During our first visit in Tokyo, we definitely wanted to live like locals and immerse ourselves into the unique Japanese culture. A Sunday stroll in Yoyogi park and the Meiji shrine was exactly what we needed. We had the chance to watch a traditional Japanese wedding in action and cute children wandering in little kimonos!
Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū) is a shrine dedicated to the first Emperor of modern Japan, Emperor Meiji and his consort. Meiji Jingu is one of Japan’s most popular shrines, really popular during the weekends, where many locals stroll around or visit the shrine in order to attend a special occasion, like a wedding or the annual Seven-Five-Three day (Shichi-go-san-no-hi) celebrated by Japanese children. Each year, on November 15th, children on their 3rd, 5th and 7th year of age visit the shrine dressed in kimonos to honor their growth and well-being. Aren’t they adorable?
In this sanctuary of peace and serenity, visitors can admire the evergreen trees and observe two of Japan’s largest torii (shrine gates), made of beautiful cypress wood more than 1,700 years old. During our walk, however, we could not take our eyes away from all the children marching proudly in their outfits while stopping from time to time to strike a pose in front of our lenses.
Pray just like the locals
Do not forget to stop at the cleansing station where you can dip into a water tank and purify your hands and mouth before offering up a prayer. Imitate the locals in writing your wishes on a piece of paper, tie it on the prayer wall, bow your head twice, clap twice and bow once more. Once you get further into the park, you will definitely come across at least one wedding. Wait until the whole family, the Shinto priests, the bride and the groom walk together under the big red parasol and start capturing some stunning photos.
The bride is always in a hooded white kimono, while the groom is in his formal black robe.
The Kiku Festival
If you visit the shrine in autumn, you will also have the opportunity to attend a Kiku flower festival or a competition. Kiku 菊 (or Chrysanthemum) is one of the most classic autumn flowers, regarded as the national flower of Japan, which has been used to symbolize royalty in history. As with Bonsai artists, there are florists who are specialized in growing and designing Kiku flowers.
When and How to go
The Meiji shrine is within one minute walking distance from Harajuku station (Yamanote line) and it is open from 6 am to 4 pm during autumn months.
*All photos are captured by Truevoyagers.