Where: Meiji-Jingumae (Harajuku) Station on the Tokyo Metro Line
Duration: 1-1.5 hours
History: To commemorate the deaths of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken, people from all over Japan and overseas donated trees to surround the Shinto shrine in 1920, building a forest in the middle of Tokyo. There were six original buildings in the shrine, which burnt down during World War II and were rebuilt in 1958. A list of ceremonies can be found on the shrine’s website.
Point of Interest: The large, wooden structures called shrine archways usher your way towards the shrine in the middle of the forest. They hedge you into a walk through the donated trees and seem to transport you out of the bustling cityscape of Tokyo. It’s amazing just how quiet it can get in one of the largest cities in the world (and the busiest areas of the largest cities).
Recommendation: I’d say a 3.5/5. We got there early in the morning, around 9 or 10 am and it was already filled with people. I was also a bit disappointed to not find any brochures or maps to give any information on what we were seeing once we got to the shrine. It was really lovely, and very different from the temples in South Korea which tend to be more ornate. There are some temples and shrines in the area with less people that can be attended.