Saturday, April 3, 2010

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Meiji Jingu is located in a beautiful nature preserve in the heart of Tokyo dedicated to the memory of the Meiji Emperor & his wife. The two were much beloved by the Japanese, and the shrine was built after their deaths in 1920.

The Shrine itself has an exterior courtyard, called the Gaien, with a broad, sweeping walkway leading up to the shrine. Broad trees mass into an arch overhead, adding drama to the walk. Huge tori gates made of Japanese cypress trees mark the entrance to the inner courtyard, called the Naien. One of the doors to the inner courtyard is shown here. It bears the Japanese family crest of the Toyotomi family, which features the go-san no kiri mon (five-three blossomed paulownia leaf symbol). So, I'm guessing either the Meiji Emporer or his wife was a member of this clan. The symbolism in these shrines is constant and a bit overwhelming; you scratch it, and it keeps coming at you. I'm always trying to learn, as it's all so fascinating. However, it's best sometimes to just let it all wash over you.

The Japanese aesthetic, which uses simple, natural materials, and treats them with such incredible craftsmanship, always blows me away. The swoop of the roofline of temple buildings is grace itself. Very moving. More photos of Meiji Jingu here.

Afterwards, we visited Yoyogi park, which was absolutely jam-packed with people laying out blankets and having picnics under the cherry blossom trees. It was truly spectacular... so many little things; a street performer, memories of playing with Forrest with a remote control boat, watching all the groups of Japanese get loose together.

Feeling very special about sharing these things with the kids.

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