Meiji Shrine at Yoyogi Park Tokyo
Above is the chōzuya or temizuya (手水舎) outside the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. It is a Shinto water ablution pavilion for a ceremonial purification rite known as temizu.
Water-filled basins, called chōzubachi, are used by worshippers for washing their left hands, right hands, mouth and finally the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto shrine or shaden (社殿). Originally, this purification was done at a spring, stream or seashore and this is still considered the ideal. Worshippers at the Inner Shrine at Ise still use this traditional way of ablution.
Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū) is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. Located in the Shibuya district, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city. The spacious shrine grounds offer walking paths that are great for a relaxing stroll. Above is the main gateway to the shrine and the beginning of one of the long path to the shrine. It’s a beautiful walk up there through the forest on the wide path.
The shrine was completed and dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920, eight years after the passing of the emperor and six years after the passing of the empress. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly thereafter.
In the middle of the forest, Meiji Jingu’s buildings also have an air of tranquility distinct from the surrounding city. Visitors to the shrine can take part in typical Shinto activities, such as making offerings at the main hall, buying charms and amulets or writing out one’s wish on an ema.
The forest that contains the shrine covers an area of 70 hectares (170 acres). This area is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established. The shrine itself is composed of two major areas the Naien is the inner precinct and the Gaien the outer precinct.
While inside the shrine we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a Shinto wedding taking place. The young couple look so happy. It was great to witness a wedding that is so culturally different to the ones I’ve been to before.