- An opportunity discover the two rulers who first opened Japan to the West, Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken
- Not as crowded and tourist-trodden as other temples throughout the city
- Known for its cleansing station and communal water tank where travelers can tie a wish to the prayer wall
Dedicated to the late 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West, Tokyo's most famous Shinto shrine is wonderfully serene and austere (it’s not colorful or flashy like other Asian places of worship). The 40-foot-high (12-meter) torii gate at the entrance to the 200-acre park is made of 1,500-year-old cypress, and there's a second one like it closer to the shrine itself.
Stop at the cleansing station where you can dip into a communal water tank and purify your hands and mouth before offering up a prayer. You can write wishes on little pieces of paper and tie them onto the prayer wall, or do as the locals do: toss some yen into the offering box (it's near the enormous taiko drum), bow your head twice, clap twice, and bow once more.
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To access the Meji Shrine, take the JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Station and exit from the Omotesando side. From there, it's a short walk to the park entrance.
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