The long, long approach to the shrine itself is designed to calm and refresh the mind and to heighten the feeling of spiritual anticipation, especially after stepping off such a bustling street:
The Shinto kami like good things; the best sake, and in the case of this shrine, also the best Burgundy, is consecrated to the gods.
When we visited on Friday, there was an enormous display of chrysanthemum plants--the best of the best in all forms, from gargantuan to super-miniature bonsai--that had been dedicated to the shrine. (Chrysanthemums, of course, because the chrysanthemum is a symbol of the Imperial family.)
And it was quite a day to wander into the Meiji-jingu: first, there were several small children in elaborate kimono whose parents had brought them to the shrine. We couldn't see any particular ceremony going on, but there was obviously something special happening.
Then, by a stroke of the most amazing good luck, we saw a wedding. Lisa got some brilliant pictures of the bridal procession being led across the temple courtyard. My reflexes are slower (well, okay, I was too enthralled to remember to get out my camera), so I only caught this moment afterward, when the bride and groom were having their picture taken with various friends and relatives.
Yes, the groom is a gaijin!
After the excitement of the wedding, we walked around the shrine itself. The kami of the great trees are honored, in Shinto practice, by having the trunks wrapped with rope and hung with these paper lightning-bolts. At the Meiji-jingu there's this single tree (picture taken with the camera held way above my head, over the side shrine buildings' roofline, to give you a sense of the scale here)--
--and these spectacular twins.
While we were there, a woman came to stand before that pair of trees; she clapped her hands to get the kami's attention, and then she sang to them quietly for really quite a long time. Another woman came up to the trees and threw her arms wide, as if they were old friends she couldn't wait to greet.
Next post: homely outing and abouting in Musashisakai, including pictures of our new acquaintances Saburo-san and Orenji-neko-chan. ;-)