September 2021. In our Grand Scheme of Travels, Danny and I had planned to be in Japan with Michel. Quod non. So let’s go back to March and April 2013, when my sister Florence, her husband Kenneth, my nephew Leo and my niece Isaline travelled to Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto. The classic intro to Nippon and a golden opportunity. I grew up with anime such as ‘Dragon Ball‘ and ‘Saint Seiya‘ on television and Japan had been on my wish list since I was little. There’s a lot I don’t remember. But thanks to photos on Facebook, my guidebook and check-ins on Swarm (Foursquare), I can reconstruct parts of that trip.
After a solo day 1, my sister arriving on day 2, we started day 3 with the Sensō-ji Temple, the Hamarikyu Gardens and the Imperial Palace East Gardens.
We ended the the day at the Meiji Shrine or Meiji Jingū and Harakuju.
The shrine does not contain the emperor’s grave, which is located at Fushimi-momoyama, south of Kyoto.
After the emperor’s death in 1912, the Japanese Diet (parliament) passed a resolution to commemorate his role in the Meiji Restoration. An iris garden in an area of Tokyo where Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken had been known to visit was chosen as the building’s location.
Construction began in 1915 under Itō Chūta, and the shrine was built in the traditional nagare-zukuri style, using primarily Japanese cypress and copper. The building of the shrine was a national project, mobilizing youth groups and other civic associations from throughout Japan, who contributed labor and funding.
The main timbers came from Kiso in Nagano, and Alishan in Taiwan, then a Japanese territory, with materials being utilized from every Japanese prefecture, including Karafuto, Korea, Kwantung, and Taiwan. It was estimated that the cost of the construction was ¥5,219,00 in 1920 (approximately US$26 million today), about a quarter of the actual cost due to the donated materials and labor.
It was formally dedicated on November 3, 1920, completed in 1921, and its grounds officially finished by 1926.
Until 1946, the Meiji Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha (, meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.
The original building was destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of World War II. The present iteration of the shrine was funded through a public fund raising effort and completed in October 1958.
Harajuku is a district in Shibuya. Harajuku is the common name given to a geographic area spreading from Harajuku Station to Omotesando, corresponding on official maps of Shibuya ward as Jingūmae 1 chōme to 4 chōme. In popular reference, Harajuku also encompasses many smaller backstreets such as Takeshita Street and Cat Street spreading from Sendagaya in the north to Shibuya in the south.
Harajuku is known internationally as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion.
Shopping and dining options include many small, youth-oriented, independent boutiques and cafés, but the neighborhood also attracts many larger international chain stores with high-end luxury merchandisers extensively represented along Omotesando.
Harajuku Station on the JR East Yamanote Line and Meiji-jingumae ‘Harajuku’ Station served by the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line and Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line also act as gateways to local attractions such as the Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park and Yoyogi National Gymnasium, making Harajuku and its environs one of the most popular destinations in Tokyo for both domestic and international tourists.