There are many interesting places to visit in Tokyo, but if you are the first time to visit to Tokyo, it is recommended visiting the Imperial Palace, Meiji shrine, and Asakusa, Sensoji-temple
First, let’s visit the Imperial Palace, which is close to Tokyo Station, the center of Tokyo. The Imperial Palace has been the residence of emperors since the Emperor Meiji moved his residence from Kyoto in 1869 to here, used to be Edo castle of Tokugawa shogunnate, and is now the residence of the 126th Emperor Naruhito and his royal family.
Let’s take a look at the main hall, the most important building of the Imperial Palace. After World War II, His Majesty the Emperor became a symbol of the Japanese people and is no longer involved in national political affairs. However, the important ceremonies, including Imperial Investiture of Prime Minister and Chief Justice of Japan and State Banquet for State guest are hosted by His Majesty the Emperor and takes place in hall of the Imperial Palace.
The place where the main complex or circle, Honmaru, and donjon or castle tower, which were the center of Edo Castle, were now open to the public as the Imperial Palace East Gardens. Enter from the Otemon, which was the main gate of Edo Castle.
All the buildings where the main complex was located have been removed, and now only lawns grow. And, only the stone wall of the foundation remains in the place where the castle tower was.
In the place where second complex was, we can enjoy a typical Japanese garden in Edo style, strolling around pond. Although we can enjoy the appearance of the four seasons, early summer of irises is especially wonderful.
After enjoying the Japanese garden, let’s aim for Meiji shrine, which enshrines the Emperor Meiji who moved the Imperial Palace here.
Meiji Jingu, shrine, was built in 1920 to enshrine Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, who moved the Imperial Palace to Tokyo and made a great contribution to the modernization of Japan. Emperor Meiji has promoted the modernization of Japan and has been respected by many Japanese people, but he was especially loved by the citizens of Tokyo. The shrine was established by the plea of many citizens of Tokyo at the time of the collapse of Emperor Meiji.For this reason, it is the most popular shrine in Japan, which is visited by about 3 million worshipers during the New Year’s first three days.
On the right side of the road there are many sake barrel made of cedars and wrapped in rice straw. Japanese sake is a sacred drink dedicated to Deity and plays an important role in Shinto ritual.
On the left side, barrels of Burgundy wine are piled up. Emperor Meiji was a person who encouraged the modernization of Japan, and he actively adopted Western culture and loved wine as well as Japanese sake.
We came to the second torii, which is the largest wooden torii in Japan and is made of Japanese cypress. Every time we pass through the torii gate, our spirit is gradually purified.
I met a couple who will have a wedding ceremony in front of Deity. Weddings in Japan were generally Shinto style weddings, but recently, more and more couples are having weddings in Christian chapels.
There is an inner garden in Meiji shrine, and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery especially during the iris season. You can also enjoy my YouTube video of beautiful iris.
After seeing the beautiful irises, head to Asakusa. Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is one of the oldest temples in Tokyo and is also the most popular temple.
The firsat main gate is named after the god of thunder, Raijin and god of wind, Fujin, who protect this gate, in front written “Thunder gate” and back side is Wind and Thunder gods.
The wind god is located on the right side of the gate, and the thunder god is located on the left side. As the name suggests, it is the deity of nature originally from Shintoism which respect natural phenomenon.
After we pass through Thunder gate and enter into Nakamise-street. Approximately 250 meters from Thunder gate to Hozomon, this is one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan and has a history of 300 years, allowing worshipers and tourists to enjoy shopping for Buddhist tools, sweets and souvenirs.
Let’s go through the Hozomon Gate and enter the main precincts where the main hall and the five-storied pagoda are located. Hozomon means a gate for storing treasures, and precious treasures are stored on the second floor.
The main hall with a large roof can be seen in front. This roof uses 72,000 roof tiles, but by using strong and lightweight titanium, it becomes more resistant to earthquakes.
On the left we can see the five-storied pagoda, which enshrines the ashes of the Buddha donated by the Royal Temple in Sri Lanka. The five roof of the five-storied pagoda is said to represent the five major elements of the universe: earth, water, fire, wind, and space. Although Japan has many earthquakes, it is said that no five-storied pagoda has collapsed due to the earthquake, and this flexible structure is also used for the structure of the Tokyo Sky Tree.
Sensoji Temple has its origins that the village head, Hajino Nakatomo, built a small temple for the Holy Kanzeon Bodhisattva, which was found by the brothers of fishermen Hinokuma Hamanari, Takenari in nearby Sumida River in the middle of the 7th century. The statue of Kanzeon is not open to the public, but people pray for no disaster and good harvest, who is placed in a miniature temple under the forehead that says “No fear”.
Sanja matsuri, the most exciting festivals in Tokyo, of Asakusa Shrine, which enshrines two fishermen and the village head, who were involved in establishment of Sensoji Temple. Asakusa Shrine is built in the same precincts as Sensoji Temple. Let’s take a look at a digest of the Sanja Festival in 2022.
You can see the details of the Sanja Festival in my YouTube video, too.
You can also enjoy YouTube video for introducing these the most popular spots, here.