Into the evergreen forest

I LOVE Japan. In this capital city where space is precious and costly, enclaves of green spaces are never compromised. Nature and man are not separate, they exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity. Such is Shinto, the “Way of the Gods”.

After scouring the luxury shops along the Champs Elysee of Tokyo aka Omotesando, the visit to the evergreen forest of Meiji Jingu was perfect. To be under the towering green foliage of 100,000 trees, was, to say the least, rejuvenating.
wikipedia image

Entering the 700,000 square-meter park through the 12-meter high torii gate made of 1,500-year old cypress promises every visitor a tour into the heart of Japan’s history and culture.

The Mieiji Jingu is Tokyo’s most popular shrine. Completed in the first quarter of the 20th century, the shrine is dedicated to the 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West, Emperor Meiji, and to his wife, Empress Shoken. Ravished by war then rebuilt, the shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha in 1946, meaning that it stood in the first rank of government-supported shrines.

The central sanctuary where the Meiji emperor is enshrined.

Within the complex are the Naien, the inner precinct where the shrine buildings are and the treasure museum housing the articles of the Emperor and the Empress; and the Gaien, the outer precinct with the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery housing a collection of 80 murals illustrating the life of the Emperor, the National Stadium, and the Meiji Memorial Hall where Shinto weddings are held.

Luckily, I chanced upon a couple of wedding marches on this visit. It was totally surreal, the entire picture exuded of elegance, I watched in awe.

In Meiji Jingu and its evergreen forest I was invigorated once more. It was time to take to the streets of Tokyo once more and explore.

But before I did, here’s what I’ve learned what everyone must do when visiting a shrine: approach the entrance and bow respectfully before entering; perform Temizu, the cleansing ritual- wash your left hand first, then your right, then rinse your mouth, (do not spit back into the water supply or drink), and if needed, the feet as well; tip the ladle backwards to wash the ladle handle with the remaining water and place opening down on the rack where it was; you can now enter the shrine and be aware of the areas you are only allowed to visit; and when entering the buildings, take off your footwear.

Cleansing ritual. Visitors wash hands , gargle the water before entering the shrine.

Should you wish to pray you may ring the bell prior to prayers; if there is a box for donations, leave a modest one in relation to your means; bpow twice and claps twice holding the second, then put your hands together in front of your heart for a closing bow after your prayers.
Prayers left by visitors.

I only got to do the Temizu.
Nihonshu barrels. Sake donated to the Meiji Shrine…..and no, I’m not peeing.

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