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Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
“When we sip tea we are on our way to serenity.” -Alexandra Stoppard
As I have in my home city, I found a patch of green, a serene public place to visit when I am in the bustling urban hub of Tokyo. It is the Meiji Shrine, located in Shibuya. Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. Shinto is a word used for the non-Buddhist practices in Japan. The word translates to “way of the gods” and was adopted from the combination of two kanji: “shin” means gods or spirits, and “do” means philosophical path or study.
One main focus of the practice is the purification of the world, as it is filled with Kami, which can be described in English as spirits, essences, or deities. Modern Shinto does not have a central authority figure or group, and today it is an all-encompassing association of shrines around the country, expressing the beliefs through similar language, practice, ritual, and architecture.
I simply enjoy my strolls through the Meiji Shrine. At times, I watch weddings and business prayers, other times it is simply taking in the peace and serenity. Respectfully, I appreciate the architectural details and thoughtfully manicured landscape, encompassing 175 acres. Many people visit the forest as both a spiritual home of the people and as a recreational and relaxation area in the center of Tokyo. I think it is an amazing thing to have an escape from city life, inside the city itself.
Photos by D.B. Kim.