Japan Memories #3: First Shinto Shrine

Travel Date : 25th March (Sun)

Meji Shinto Shrine is Japan’s most famous shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his consort.

// We travelled by public transport all by ourselves for our 7 days trip in Tokyo, mapping out our own itinerary for things we wanted to see. This was the second time we did an overseas trip this way. The first time was for Hong Kong. We love this feeling so much that we started planning all our future travels by ourselves without using a travel agency.

Harajuku

Cat: 

Today is supposed to be our first venture into a place of interest.

We had our breakfast at a shop near the hotel in Kanda. It was the cheapest we could find at 410 yen and 520 yen for Soba and Oyako don respectively.

JapanMemories_02MorningBreakfast

JapanMemories_02BreakfastKatsu

Alas, it started raining very early in the morning and somewhat dampened our mood. The station transfer was a bit confusing at first but we got the hang of it and it became a smooth ride. It was pouring when we arrived at Harajuku Station, so we had to share the small umbrella we brought.

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Inside the Train Station
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Interestingly, there is food sold inside the station!

We were hoping to see the “Harajuku Girls” when we planned this but the bad weather meant there were only few people walking around. Disappointed.

From a brochure: Harajuku Girls: Young girls who are wearing bizarre make-up, shoes, clothes and accessories. On weekends, wearing a bewildering array of clothes, they come from all over the country and gather in Harajuku. Reminiscent of ‘punk’ fashion it is way over the top – some of them seem to be throw backs to the roasing 20’s look while others are made-up and dressed so eclectic as to defy description. The visitor who wants to get an eye-full of a fashion show unique in the world needs only get off at the JR station in Harajuku!

We gave up the itinerary to go to Togo Shrine since it was raining. Thus, we stayed longer at Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park.

Meiji Shinto Shrine & Yoyogi Park

It was our first visit to a Shinto shrine and I absolutely love the architecture. We always see them in anime and photographs and finally, we get to see one in real life. I was excited and we took a lot of photographs. It was a huge place.

Walking inside the iconic "Torii" Gate found at entrance of Shinto Shrines
Walking inside the iconic “Torii” Gate found at entrance of Shinto Shrines

JapanMemories_02MeijiShrineOutsideWall

Vin:

We were expecting a good cool weather to take a nice morning stroll in Yoyogi Park, and so were very disappointed when the skies turned against us. Bringing only one umbrella, we soon realised the disadvantage; unable to take photos for one another, unless there is some shelter.

At some point, we were shivering cold, with each breath out in mist! Our pants were also soaked wet and it sure was very uncomfortable.

The shrine was a fun experience and we visited a souvenir shop too. We saw a glass or some transparent material containing a real cherry blossom, but did not buy it as we thought we could easily find it at other places (which unfortunately, never happen). Nevertheless, Meiji Shrine was the first shinto shrine we visited, so our memories of it were very deep.

JapanMemories_02MeijiShrineUs
Got a visitor to take a photo for us
JapanMemories_02MeijiShrineInsideCompound
Huge spacious and clean compound. Even the trees were nicely trimmed.

JapanMemories_02MeijiShrineDipper

Before entering the shrine, it is customary to cleanse ourselves. Even though we are not of their religion, we thought to experience it too. However, do not make the mistake of drinking from the dipper directly! (Well, Vin tried a bit…until we saw this notice…haha) You are supposed to rinse your mouth with water poured onto the palm of your hand and even rinse the dipper after that.

JapanMemories_02MeijiShrineWishesWall

JapanMemories_02MeijiShrineWishesClose

Nice to see wishing plaques from visitors, praying for good luck and other things in their lives. For the close-up, look at all the different languages on the plaques showing their wishes! This shows that Meiji Shrine is very popular with tourists from all over the world. There’s Chinese, Korean, European language, English and Japanese. The one in Japanese on the right side of the photograph above, is someone praying that he/she would pass the University exam! We were happy to admire and didn’t write on one though.

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The reason we love Meiji Shrine was due to the architecture and how iconic a ‘shrine’ is in the Japanese culture. We often read about it in Japanese comics and many stories would say about high school students coming here to pray for their entrance exam (It is extremely stressful to get a place in a good University).

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There was a wedding going on. A Japanese couple was getting married on a heavy rainy day…

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The beautiful Yoyogi Park on a rainy day. If only it wasn’t raining, we would have walked and explored more…What you see here is only a small portion of it from the Torii to the Shrine. The actual area is huge.

JapanMemories_02MeijiShrineWalkback

Souvenir:

At the souvenir shop. we bought ‘Hello Kitty’ keychains and a Japanese doll made with paper.

Lunch:

We searched around for restaurants to eat lunch but none suit our tastes. Finally, we saw this Hong Kong cuisine and took two set meals. Food is not cheap but taste was alright. (Vin: Everywhere else, shops were selling curry rice, which we didn’t want to try so soon again)

Our Proposed Itinerary:

(Morning to Afternoon)

  • To Harajuku Station

Kanda Station (5mins), take JR Sobu Chuo Line to Shinjuku Station (12 mins), walk to JR Yamanote Line (6 mins), transfer to Harajuku Station (4 min) and exit the South Exit (27 mins)

  • Sight-seeing at Meji Shrine and Yoyogi Park for 1.5 hrs.
  • Walk along Takeshita Dori to Togo Shrine (Antique Flea Market) didn’t do this as it was raining

Go through North Exit from Harajuku Station and walk north

  • Lunch
  • Walk back to Harajuku Station
  • Travel to Tokyo Big Sight for the International Tokyo Anime Fair.

Take JR Yamanote Line to Osaki Station (12min), Transfer to Rinkai Line (9min), Take the Rinkai Line to Kokusai – Tenjijio Station (13min), Walk to Tokyo Big Sight (7min) – 41 mins.

  • International Tokyo Anime Fair

(This entry is from our Travel Scrapbook of Japan in 2007)

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