Sunday, June 9, 2013

Meiji Jingu Shinto Shrine - 8 things you should know before visiting

Meiji Jingu is one of the most famous shrines in Tokyo, Japan.  It was established in 1920 by the people who donated 100,000 trees from all over Japan and overseas. Now the shrine is covered by a big forest, and you can feel spirits in here.

I write 8 interesting things you should know before visiting. You will see why I wrote 8 later.

CHECK 1 - Enshrined deities are souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, who passed away in 1912 and 1914. At that time, Emperor was just like God for Japanese people. Meiji Jingu is comparatively new shrine.

CHECK 2 - The precinct's temperature of the shrine is 3 degree Celsius below compared to outside metro area in Tokyo because it is covered by a big forest.  The forest is artificial and created by donated trees.  The forest has 245 species of trees, which is unusual for a forest.  
CHECK 3 - The number of visitors to the shrine is about 3,500,000 per year, and 1,200,000 people of them are foreign visitors. Wow, 1 of 3 people are from overseas!
CHECK 4 - after a while you walk in the shrine, you can see Sake (rice wine) barrels and grape wine barrels donated. At normal shrines, you do not see grape wine barrels even though Sake is sacred drink in Japan. In Meiji period, Japan finally has opened the door to overseas and started to learn Western cultures.  Emperor Meiji also tried western style attire and hair. Especially he loved grape wine, and it is said that he passed away due to diabetes. 

CHECK 5 - Because center of the approach is for the divine sprits' passage, try to walk on the left side of the approach to the main hall.

CHECK 6 - The corner of the approach to the mail hall is not 90 degree, but 88 degree angle because 8 is lucky number in Japan when we write in Chinese character, the shape of 8 is auspicious.

CHECK 7 - The second shrine gateway of Meiji Jingu is the biggest wooden gateway in Japan.  The material wood used is Japanese cypress, 1,500 year old and brought from Taiwan. You can still smell the scent of wood especially in a rainy day.

CHECK 8 - The heart shape ♥ you can find of shrine's structure is not heart, it is actually the eyes of wild boars. They do not like fires, and their eyes can protect wooden shrines from fires... not sure if they are really heart shape?? But try to find hearts in the shrine!



I hope you can find something new about Meiji Jingu?
Experience Japan!


  1. Wow. I used to go to Meiji Jingu all the time when I lived in Tokyo but I didn't know all of this information. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dear Mandy, thank you for your comment! I am Japanese but I did find the facts just recently as well. Please come back to Japan again :)