This is the first post in a series of “Little Adventure” posts I’ll put up showing some of the adventures of the past two weeks.
As of today (Monday, June 24th), I’ve been in Japan for about 12 full days. Thanks to an incredible host family and host-extended family/friends, I’ve met a ton of people (about 30 — I’ve been counting) and had a number of really wonderful and exciting adventures.
The picture above is from the Meiji Shrine, a Shinto shrine built in the early 1900s to commemorate Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken, who were important players in the Meiji Restoration (a period in Japanese history that oversaw the emergence of Japan as a modernized nation). The shrine is located in Shibuya, quite close to my current host family’s house; I visited on Wednesday of last week with my host mother. Here she is!
We didn’t stay for too long (I had some more work to do preparing for my English lessons the next day), but it seemed as though there were just a few main things to see. The shrine is placed within a large, dense forest area, with wide paths paved for people to walk along. In order of discovery, here are a few things we saw!
A huge Pi symbol? No! It’s a 鳥居 (torii, traditional Japanese gateway).
Barrels of wine on the left, sake on the right. For one reason or another (religious, political, commercial — perhaps all three), Meiji Shrine attracts bountiful liquid donations from renowned distillers and winemakers around the world.
You’ve got to wash your hands using a special bamboo cup (here are a bunch of girls doing it, left) before entering the main shrine (right).
I didn’t grab any great pictures inside the shrine (no pictures were allowed at the main shrine area where people pray), but it’s essentially a large courtyard with a further, closed off area that you can look at / pray toward. There’s also an area to hang prayers cards, for a small donation of course!
I have to admit that the place still feels pretty new — compared many other shrines in the world this one is very young, of course — which made it a bit less exciting to me. But overall, I was glad to go, and to spend some time with my host-ma!