Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine famous as the place where the Meiji Era Empress and Emperor’s souls are enshrined. It is a popular place for traditional weddings and one can often be seen. It is a lovely place to visit in the midst of the Tokyo madness. It is a green oasis of shade and birdsong. It is located at Harajuku station on JR or Meiji jingumae on the Chiyoda Subway line.
The shrine itself is a playground rich with material for the snappy happy like myself but today I want to show some restraint and focus on the Sake Barrels that can be seen on the walk into the shrine and more specifically the beautiful artwork and symbolism on them.
Brief Background information about Sake and the Shinto religion
Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan and Sake, rice wine is closely linked to the religion and used in many ceremonies, in fact it is as if the two are inseparable. Jichinsai or “ground purification ritual” that is carried out prior to the construction of any form of building is one of the basic bread and butter ceremonies performed by Shinto priests. In the jichinsai a liberal amount of sake is sprinkled over the site. Similarly sake is poured into water to pacify the gods of the sea and rivers by fishermen. Sake is has an important role in Wedding and New Year ceremonies too. Sake, salt and water are considered all things used to purify things for religious purposes.
For more information about the reasons the barrels are at the shrine and the ceremonial uses of sake in the Shinto religion please see the following link. It is an excellent column on all things Japanese and is called “Ask Alice”
For an explanation of the pictures and symbolism used on these visually stunning barrels please check out my photo gallery and the captions attached.
Bottoms up and “kanpai”
Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu
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