Meiji Jingu Shrine’s Best Kept Secret

fall stream

Meiji Jingu is one of the largest shrines in Japan. It can be accessed easily from the bustling Harajuku Station. And indeed it receives many visitors, especially from overseas. Because it’s about a 15 minute walk from my work, I often go there when I need to get away from the dense activity of Tokyo. The shrine is mostly a large forest comprised of over 100,000 trees donated from around Japan. The planning and planting of the forest deserves a post all its own.

Today I just want to tell you about a little known area of the grounds. Most people enter the shrine from the Harajuku exit and walk along the wide, well-groomed path that leads to the main buildings. But you’ve only covered half the distance to the other end. If you continue past the majestic wooden structures you’ll emerge into a broad rolling meadow with ponds, a treasure house and an archery range. I have never seen more than a handful of people here.

Right now the autumn colors are at its peak. When I sat down to enjoy the view I penned three haikus. And here they are, accompanied with photographs. My favorite photo is the one with the Shinto priests also taking photographs of the fall leaves.

handfuls of red 2

Drunk crows are singing
A gold gingko undresses
My arms shiver too

a herd of priests grazing under the maple

Red orange yellow
Each leaf is a flame, and crows
Fly up like popcorn

the magic maple detail

Some leaves drift upwards
Like glittering ashes, I
Let my breath follow

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