M is for Meiji Shrine


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!

Japanese Diaries Day 34 Part 1 – Meiji Shrine & Sumo


It was the last day of my one-month trip to Japan, and my last sightseeing trip with my fiance before I headed back to the states was to Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 in Shibuya, Tokyo.



My one-month trip was coming to an end, and I would be heading back to the US to finish up my graduate studies and earn my Master’s degree. My fiance would be staying in Japan for the time being, so we went for one last outing before I left the next day.

Meiji Shrine / 明治神宮

The previous day had been rainy, so after a day of shopping we took some time to relax and warm up in a Japanese love hotel. But Wednesday was sunny and I wanted to visit Meiji Jingu or Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 in the Shibuya ward 渋谷区 of Tokyo.

Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and his consort Empress Shoken. The shrine was a national project, completed on November 1, 1920, with over 100,000 trees from all over Japan and overseas donated by the Japanese people to build the shrine.

Part of the reason for our visit was for our first New Year’s shrine visit. Because of the death of my fiance’s close relative, we had visited a Buddhist temple on the New Year rather than the traditional Shinto shrine.

Harajuku Station

Harajuku Station outside Meiji Shrine – photo by kei

The shrine is just outside of the JR Yamanote Line’s Harajuku Station, and just down the street from Takeshita Dori or Takeshita Street, which is a street packed with boutiques and cafes and is most often associated with the range of Japan’s trendiest fashion, from lolita to pastel to fairy kei.

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street in Shibuya – photo by kei

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Japan Diaries Day 30 – Shibuya


The New Year had just begun, but my one-month trip to Tokyo, Japan was almost over. After checking out the bargain sales with my future mother-in-law, I had plans to hang out with my friend from university.



Earlier in December, I met up with my friends from university from when I studied abroad in Yamanashi Prefecture 山梨県. Most of my university friends now live in or around Tokyo, although a few of them came from a little farther away. I later spent time with my friend and her baby and now I was meeting up with another university friend who was coming into Tokyo from Yamanashi Prefecture just to hang out.

That morning, my fiance’s brother and his wife left, and so we greeted them in the morning as they went to the airport. They live in Hokkaido 北海道, the northernmost main island of Japan, and so it was faster to fly than to take the bullet train or shinkansen 新幹線. After seeing them off at his parent’s house, my fiance’s father dropped me off at the train station so I could go meet my friend.

We spent the day in Shibuya 渋谷, which is a great shopping destination. Shibuya was on my list of top Tokyo sightseeing spots, so I was excited to visit it before I left Japan. I spent a lot of time in Shibuya and Shinjuku when I was studying abroad and it’s a fun place to hang out.

Hachiko at Shibuya

Hachiko at Shibuya – photo by kei

We met at the statue of Hachiko ハチ公 at Shibuya Station 渋谷駅. Hachiko is a famous faithful dog who waited at the train station for his owner everyday until the owner’s death, and then continued to wait everyday until his own death. This statue commemorates his loyalty, and is a popular meeting place for friends or dates.

Shibuya TsutayaShibuya arrival – photo by kei Continue reading