M is for Meiji Shrine

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In light of the recent series of earthquakes in Kumamoto 熊本, Japan, I once again turn to Japan as part of my travel theme for the A to Z Challenge. Today, M is for Meiji Shrine or Meiji Jingu 明治神宮, located in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Meiji Shrine

Torii gate at Meiji Shrine – photo by kei

I most recently visited Meiji Shrine in January of 2015. The shrine, dedicated to the Meiji emperor and empress, is located within the expansive Yoyogi Park and was built in 1921. The Meiji Shrine represents the naturalistic system of beliefs and customs known as Shinto, rather than a Buddhist temple such as the Jodo Mission in Maui or the Great Buddha in Kamakura.

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine – photo by kei

This shrine is one of the most highly visited shrines in Japan, especially by foreigners. The beautiful grounds of Yoyogi Park, the January sumo wrestler entry, and the many celebrations that occur at this shrine are part of the attraction.

In a fitting entry for this Photo Friday Challenge: Future, I submit Meiji Shrine as a symbol of the future for Japan. Although there has been extensive destruction in Kumamoto and the entire island of Kyushu during this week’s series of magnitude 7 earthquakes, just like in 2011, Japan will come through this stronger. As a country built on a volcano and close to a triple junction where tectonic plate motion causes strong earthquakes, Japan has a history of surviving geologic disasters. Meiji Shrine will host the Spring Grand Festival or Haru-no-Taisai 春の大祭 in the beginning of May, a symbol of renewal and rebirth. As always, Kumamoto will be rebuilt and will be stronger in both construction and community as a result.

Fortunately, my friends and their families in the Kumamoto and Kyushu region are safe, although some have lost their homes. I pray for their safety in the coming aftershocks, and in the future. がんばれ日本!

Meiji Shrine

Colorful barrels of sake at Meiji Shrine – photo by kei

Have you or anyone you know been affected by the Kumamoto earthquakes this week? Have you visited Meiji Shrine? I wish everyone a safe week!

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