nearest subway station. We took the train to Omatesando station, the closest stop to our next destination, the Meiji Jingu Shrine. We mis-read the map when we got there, and walked several blocks in the wrong direction before realizing our mistake. We walked back to the station and asked a Japanese student for directions. He spoke no English, but we showed him our map and he pointed us in the right direction. "Arrigato" we told him- ("Thank You" in Japanese..we were getting used to saying that a lot!) We knew he had sent us the right way, because we started seeing landmarks that had been told to us by the hotel concierge. A few blocks more, and we found the shrine.
Entrance to the temple
Meiji Jingu is the Shinto shrine dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Emperor Shoken. Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912 and Empress Shoken in 1914. After their demise, people wished to commemorate their virtues and to venerate them forever, and so this shrine was constructed, and their souls were enshrined on November 1, 1920.
It consists of three areas: Naien, or the inner precinct, centered on the shrine buildings; Gaien, or the outer precinct, which includes the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery and sports facilities; and the Meiji Memorial Hall. These areas are covered by an evergreen forest of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established.
This 700,000 square-meter forest is visited by many people both as a spiritual home of the people and as a recreation and relaxation area center of Tokyo. The original buildings were destroyed by the bombings in WWII, and rebuilt in 1958.
the prayer tree
In the courtyard of the shrine was a "prayer tree", where you can purchase wooden boards, inscribe a prayer on them, and hang them on the rack around the tree. There were prayers there in many different languages, from all nationalities. Lee was tempted to put up a prayer for the Red Sox, then thought better of it! After the shrine, we explored the garden around it, which had a separate 500 yen entrance fee ( about $4 US ) It was a beautiful garden with a tea house, and a koi pond as well. There also was a trail around an iris garden, that was completely covered in blue netting, raised about 4 feet off the ground. To keep birds out, maybe? I bet it looks great when the iris are in bloom! The park and garden was very well maintained...I didn't see a leaf out of place. It was also not crowded, there were only a few other visitors there. (The intermittant rain might have had something to do with that) We spent a few hours between the garden and the shrine, then headed back to the subway station. On to the next stop!