Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu (Japan)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Meiji Jingu, a shrine located in Tokyo and the leading center of national Shinto in Japan, is one of the newest of the world’s major pilgrimage sites. It was built in 1920 to honor the life and accomplishments of the Emperor Meiji (1852–1912) and his wife, the Empress Shoken (1850–1914). Emperor Meiji, born on November 3, 1852, oversaw a prosperous era generally seen as the transition period during which Japan moved into the modern world. He ruled Japan for more than a half century (1867–1912) and had been responsible for establishing the state religion of Shinto and promoting it as an integral element in the identity of the Japanese people. He was buried in Kyoto, his birthplace, and the shrine was built to house his soul. Empress Shoken was born on May 28, 1850, in Kyoto. Best known for her promotion of the Japanese Red Cross, she was also buried in Kyoto.

The construction of the shrine culminated the series of regulations that had guided the rise of Shintoism over Buddhism. The Japanese military officially sponsored the site, which became a visible focus for the belief in the divinity of the Emperor. State Shintoism was promoted as something above and beyond religion, leaving individuals free to choose a religious faith (although religious organizations were forced into a select few groups recognized by the government). Members of the population were expected to give their assent and behave appropriately relative to State Shinto regardless of their religious commitments otherwise. The fact that the emperor was seen as divine created numerous problems for religious people across the Buddhist and Christian spectrum.

The shrine rests in the midst of a large park in Tokyo. The entrance is through Japan’s largest tori (gate). The three main buildings are the Outer Shrine, the Inner Shrine, and the Main Shrine. Shinto believers who visit will initially engage in a brief purification ceremony that includes rinsing their hands and gurgling water. Once they enter the shrine, there is the opportunity to make an offering, acknowledge the deity spirits (kami), and engage in an act seeking one’s fortune. The nearby Treasure Museum houses articles that belonged to the imperial couple and a photo display that facilitates memories of their life.

The shrine was destroyed during World War II. Following the war, the United States insisted on the transformation of the emperor’s office from absolute monarch to merely a symbol of the unity of the Japanese people (similar to the British monarch). In 1946 the emperor made a formal declaration that he was not a divine spirit (kami). Shintoism was also disestablished as the state religion. After a decade under the new system, the shrine was rebuilt in 1958. It continues to be the site of a site of eleven annual Shinto festivals. In addition, it serves as a major recreational park. The surrounding garden, some 33,000 square meters in size, includes an art museum and a variety of sports facilities for baseball, tennis, golf, swimming, and others. The park includes more than three hundred species of trees that were brought from across the country.

Beyond its religious role, the Meiji Jingu has become a major tourist attraction that draws several million visitors annually.


Kasahara, Kazuo. A History of Japanese Religion. Tokyo: Kosei Publishing, 2001.
Reader, Ian, Esben Andreasen, and Finn Stefansson, eds. Japanese Religions: Past and Present. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1933.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In complete contrast, the Shinto Meiji Jingu Shrine offered elegant gateways, tranquil gardens, a display of sake barrels, and the chance to make a wish for good fortune, while the market next to the Buddhist Sensoji Temple sold everything from chopsticks and kimonos to Japanese masks and flavoured rice crackers.
TOKYO, Oct 18, 2018 - (JCN Newswire) - The Toyota Automobile Museum will host the 2018 Classic Car Festival at Meiji Jingu Gaien Park in Shinjuku, Tokyo, on November 17.
The pair reportedly will be tying the knot two months after, on October 29 at the Meiji Jingu Shrine.
The duo will read their vows at the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya Ward in Tokyo on October 29.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO ENVELOPED by a forest of 100,000 trees, which were painstakingly planted by hand, Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, who ascended the throne in 1867, and is the great-grandfather of the current ruler.
Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine located across the JR Yamanote Line's Harajuku Station, is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken.
And in Japan, the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo brought out stocks of lucky charms and set up large offertory boxes as it prepared to welcome a huge wave of worshippers overnight.
Japanese prime ministers customarily visited Meiji Jingu up to the time of Junichiro Koizumi, who succeeded Yoshiro Mori in 2001.
With a traditional countdown outside the train station (so you know it will be on time) you are within walking distance of a myriad of bars and clubs in the area -- in particular, check out Center Gai, which is the birthplace of many of the fashion trends of Japan's young people.For a more traditional Japanese New Year, check out the shrine of Meiji Jingu, where thousands of Tokyo residents gather at New Year's Eve.
Another piece of old Tokyo not to be missed is the Meiji Jingu shrine.
A more recent, very substantial foundation is Meiji Jingu in Tokyo, where the 19th-century Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress are revered.