Meiji Jingu is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, and is made up of the inner gardens which hold the shrine itself, the outer gardens with the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, and the Meiji Kinnenkan.
Main ShrineMeiji Jingu Forest - Festival of Art
Meiji Jingu is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
The man-made “Eternal Forest” surrounding the shrine covers an area of approximately 700,000 square meters, and was planted with around 100,000 trees brought from all around Japan when the shrine was being constructed.
After Emperor Meiji passed in 1912, and Empress Shoken in 1914, there was a strong desire among the people of Japan that their spirits should be revered for eternity, and so the shrine was constructed in their honor. Since then it has been a place of prayer for the prosperity of the imperial household and Japan, and peace around the world.
At New Year, Meiji Jingu is crowded with visitors who come to offer their prayers for the coming year, but ordinarily the majestic forest looks over people’s prayers in quiet solemnity. Festivals and rites are held throughout the year at the shrine, and during the large festivals in spring and autumn the grounds are bustling with people visiting the various events.The shrine also holds weddings, coming-of-age ceremonies and purification rites. In the grounds you can also find the blue iris imperial gardens constructed by Emperor Meiji for the Empress, the Treasure Museum, the Meiji Jingu Museum where you can learn all about the shrine, and lawns and cafes where you can relax after paying your respects at the shrine.
Meiji Jingu has eight torii gates. A torii symbolizes the place where the gods come down from above, and is the line separating our world from theirs. It is good manners to quietly calm your breathing and bow briefly before going through the torii. Once you have passed through the torii you are on sacred ground, and your worship has begun.
Consecration of Burgundy Wine
In the Meiji Era, the idea of “Japanese Spirit and Western Knowledge' (Wakon Yosai) was adopted in Japan, with the aim of learning from the best of Western culture and civilization while maintaining Japan's age-old spirit and revered traditions. Emperor Meiji led the way in promoting modernization by embracing many features of western culture in his personal life, such as cutting his topknot and wearing western clothes, and in many other aspects of daily life. He also enjoyed western food and in particular liked to drink wine with it. The barrels of wine consecrated at Meiji Jingu are donated by the celebrated wineries of Burgundy, in France.
Consecration of Sake
During the Meiji era, the emperor led the industrial growth and modernization of Japan by encouraging various industries and supporting technological development. These sake barrels are offered every year by the Kotokai, which has made offerings of sake for generations, members of the Meiji Jingu Nationwide Sake Brewers Association and other sake brewers around Japan wishing to show their respect for the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
The Second Torii, the largest in Japan
The Second Torii, which stands where the South Approach and North Approach meet, is the largest wooden torii gate in Japan. The posts were made from a giant tree more than 1500 years old, have a diameter of 1.2 meters, stand 12 meters tall, and weigh 13 tons.
Once you have passed through the third torii, and the Minami Jinmon Gate, you enter the Main Shrine, with the Honden where the gods are enshrined, the Haiden (inner and outer) for offering prayers, covered galleries and more.
The Meotogusu on the left side before you enter the Main Shrine is famous as a power spot. Two camphor trees, planted in 1920 when the shrine was being built, are connected with a sacred rope. This is a place of prayer for those looking for a companion, and for lovers and married couples wishing to strengthen their relationships.
The wooden tea ceremony house Kakuuntei was built for Empress Shoken according to Emperor Meiji’s wishes. The original building was destroyed by fire during WW2, and reconstructed in 1958.
Legend has it that Kiyomasa’s Well was dug by Lord Kiyomasa Kato himself. It is well known as a power spot within Meiji Jingu. The water maintains a temperature of close to 15 degrees year round, and is said to spring from the ground at a rate of 60 liters/second.
The Treasure Museum
The Meiji Jingu Treasure Museum was completed in 1921, a year after the shrine itself, and is an early example of ferro-concrete architecture in Japan. It is a copy of the traditional Oyukazukuri (high floor) style of the Japanese National Treasure House in Nara (Azekurazukuri Shosoin). A skillful blend of Western and Japanese styles, it was registered as a National Cultural Property in 2011. The museum houses various items used by Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken including everyday items such as desks, stationary and books, as well as their favorite carriage and many other items. The museum is currently closed for renovations to the roof and earthquake-proofing.
The Meiji Jingu Museum
The Meiji Jingu Museum opened in October 2019 to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the shrine. It was designed by renowned architect Kuma Kengo, as a new addition to the Meiji Jingu forest.
Emperor Meiji, was born in 1852, a year before Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Japan from the USA. This was a time when the Western powers were competing amongst themselves as they sought lands to colonize. Just as the feudal system was collapsing in Japan, Emperor Komei passed away, and in 1867, at the young age of 14, his son became Japan's 122nd emperor.
The Creation of a Modern Nation
Emperor Meiji led a frugal lifestyle, sharing the suffering of Japanese citizens as he strove to create a new nation. In a brief half-century, Japan matured as a modern nation as it established a constitutional government, developed industry, fostered educational programs and pursued cultural advances. Photo: Promulgation of the Constitution:The birth of Asia's first modern constitution.
Empress Shoken was born in 1850 to the Ichijo family of Kyoto. She became empress in 1868. Empress Shoken's many accomplishments became the foundation of the imperial household's activities, and her enterprising spirit continues to this day.
Education for women
Familiar with academic studies from her childhood, Empress Shoken strove to advance education for girls. In 1875, she funded the establishment of the Women's Teaching College (present-day Ochanomizu University), and the Kazoku Girl’s School (present-day Gakushuin Girls' Junior & Senior High School) in 1885.
Kaigakan (Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery)
The Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, in the Gaien (Outer Precinct) of the shrine grounds, houses 80 wall paintings depicting scenes from the Meiji Restoration. As well as being masterpieces in their own right, the paintings are also valuable historical, political and cultural documents. The Gaien area is also popular for sports and athletics, and has a baseball stadium, tennis courts, football grounds and facilities for many other sports. The extensive park is a popular recreation spot, with the autumn Gingko tree festival among the many attractions that take place year round.
Meiji Kinenkan is the building in which the Constitution of the Empire of Japan was drafted. Later, it was donated to Meiji Jingu. Today, it contains a hall for Shinto weddings, and its expansive gardens and grounds make a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city.