Yesterday I visited the Meiji Shrine (明治神宮 meiji jinguu) with a group of Japanese students fro JWU. The shrine was originally built in 1921 to commemorate Emperor Meiji. The shrine was rebuilt in 1958 after being destroyed in WWII. The shrine itself is located in a patch of forest next to Yoyogi park (代々木公園 yoyogi kouen), right in the middle of Shibuya, Tokyo.
To get there, we took the Yamanote line from Sugamo to the Harajuku station (原宿駅) and entered the shrine grounds. Before visiting the main part of the shrine, we listened to a presentation about the shrine and religion in Japan. It was interesting, but it could probably have been made a lot shorter. Basically, the ancient Japanese way of life is a religion and they didn’t realize that it was or have a name for it until Buddhism came to Japan. The Japanese ‘religion’ became known as 神道 (shintou), or Way of the Gods from 神 shin/kami meaning ‘God’ and 道 tou/dou meaning ‘way’. Today, the vast majority of the Japanese population follow both the Shinto and Buddhist religions.
After the presentation, we went to the shrine and took a few pictures. We also performed some of the Japanese shrine-going rituals, cleansing oneself and praying at the shrine. Afterwards, we went Yoyogi park to hang out for a while and play a few games. And after that we visited an izakaya (居酒屋, essentially a bar) in Shibuya and got some refreshments.