January 8, 2006 part 2 – Meiji Shrine

Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.

After doing some sightseeing in Shinjuku with The Penpal and my friend UPS, we went back to Shinjuku station and took a quick ride on Yamanote line towards Meiji Shrine.

Meiji - guard

Walking towards the Shrine on a Sunday is always fun because of all of the cosplayers. UPS was surprised to see all of the elaborate costumes, even on a chilly day. We spent some time looking at the costumes, then proceeded to the shrine itself. Like most of the visitors, UPS got a picture taken with some of the cosplayers. He also took the time to get a picture with a nearby security guard who was directing traffic near the busy shrine.

Meiji - shrine

Meiji Shrine should be on everyone’s must visit list if you are in Tokyo, even for a short time. The forest around the shrine is lush and spectacular, and features trees from all over Japan. The shrine itself is a series of sprawling wooden buildings, lovingly restored in the 50s after being completely destroyed during World War II. It was still close to New Year, so the shrine was busier than usual, although thankfully not as crazy as it would have been a week ago. UPS wanted to take in everything, and the Penpal was happy to explain the different parts of the shrine and their significance.

The Penpal showing UPS how to wash his hands at the shrine

The Penpal showing UPS how to wash his hands at the shrine

As we were preparing to leave the shrine, we noticed a female high school sports team, all in their warm up uniforms, entering the shrine together. UPS thought this was a great opportunity for a picture, and walked up and asked if they would mind getting a picture with him. In summer 2004 I had some other fraternity friends show up in Japan, and it was generally a struggle to get them to talk to Japanese people. UPS had no such issues, and managed to get a hilarious picture (which will not be included here).

Even though I had been to Meiji Shrine several times before, it was still a great experience to see a large space in one of the busiest, most modern cities in the world set aside to remember it’s past. UPS enjoyed the experience, and The Penpal enjoyed sharing her culture with one of my friends.

Next up: return to Yoyogi park.

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