Every New Year’s Day on ‘hatsumode’, Meiji Jingu, which is over 700,000 square meters in size, receives around 3 million worshippers, reflecting its ability to attract the greatest amount of visitors in the nation. Considering the amount of lush greenery located inside the perimeters of Meiji Jingu, it is hard to believe that it is located in the same vicinity as bustling commercial centers such as Harajuku, Omotesando and Shibuya. To reach the shrine from JR Harajuku station is a mere 5 minutes away and one could easily even reach it on foot from the above mentioned areas. Many people have become interested in Japanese religions such as Shintoism as a result of references to them in famous movies such as ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ and other Ghibli animated movies. Naturally, this has sparked the motivation of many sightseers to pay a visit to Meiji Jingu. In Japan, regardless of your religion, feel free to visit during the New Year. As well, experience the customs and culture of the Japanese people visiting this place as a power spot.
A Popular ‘Power spot’
Meiji Shrine is also known as a prime location to view the beautiful irises which blossom in the summertime from June to August. Furthermore, Meiji Shrine is known to be a power spot and has resultantly attracted many young women who wish to benefit from these powers. For example, the large camphor tree that has been standing since the Taisho Period outside the ge-haiden hall of worship, is a popular power spot visited by for those who wish to gain marital harmony and family safety.
And if you have time, you may also be able to witness a Japanese wedding ceremony. Generally speaking, visitors can see a Shinto ceremony in which the bride and groom declare to the gods that they will become a couple and contribute to society. The majestic wedding procession with the bride in white being led by a Shinto priest and shrine maidens and the groom in a kimono provides a snapshot of genuine Japanese culture.
The Way of Worship
In Japan, there is a special set way on how to pay worship when visiting a shrine. Standing at the entranceway of the shrine is a large arch called a ‘torii’, a traditional Japanese gate that symbolizes the entry into a sacred space. Although Meiji Shrine has many of these torii gates around its grounds, one of the wooden gates has gained recognition as the largest in the country. Beyond the torii gates is a walkway leading to the shrine, known as a sando. It is the path which the gods walk, and so visitors should take care not to walk in the middle of this sacred path.
Located within close view of the shrine is the chozu, where worshippers coming in from the ‘outer world’ should cleanse their hands and mouths with the water in the basin. When partaking in the purification process, there is a standard way to proceed. First, with the ladle, you should wash the left and right hands and then rinse your mouth with water in your left hand. Once you finish, you should wash your left hand again. It is after completing this process that visitors can continue on to the worship hall, bow and throw in money into the offering box. In the Japanese language, 5 yen (go-en) sounds similar to the words for ‘destiny’ and ‘fate’, and for that reason, worshippers should offer this specific coin for the best luck. Once the money is thrown, you should bow twice and clap twice, then bow once again; after the second clap make sure to make your wish.