Favorite Installation Artists

Friday, May 7, 2010

Japan - Tokyo, Part 4

Welcome to Meiji Jingu
(Sincere Heart)

This is a Shinto Shrine, conceived and dedicated as a dwelling place for the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and His consort, Empress Shoken.  Shinto, Japan's ancient belief system, has no originator, no holy book and no sense of a religious conversion.  It is recognition of the gratitude felt for Kami (divine spirits) who inhabit natural living things including human beings.  It can be thought of as a benign, positive force of pure energy and witnessed as good virtue.

To pay respect at a shrine, you must cleanse yourself.
Fill the dipper, then rinse your left hand.
Rinse your right hand.
Pour water into your left hand and rinse your mouth.
Rinse your left hand again.
Raise the dipper and let the water run down the handle, cleansing it for the next user.

Now we are ready to pass through the tori gate, the largest in Japan, and enter Meiji Shrine.

Lanterns begin long before the tori gate and continue along long paths to the shrine.  These must have been lovely at dusk, with flickering candlelight guiding you along the twists and turns.

The way has been prepared.  People view the Kami with awe and gratitude.  Offerings may be left by throwing coins in the receptacle for this purpose.  The coin with the most significance is the 5 yen coin.  It is believed that offering these coins will connect you to a person who is still invisible to you but will be important in your life.
The shiniest, newest coins are kept aside for this purpose.

To make an offering:
Put some coins in the receptacle box.
Bow twice.
Clap your hands twice.
Bow once again.
You have now alerted the Kami, with respect, to your presence.

(the receptacle box is inside, a lady is standing in front of it)

(photos are not allowed inside the actual shrine)

I put a Ema here for my grandchildren.

As I was walking out, I was very fortunate to see a bride and groom in traditional dress who had come to the shrine for their traditional wedding portrait.  It is believed to be good luck as Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken excelled in matrimonial harmony.
(I asked permission to take these pictures and they may not be used by anyone else without this couple's permission.)

Aren't they a lovely couple!

Meiji Shrine uses the proceeds from saki to preserve the grounds for prosperity.  The graphics on the barrels are works of art.

The Emperor and Empress excelled at writing traditional Japanese waku poetry, a verse of 31 syllables.  Here are two examples that have a philosophic thread.

Even while yielding
To it's container's form,
Water too can pierce
Entirely through the hardest rock;
Such is it's enduring strength.
(Emperor Meiji, died 1912)

By self reflection
And questioning our own hearts
We should then perceive
The proper path to pursue
And nothing would confuse us.
(Empress Shoken, died 1914)

It is regrettably time to leave Meiji Shrine, but I wanted to emphasize one virtue that may be Kami inspired, cleanliness.  It was evident all through Japan.  This preserve is in a natural state.  The trees are now approaching 100 years and it is a true forest.  Nowhere, on any of the broad paths and roads, did I see any fallen leaves let alone discarded paper.  This was due to the effort of gentlemen like these.  (Again, I asked permission for this picture.  You are not allowed to reproduce it.)


The broom is made from dried brush from the forest.

Meiji Shrine, April 9, 2010.
All editorial and photographic rights reserved.


  1. I loved this. I felt holy and cleansed reading it.

    And you are too cute!!!!


  2. You really enjoyed your trip - I can 'feel' it!
    I miss clean environment.
    Would be good to show these images in Egypt, here...How nice it is to walk around and really enjoy the nature...it's like meditation. All these images show how people enjoy being quiet!
    We have too much talking, unnecessary noise surround us most of the time. Places like that are important for people to relax, meditate, have a break from their hectic life...

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!


  3. These reports from japan are really superb, Linda! You are making it all come alive.

  4. kj,

    It's a truly special place, one of many.



    I really did. And, it is spotless everywhere. There are many quiet places like these. But, odd you should mention all the noise we all deal with. I am preparing a special post of something that was quite shocking to me regarding Japan, but on reflection, maybe not. I'll probably get to it right before I leave the Tokyo posts.



    Thank You! I loved Japan, and hope I do it credit. I'll be all month getting the pics up!