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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Meiji-jingu Shrine 明治神宮

Where Tokyo's modern pop culture and rich history meet

Surrounded by a lush green forest right in the heart of Tokyo, this Shinto grand shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and Empress Shoken, modern Japan's first Emperor and Empress.

You should prioritize Meiji Jingu as one of your first Tokyo stops, as any trip to bustling Shibuya or Harajuku pairs well with a quiet walk down the well-trodden paths to the shrine's front gate.

Don't Miss

  • Meiji Jingu's Treasure House, full of royal antiques and artifacts from the area's past
  • The traditional Inner Garden, a hidden "power spot"
  • The shrine's Spring Grand Festival held from late April to early May

How to Get There

Meiji Jingu is located next to JR Harajuku Station and the Meiji Jingumae subway station.

For JR, take the Yamanote Line and get off at Harajuku Station. On the metro, catch the Chiyoda or Fukutoshin Line and get off at Meiji-Jingumae. The shrine is a short 10-minute walk from either location.

Quick Facts

The shrine will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics

There are over 120,000 trees in the forest around Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park

Nearly a century of history

The shrine was built in 1920 as a memorial to the country's first modern-day royal rulers, Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

An early proponent of the ideologies that would come to define Tokyo, Emperor Meiji revolutionized modern-day Japan by pushing for a more westernized society, leading the nation in building relationships with some of the world's great powers. Like many other major sites in Tokyo, the shrine's buildings were destroyed during World War II, but rebuilt following a public fundraising effort.

Walking out of the city and into nature

Passing Harajuku Station, you'll be led into the forest down a winding pathway to the shrine's main grounds. The short walk to the front gates is sheltered by towering trees that block out the sights and sounds of the city outside.

Passing under the torii gate marking the beginning of the shrine grounds, you'll find it hard to believe you're in the middle of one of the world's busiest cities. There are over 100,000 trees making up this tranquil forest covering a gamut of different species, which were donated from all over Japan.

Taking part in the shrine's traditions

In the middle of this urban forest is the main complex of Meiji Jingu. If you've just arrived in Tokyo, it's a great destination for your first shrine visit, with plenty of English signage to help you partake in traditional Shinto rituals, such as making offerings and praying at the main hall, writing your wishes on an ema amulet, and purchasing a fortune or protective charm.

Beyond the main hall, there are a number of other important historic buildings you can explore, such as the Meiji Treasure House on the northern end of the grounds. Opened a year after the shrine itself, the Treasure House hosts historical artifacts and personal belongings of the emperor and empress.

The “power spot”

To the southern end of the shrine grounds is the expansive Inner Garden, an often overlooked but important part of the shrine. The iris gardens here were often visited by the emperor and empress, and one of the reasons Meiji Jingu was built here.

Although it requires an entrance fee, the garden is a beautiful labyrinth of scenic forest walks and traditional iris flowerbeds, and features a classic Japanese tea house. Kiyomasa's Well, named after the military commander who dug it 400 years ago, is considered a "power spot," a location where people visit in order to receive positive and restorative energy.

A center for festivals and events

Given its central location and rich history, the Meiji Jingu shrine grounds host a number of different festivals throughout the year.

Beginning on New Year's Day with Nikku-sai, when nearly three million visitors swarm the area in hope of a year's worth of good fortune, right up until the end-of-the-year ritual Joya-sai on December 31st, there's almost always something happening at the shrine.

However, if you're in Tokyo during late April and early May, be sure to come for the Spring Grand Festival, which hosts incredible performances of ceremonial music and dances. If there's not a festival on, there's a good chance a traditional Shinto wedding is happening in Meiji-Jingu, so keep your eyes peeled for a chance to spot the procession.

In addition, the surrounding Yoyogi Park is also host to a variety of modern festivals, food fairs, and performances all throughout the year.

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