Glimpses on the Meiji Jingu Shrine

Ema: There are different forms of charms available for sale at the Shrine. There is the Omamori which are very common. Most people will get them as gifts to bring back home and they are believed to possess mysterious power to grant wishes and to keep the evil forces away from its owner. Then there is also the Ema as shown here, a wooden tablet on which one’s prayers are written. I love reading these wishes and in fact, from the wishes indicated by people of different nationalities, you will get to learn something about their cultures. In one such case, the Koreans will usually include a line to invite good fortune to their homes, to bless their families even when it serves mainly as a vow for romantic love.

Miko: Miko refers to the young women assisting in the day to day operation of the Shrine. They are dressed in white top known as the Chihaya and the red bottom known as the Hibakama. The hair is tied up into a Noshi and they would be carrying a big brolly wherever they move about in the premise. The Miko in the picture opened up her brolly the moment she sensed that I was about to take her picture. I have no idea why they should be so secretive or is it part of the ritual as a mark of respectful for the souls residing in the shrine? That I have no idea but if I really want a picture of them, I could definitely take a shot at the souvenir shop where they act as attendants.

Harajyuku station: It was a refreshing trip, even though it was a really short one. The first stop in Tokyo was the Harajyuku station since checking into the hotel will only be possible a few hours later and I wanted very much to take a look at the possible Autumn scene for the first time. As indicated on the map, the Meiji Shrine is only some distance away from the Harajyuku station and since it was still early, the shopping malls wouldn’t have been opened and the only sane thing to not waste the half day here would naturally be vsiting the parks or shrines. And I made a really good choice, since first impression stays, the first meeting with Japan should none other be with its tradition and culture. Later then I realized that the Harajyuku station is also unqiue in its retaining the image of the old Tokyo. This is actually one of the interesting things to do in Tokyo, to observe how each station has its own style to convey its mood of its vicinity. No doubt the stark contrast of the old(building) and the new(modern Harajyuku kids in cosplay) is another interesting feature.
Honden: Once you stepped into the Meiji Shrine premise, it’s like entering a secret garden. The Japanese parks are all so impressive as I later experienced. The plot of land devoted to these parks just show how much the people love to be close to nature even when they are already a noted modern city on the world map. I especially like the attitude of the Japanese and the visitors whenever they are in a shrine or temple. Most of them would appear so serene and respectful, you are like instantly transformed when you are in it, regardless of your religion and race. One of the structures of the shrine, the Honden, or main sanctuary was a special architecture and the great Shinto Archway boasts of being the largest wooden one in all of Japan. The top is 17m long, the second plank at 15.5m and the height are at 12m and 9.1m, respectively. I managed to catch a glimpse of the procession of priests and even took a video on it. (Too bad it’s too big to be uploaded to my Youtube acount). Then of course the wedding procession that took place on the same day was a bonus. Chozu: Besides the main sanctuary, like in other shrines that I’ve been to, such as the Toshugu shrine at the Ueno park, there is the practice of Chozu, or the act of spiritual purification using water before one worships at the shrine. You would first use a ladle provided to pour water over your hands, then rinse your mouth with the water and return the ladle to its original position. The ritual actually reminds me of the Islamic practice, one that all muslim will subscribe to when cleansing themselves before entering the mosque for prayers.

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