It is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken who ruled Japan in the late 19th century when it began to open to the West. After the death of the Emperor in 1912 and then that of the Empress just two years later, the people decided to commemorate them by planting 100,000 trees from across Japan – a national project was undertaken over the course of many years by community groups. The ground’s iris garden is located at a site where Emperor Meiji and his wife were known to visit.
The shrine was established on November 1, 1920, and the grounds were completed in 1926. However, the original shrine was destroyed during the air raids of World War II. The structure that stands there today was completed in 1958, the result of public fund-raising.
Today people enter the 200-acre park to offer prayers, to tie wishes onto the prayer wall, to toss yen into the offering box and to attend weddings.
Unique Things to See and Do in/near Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Tie a wish to the prayer wall at the main shrine
- Explore the Treasure Museum where items used by Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken are exhibited
- Wander through the picturesque iris gardens, designed by the Emperor for his wife
- Discover endangered plants and animals among the trees of the forest
Tips on Etiquette at Meiji Jingu
Visitors to Meiji Jingu should be respectful and there are a number of points of etiquette that you should adhere to during your visit to the Shrine.
For example, when you arrive at one of the shrine archways called a Torii, you should bow once when entering and bow once when leaving. When you come across one of the water troughs know as a Temizuya, you should use the ladle to first rinse your left hand and then your right before pouring water into your left hand and using it to rinse you mouth. Then you must rinse your left hand again, before finally rinsing the ladle, then allowing the remaining water to run down its handle. Be sure not to touch the ladle directly with your lips, and don’t be tempted to throw coins into the water.
At the main shrine, you’ll come across an offertory box – feel free to contribute some coins. Then bow twice, clap your hands twice and then make a wish if you so desire before bowing one final time.
Don’t be tempted to take photographs or videos inside the buildings of the main shrine, although you are allowed to do so in outside areas. You should only eat, drink and smoke in the specially designated areas.
Getting to Meiji Jingu Shrine
The easiest way to get to the shrine is by subway. The entrance is located just steps from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line or Meiji-jingumae Station on the Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Subway Lines.
Did you know…?
The Emperor and Empress are not actually buried on the grounds of the Shrine but have been laid to rest at the Momoyama Imperial Mausoleum in Kyoto.
Did you ALSO know…?
The Meiji Jingu Sukeikai, or ”Worshippers’ Association”, was created in 1946 and now has 150,000 members. Its mission is to revere deities and ancestors, respect the Imperial Family, and pray for world peace.
Ready to plan your visit to Tokyo? Check out these popular guides and trips.