Know About The Most Visited Religious Shrine in The World
Meiji Shrine, Tokyo is the planet’s most visited religious shrine with a staggering 300 million worshippers making their way here. This fascinating shrine that has captured the attention of both travelers and devotees is dedicated to the spirits of Japan’s Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Reconstructed after the Second World War destruction, the shrine was originally built in 1920, a few years after the death of the emperor and empress. The main shrine structures are accessible only after a ten-minute walk from the exquisite Torri entrance gate close to Harajuku Station. Meiji Shrine’s complex has a stunningly endowed park (200 acres), housing 100,000 trees (1,500-year-old Cypress) and is a sanctuary for nature lovers, seeking to soak in the spiritual calm of a religious retreat. Visitors can enjoy relaxed strolls on the complex’s walking paths. In June, the Iris flower garden (which Queen Shoken used to frequently visit to see her favorite flowers) can be seen in full bloom.
History of Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
The Japanese Diet, after the death of Emperor Meiji, passed a resolution to commemorate the death of their emperor by building a shrine dedicated to him. For that purpose, the Iris garden in Tokyo where the family of emperor lived was chosen as Building’s location. The constructed started soon after in the year 1915 under the supervision of Ito Chuta. The shrine was designed in the most traditional ways with Nagare-zukuri style, using Japanese Cypress and Copper as the primary ingredients. The enthusiasm surrounding the building of this shrine was huge and celebrated as a national project with youths from all parts of the country offering voluntary service and got completed and dedicated in the year 1920. By the year 1946, it was officially designated as one of the Kanpei-Taisha, a government-supported shrine. But the fate of the building was bad as the original structure was bombed during the Tokyo Air raids of World War II and the present building is a replica of the same which was completed by a fund raised by the public and completed in the year 1958. It is frequently visited by the foreign diplomats and government as one of the places to show reverence to Emperor Meiji.
Special Prayer at Meiji Shrine
The most interesting local prayer traditions comprise writing your wishes on little pieces of colorful paper and sticking them on the prayer wall. You can also do what the local worshippers do as a prayer ritual – bowing their head twice, clasping their hands twice and then bowing once more after offering some yen in the huge offering box. Make sure to stop at the cleansing communal tank to wash your hands and mouth before offering prayers.
Casting a Shadow over Life of Emperor Meiji
The Outer Garden nestles a Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, which is striking European structure housing 40 ingenious paintings, presenting Emperor Meiji’s life. There’s also a Samurai helmet shaped gymnasium here that depicts Japan’s modern architectural elegance On Sunday mornings, you’re most likely to spot elaborate and traditional Japanese wedding procession walking through the courtyard led by Shinto priests. While walking through the path to reach the shrine, visitors can spot huge sake and wine barrels on either side, which have been donated by the Meiji Jingu National Sake Brewers Association and the French region of Bourgogne respectively.
(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)