I am back! Sorry dear Jetsetters, I haven’t forgotten you. Welcome back to part 2 of my Japan series. Let’s get back to business.
Starting off from the last part of My Visit to Tokyo, Japan: Part 1, I had finally visited the famous Shibuya Crosswalk and experienced the local Japanese way of crossing the street without bumping into people. After crossing more than once, I could say that I have mastered the non-touristy walk and know to walk straight ahead without ANY hesitation. It proves to be right when I attempted to walk in a busy train station.
The next day was going to be something completely different from the hustle and bustle of the streets of urban Tokyo. Part 2 of my trip to Tokyo was a visit to a historical landmark of Japan: a visit to the Meiji Shrine. A little background information according to Japan-Guide.com, the shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. It was built in 1920 after the death of Emperor Meiji.
First stop was the Torii Gate that approaches the shrine. Before even entering the forest leading to the shrine there are a couple Japanese customs to follow. Once visitors approach the gate, they must bow before entering and bow again when exiting. After a couple steps in there are beautifully decorated sake barrels. The sake barrels represent the gathering of gods and people together and are always placed before a Shinto shrine. (Picture left)
Once entering the shrine, there are signs that explain the specific steps visitors need to follow before making your wish. First the visitor must clean their hands and mouth with the basin in the main yard. Because the shrine is a place of worship cleansing is done out of respect for the Shinto religion.
The main yard gives the visitor a feeling of serene and peace. The Meiji Shrine is also used to hold traditional Shinto weddings where the bride and groom wear kimonos. Upon our visit, it so happened to be the right timing when our group passed by newlyweds!
Now, if you could imagine what I saw next, I would paint it as the definition of zen and harmony. At the main yard and opening of the Meiji Shrine Temple, I couldn’t help but encapsulate the feeling of peace by taking a picture (below). It was time to make a wish but not just a willy-nilly wish, there are steps to follow for a wish to come true according to Japanese tradition. The steps to a successful wish would be getting your 1 Yen, throwing it into the offertory box, bow to your lowest (twice), clap twice, make your wish then bow again. A very low bow represents the utmost respect to the Shinto religion.
In the picture above, the middle building is where the wishes are made but if you take a closer look to the right, where the people are gathered this is where you can leave a prayer for a loved one. After making a wish and leaving a prayer, there is a little gift shop area adjacent to the main yard where visitors can buy charms that will keep any bad spirits away. Charms protecting against evil is the charm I used up until this day, stowed away in my wallet.
As cheesy as it sounds, my wishes came true. I made the wish to travel and see more of the world and I’ve been blessed to see more of it after making my wish at the Meiji Shrine.
Personally, from my experience, I would visit the shrine again when I visit Tokyo in the future. I have learned a lot about Japanese traditions from my one trip and experienced the beauty of Japanese culture.
Thanks for reading and Stay tuned for Part 3!
Jetset with Gisele.✌🏼