Meiji Shrine

Historic Building

What kind of place is Meiji Shrine?

Meiji Shrine is a shrine that enshrines Emperor Meiji, the 122nd emperor, and Empress Dowager Shoken. Following the passing of Emperor Meiji in 1912 (Meiji 45) and Empress Dowager Shoken in 1914 (Taisho 3), many people expressed the desire to enshrine divine spirits, and Yoyogi, which had a deep connection to both of them, was called upon. It was founded on November 1, 1920 (Taisho 9).

Meiji Shrine is undoubtedly one of the most famous shrines in Japan. It is also known for having the largest number of worshipers in Japan for the New Year’s visit. It has a vast site of 73 hectares (0.72㎢), and small animals such as raccoon dogs live in the artificially created forest within the site.

You can get quite a lot of information by visiting the English version of Meiji Jingu’s website from the link below. This is a very carefully created website, so please check the official website for detailed information.
In this blog, I will mainly write about the places I usually visit when I am visiting the shrines.

Meiji Jingu
Meiji Jingu Official Website|Meiji Jingu is one of the Shinto shrines in Japan, with the vast land of the forest (70 ha.), located in the middle of the megacity...

Highlights of Meiji Shrine

The map below is a guide map of the grounds of Meiji Shrine. We will introduce some representative tourist spots

Quoted from the Meiji Shrine official website(

①Torii Gate

A torii, which is a gate that consists of two pillars topped with a double lintel and a tie beam, marks the entrance to a shrine, separating the sacred world from the secular. This torii is in the myojin style, which is differentiated by a curved upper lintel and a long tie beam.
There are three sixteen-petal chrysanthemum-shaped crests decorating the upper lintel. The chrysanthemum crest is the crest of the Imperial Family and indicates the connection between the Imperial Family and Meiji Jingu. The crest has been incorporated throughout the shrine grounds, for example in the design of the lanterns.

(Quoted from the Meiji Shrine official website)

This is the first of three torii along the Minami sando approach to the main shrine. You will see people bowing to show respect when they pass under a torii as they enter and leave the shrine precincts.

(Quoted from the Meiji Shrine official website)

③Main Shrine (Honden)

The honden main shrine is the most sacred building in the Meiji Jingu shrine. The inner sanctum is at the heart of the main shrine, and is where the kami deities are enshrined. Many rituals are carried out daily inside the inner sanctum, including the offering of sacred food and prayers known as onikkusai, which is held at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day.
The honden and the buildings around it are of Japanese cypress wood, while the roofs are clad with copper. The timber used is mainly from Kiso in Nagano Prefecture, a district famous for the cultivation of large Japanese cypress trees.
The main shrine is built in the nagare zukuri style, which is a popular style of shrine architecture found throughout Japan. In this style of architecture, the roof at the front of the shrine is much longer than at the back, as the front roof is extended to cover the steps up to the shrine building.
The structures of the honden include the noritoden or Shinto prayer recital hall, the naihaiden, inner shrine hall, and the gehaiden, or outer shrine hall. The gehaiden is at the front of the shrine, and is where visitors pray.
The main shrine building was originally completed in 1920, but was burnt down during the air raids at the end of World War II. The present building was completed in 1958. For reasons of fire proofing, copper was used for the roofs of the new buildings rather than the tree bark which had been used for the original buildings.

④Main Gate (Minami Shinmon)

This gate is the most important of the three gates that open onto the main shrine complex, and is the main entrance. The importance of this entrance is reflected in the gate’s being a two-story building, whereas the other two gates are single story. The gate was built in 1920 when Meiji Jingu was dedicated, and is one of the few structures to have survived the air raids of World War II. The gate is made from Japanese hinoki cypress, roofed with copper.

If you look closely, you will see small heart-shaped patterns carved into the ornamental metal fittings and woodwork. This is a design feature with ancient roots known as inome in Japanese. Today, the Chinese characters for the word might be read as ‘eye of the wild boar’, but it also has the nuance of warding off fire. This was of particular importance when most structures in Tokyo were still made of wood.
When passing through the gate, be sure to step over the wooden beam, not on it. It is considered respectful to bow your head while passing through.

⑤Hall of Shinto music and dance (Kaguraden)

This building is the Kaguraden, where devotees can receive blessings or participate in Shinto rituals. Kigansai are held here regularly at 9.30 am. A kagura, or sacred music and dance performance called the yamato mai, which is unique to Meiji Jingu, is performed as an offering to the kami. Kigansai would include a baby’s first shrine visit and a child’s shichi-go-san, a celebratory occasion held in November for girls turning three or seven and boys turning five. Kigansai are also held to ward off evil, usually at a specific age (25 or 42 for men, 19 or 33 for women).
The building was completed in 1993 and has three floors, two of them underground. The main ceremony hall on the ground level can accommodate up to 800 people. Please note that entry to the Kaguraden is reserved for those taking part in a ceremony. Vermillion shrine seals or goshuin are available in the Kaguraden as a token of your visit to the shrine. These are usually entered into a goshuincho, a book dedicated to goshuin.

Wedding ceremony (Shinto-style)

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to see a Shinto-style wedding ceremony. Meiji Shrine is also a very popular place for weddings.
For men, it is common to wear a hakama with a family crest on it, and for women, it is common to wear a white hakama for marriage. Also, a brightly colored kimono called Irouchikake is often worn at wedding receptions.

On the day of a Shinto-style wedding, the priest leads the bride and groom, followed by their families in procession through the grounds. This procession can be seen by general tourists, so you may come across one. This is a uniquely Japanese wedding that can only be seen in Japan.



South approach
Get off at Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line and exit from Omotesando Exit (however, during busy seasons such as New Year’s visit, trains on the Yamanote Line outer line use a temporary platform (platform 3), and a temporary ticket gate to the adjacent Meiji Shrine is set up. ). Get off at Meiji-Jingumae Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line/Fukutoshin Line, Exit 2.
North approach
Get off at Kitasando Station on the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line.
JR Yamanote Line, Chuo/Sobu Line (local trains) Get off at Yoyogi Station.
Get off at Yoyogi Station on the Toei Oedo Line.
West approach
Get off at Sangubashi Station on the Odakyu Electric Railway Odawara Line.


About 5 minutes from the Yoyogi Exit of Shuto Expressway Route 4 Shinjuku Line.