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■ Featuring "Shrines," Dec. 31 to Jan. 30







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Meiji Jingu Shrine
Surrounded by Woods of Eternity
Date:01, Jan, 2019
Investigated and Written by Misaka Youhei
About our introductory articles


Happy new year, everyone. In Japan, on New Year's Day, most visit shrines for Hatsumode. Have you ever visited a shrine? What? Really? Oh... well, I got it. Life goes on.

We can find the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo. It is popular many visit there for Hatsumode every year. I have been there only once. It felt so good.

Why do they call it Meiji Jingu Shrine? you might wonder. It was founded for enshrining the Emperor Meiji. He passed away in 1912. The body was buried in Kyoto, but Tokyo people longed to deify him in Tokyo. In 1914, the Emperor Taisho accepted their longing. Then, the Shrine was founded in 1920.



Meiji Jingu Shrine
Source: 2018 Meiji Shrine.jpg
from the Japanese Wikipedia
(Photed in 2018 October)

Stepping in, I was kind of surprised at the silence. Surrounded by woods, I walked on a gray road in spring. Of course, a lot of sightseers were there with us. Mysteriouly, however, I didn't feel them noisy although at the center of a big city Tokyo.



The Aerial Photograph
Source: Meiji jingu yoyogi park 1989 air.jpg
from the Japanese Wikipedia
(Photed in 1989)

The Aerial Photograph shows you the Shrine is surrounded by woods. In other words, a forest includes the Shrine. Why is such a forest there at the center of a big town? you might wonder.

The forest is called Woods of Eternity. It was planned by Honda Seiroku, a Japanese dendrologist. He longed to create a forest that would be completed 100 years later. Of course, he would pass away before checking the fruit. He began to create the forest for future people. It is said that he called the forest Woods of Eternity.

When it was founded, the area was wasteland. It's not a mystery. In the Edo era, they had usually used lots of woods for an energy source. Today we use oil instead of woods. So it is said that Japan had a lot of wild areas in the Meiji era. I guess Honda was hopeful about the future woods in those days.



Meiji Jingu Shrine's Garden
Source: Meiji-Shrine-Innergarden-02.jpg
from the Japanese Wikipedia
(Photed on June 19, 2010)

When it was founded, it is said that they planted about 100,000 trees. Today it has less than 40,000. It doesn't mean that somebody wrongfully cut the woods. Nature made it. While trees grow up, some naturally die. What does it mean? The forest is an example which shows it has been like that when Tokyo has a forest.

Why do they like to visit there? I believe we can be in a calm frame of mind when surrounded by a silent forest. It is so comfortable, and then I think countless sightseers are always there. I guess so by my actual visiting.

We can say it is a man-made forest. When we are willing to, we can create such a forest in other prefectures of Japan like Osaka and Aichi. However, I guess it is difficult to plan for people 100 years later. Capitalists will say it is preety silly because it won't be of benefit to them if they invest.

Resources are giving out, however, and population is on the decrease in Japan. We are going to face a lot of difficulties we have never experienced. The Shrine and the forest show something to a question "What can we give to the future people?" in my personal opinion. How do you think?






 

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