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We woke up at sunrise and had a bite to eat in our room. There is a grocery store a short walk from the hotel so we stopped the evening before and stocked up on some supplies for breakfast. We were out the door early to catch the trains to Harajuku Station  which was next to the Meiji Shrine complex. When we arrived it was mid morning and there were already quite a few people at the Meiji Jingu First Torii gate entrance. I noticed several cars with diplomatic plates and flags entering the park when we arrived. I wondered what was going on?

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

As we walked along the main path we could hear drums so we walked over to a restaurant area (bathroom) to see what was going on. There was a plaza where traditional drummers were performing.

Continuing on we encountered wine barrels from the Provenance of the Bourgogne which was consecrated at Meji Jingu. We also encountered barrels of sake wrapped in straw. Apparently these barrels are offered every year to the enshrined deities by the Sake Brewers Association.

As we neared the Second Torii gate we notice policemen directing people to the side of the path. Something was up but we didn’t know what. We soon noticed that a Shinto ceremony was underway as the Kannushi were walking from their headquarters in the shrine complex. We watched the procession pass before we were allowed to continue on.

After passing through the Second Torii gate we encountered a beautiful display of chrysanthemums. We were amazed at what the Japanese can do with mums. the display included a large display of bonsai mums. At home we are used to purchasing a pot of mums to put out in the fall but we have never seen anything like what we found in Japan. As it turned out this was mum season and we encountered mum exhibits throughout Tokyo.

When we arrived at the main Meiji Shrine complex we discovered what was going on. We lucked out and timed our visit on the day of the Grand Shinto Ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Emperor Meiji’s birthday on November 3. This is why there were so many people in the park and the large number of displays and activities. we were able to see the procession of Kannushi enter the main shrine.

We followed the procession into the main shrine where the ceremony was taking place.

There were a group of what appeared to be soldiers marching toward the ceremony.

There were also quite a few people wearing traditional costumes for the ceremony. We took advantage of them posing for photographs.

We were able to look into the area where the ceremony was taking place but could not take any photos. The place was filled with dignitaries. As we walked away from the shrine I notice many diplomatic cars were parked along the road. I didn’t see the U.S. car.

We could hear sounds from another part of the park so we walked over to see what was going on. I should note that the Meiji Shrine complex is huge and is surrounded by a number of parks. When we arrived in the area we found a variety of activities taking place. Men and women were dressed in traditional costumes.

A nationwide archery tournament was being held.

Yabusame or horseback archery was being held by the Equestrian Archery Association.

Traditional martial arts were being demonstrated.

In another area there were agricultural displays of flowers and vegetables.

There were several stages where traditional Japanese music was being performed.

As we were leaving the area we noticed a number of men in a smoking area. As it turns out Tokyo is trying to crack down on smoking. When we were in Japan 5 years ago we encountered a lot of smokers. This time we saw very few smokers and we did see that smoking stations throughout the city were being used. Sometimes there were long lines to get into them.

As we were leaving the shrine area we once again encountered the Kannushi returning to their headquarters.

It was noon when we exited the park. There were a lot more people around many of the dressed in traditional costumes.

When we returned to Harajuku Station we considered walking down Takeshita Street. However, we reconsidered once we saw how packed it was.

We then took a train to Tokyo Station because we wanted to check out the station and also walk through the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.

We exited the East Gardens and walked through Wadakura Fountain Park Chiyoda City on our way back to Tokyo Station. It was beginning to look like rain so we didn’t stay long.

I took a panarama of the station. The last time we were in Tokyo the station was undergoing major construction and we were never able to get a good view of it. They also had a clock in front of the station counting down to the 2020 Olympics.Tokyo station is a city onto itself. I was easy to get lost wandering around the station. I only wish we had spent more time exploring.

Since it looked like rain we were trying to figure out where we could go and be inside. One of the strange traditions we have is that we visit the IKEA store when we go to a town. Since IKEA was an easy train ride from Tokyo station we decided to use this opportunity for a visit. I had my favorite meal. Checking out of the food line was a strange experience. My wife has a membership and we were asking for free coffee. However, the young lady checking us out apparently didn’t understand English. I’ve never heard anyone speak so fast in my life. It reminded me of a auctioneer in the states. We never did get our free coffee.

 

One Comment

  1. Nice series of pictures to go with the text


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