I was walking around Shinjuku, and STUMBLED onto Meiji Shrine. Whoops.
Then I wandered inside and decided to walk on the forest trails instead of heading straight into the shrine grounds ('saving the best for last' mentality, I guess)
Then I got lost again. I couldn't have cared less.
Being enveloped in such a beautiful natural setting in the middle of one of the most densely populated cities on the planet was mind-boggling to me. It felt like I had accidentally stepped through a portal and was sent back in time before cars, roads, metropolises... It was the most calming two hour walk of my life. I couldn't hear the city. People on the trails were scarce. The loudest thing in that forest was me (until a cicada started yelling)
Then I found the shrine itself. Again, by accident.
This place is HUGE. There is no other word for it. Huge is the most accurate word for Meiji Shrine that I can think of. The torii gates - huge. The grounds themselves - huge. The main temple complex (most of which visitors aren't allowed to enter) - huge; and as huge and awe-inspiring as it was, I never once felt unwelcome.
You know that feeling you get when you enter a place with so much history and importance that the minute your foot is across the threshold you suddenly feel like an interloper? Almost like you feel as if you are trespassing? I feel that way when I enter many places; ruins, churches, certain peoples' homes...
But Meiji calmed that feeling in me almost instantly. I felt welcome and... in a weirdly spiritual way, protected. I felt as if I could have just sat down on the white stones of the courtyard and stayed there all day. I regretted not bringing a book. Or a better camera.
Meiji Shine is one of those rare places where you don't go there to see or do things; you go to just be there. Exist in the space between urban and natural, past and present, material and spiritual... and simply be.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.