Didn't think I could get three posts out of a day trip to Tokyo did you!
From the Imperial Palace we got back in the car and went looking for Meiji Shrine, the largest shrine in Japan. Finding parking for Meiji Shrine was the problem (not finding Meiji Shrine) but once the car was parked we walked back to the shrine and entered another world.
Passing under the shrine gates, we were suddenly surrounded by GREEEEN!! The tall buildings of Tokyo were left behind and the sounds and smells became soft and mossy and damp.
Not so many people around and those there walked reverently to the main shrine area.
The inner gates to the shrine had the Imperial emblem of the Chrysanthemum...
...as did the lanterns along the outer walkways.
As with most shrines, there was an area for posting prayers on the tree and along the wall. For about $5, a prayer plate could be purchased and the written prayers submitted to the priests. They were displayed on this wall about 10 deep and it was very interesting to see all the prayers in many many different languages.
Probably the most interesting part of visiting the shrine was seeing the weddings that were being performed there... Well, not seeing the weddings themselves, but watching as the wedding party passed through the inner courtyard and into the shrine itself. Tetsu spotted this wedding party ahead of us and said
"Run. You can get a picture!"
Run? Am I even allowed to take a picture? But there seems to be an understanding that tourists can run along like papparazzi taking pictures of the weddings so I did my best to stay out of other photographers' ways and took my pictures.
The bride and groom were wearing tradition wedding finery, (the white hood hiding the horns of jealousy) and the bride was being guided by one of the Go-betweens (rather than a bride's maid). I would assume that the man in Morning wear is one of the fathers or the other Go-between. The girls in front wearing red are shrine workers. (By the way... those girls must have long un-dyed, un-permed hair and may not have pierced ears. Hard to find nowadays in Japan!)
The bride certainly looks happy! She nodded to us tourists as she went by.
A few minutes later, another party was leaving the shrine AFTER the ceremonies so I joined the throng taking pictures then too. This bride wasn't wearing as traditional a bridal costume as the first bride, but she too was very photogenic.
(I got some great close-ups of this bride. Too bad I don't know where to send them too! I fancy myself a professional photographer!)
Anyway, Meiji Shrine is a must to visit if you are ever in Tokyo. A very beautiful Japanese world...
And stepping back out of the shrine gardens we entered..... (really, just a few yards away!)
HARAJUKU!!! The funky shopping area for Japan's youth!!! Completely on the other side of the Japanese spectrum! Tetsu and I held on to each other (just so we wouldn't get separated) and shuffled along with our mouths open! We were probably the oldest couple on the street and some of the costumes and make-up that the teenagers wore were worthy of a circus act!
Well, if you are of the younger generation, Harajuku seems to be the mecca of Japan, but if you are my age, I think you'll prefer the quiet of Meiji Shrine!