Things to do in Tokyo: Meiji Jingu Shrine

Yoyogi Park is one of the largest green spaces in Tokyo and home to one of its most well known shrines; Meiji Jingu.  With it's peaceful gardens and ponds, you'll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of urban Tokyo.  As well as a magnificent shrine and plenty of open space to stroll and relax, Yoyogi Park is also home to the Treasure Museum, which houses various paintings and artefacts belonging to the former Emperor Meiji.  

The urban area just outside Yoyogi Park.

The giant tori gate which marks the entrance to Meiji Jingu

Temples and shrines are often busy, but they still manage to maintain their peaceful atmosphere.  Meiji Jingu's busiest period is during January, as visitors descend upon the shrine in their millions for new year's prayers.

Tourists and locals gather at Meiji Jingu

The Treasure Museum, with a glimpse of urban Tokyo in the background

Japanese shinto religion is based on respect, so it's always advisable to be aware and mindful of traditional customs when you visit. Customs include:

Bowing before entering through the Tori Gate

Washing your hands from water at a well, using a ladle - to purify body and mind

At the altar, bowing, clapping your hands twice, praying and often ringing a bell before bowing and leaving

Visitors observe the shrine's customs on arrival 

'Ema' - plaques on which you write your hopes and wishes

Writing wishes on paper or wooden plaques (called 'ema') and hanging them up within the shrine is an ancient Japanese custom that visitors can take part in.

A visitor to Yoyogi park soaking up some rays 

Enjoy some fresh sashimi at the park's restaurant

Take in the sights and sounds around you, or perhaps stop for a picnic or lunch in the park restaurant serving up delicious fresh sushi and sashimi.  

Yoyogi Park is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll before heading over to nearby Harajuku, one of Tokyo's busiest and most colourful shopping areas.