Honey, we’re not in Tokyo anymore… oh wait, yes we are. (The Meiji Shrine)

For more pictures, check out my tumblr, which will be periodically updated with photos!

I can already tell. Our days are gonna be packed.

So many places. So many things. I’ve been experiencing a sensory overload.

Here is my first full day in Tokyo, in summary:

It’s exhausting to be sure, but my god. I’m in Tokyo! And as you can see: So many things! I don’t even know where to start writing about it. It’s been puzzling me for hours.

But I believe a good post should tell a story, so I’ll start with the story of the Meiji Jingu.

Anyone who has learned a bit about Japanese history knows about the Meiji Restoration, a period where Japan adopted Western culture while still maintaining Japanese traditions. Emperor Meiji tried to turn Western technology to Japan’s advantage, adopting what would be beneficial and ignoring that which was not. During this period Japan saw a lot of growth and innovation. This Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, are enshrined at the Meiji Jingu. The original shrine was actually destroyed in World War II, but was restored in 1958.

When I saw the entrance to the shrine, it surprised me. What was this peaceful, enclosed forest doing in the middle of urban Tokyo? I walked in and felt like I was out in the woods, not the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.

There was a long gravel path leading to the Meiji Jingu, with three large wooden gates coming before the shrine itself. Before I could enter the actual shrine, I had to purify myself: at a fountain, I had to scoop water into each hand and touch them to my mouth.

The shrine itself contains several buildings, each with a different function. At the main shrine, people were donating money and making wishes.

And for 500¥, you could write a wish on a wooden charm for the deities to fulfill.

We were there on a Sunday, when traditional Japanese weddings often take place. My group was lucky enough to see the procession!

And finally, all of the girls decided to get an omikuji, or a poem-drawing. Each omijuki consisted of a poem written by the late Emperor Meiji or Empress Shotoku, and what message that poem held for you. Here’s mine!

And did I mention that that was only the afternoon? It gets better in Harajuku.