This month's highlights



Many Japanese go on a “first shrine/ temple visit of the year” during the New Year season, which is called Hatsumode. During the first three days of 2017, Meiji Jingu received approximately 3 million visitors. Meiji Jingu holds the record for the largest number of New Year visitors for the last 36 years in Japan. Would you like to come for a New Year shrine visit and experience some Japanese culture?
At the amulet offices, you will now find not only the usual talismans and lucky charms, but also New Year items, such as bells (Eto-suzu) and votive tablets (Eto-ema) featuring New Year’ s zodiac animal (the dog).

Zodiac votive tablet            Zodiac bell

Kodama (“tree spirit” or “echo”) is a wooden bell for good fortune made from sacred trees which have fulfilled their task of guarding the shrine precincts.

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Kodama Sowa-mamori

Sowa-mamori is a two-in-one amulet for harmony in marriage, the name of which was inspired by the phrase “as husbands and wives be harmonious” from the Imperial Rescript on Education issued by Emperor Meiji. With reference to the “husband and wife camphor trees” in front of the main shrine building, this amulet has been impregnated with the aroma of the shrine’s camphor trees.

Meiji Jingu Spring Grand Festival 2017

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IIt is the season of the Meiji Jingu Spring Grand Festival. From April 29th to May 3rd, Meiji Jingu will hold several solemn Shinto ceremonies including one of the largest rituals of the year at Meiji Jingu. These rituals are scheduled for 10 am and 2 pm on May 2nd, and the largest one for 10 am on May 3rd. Members of the Sukeikai, an organization which was established in 1946 for paying respect to the enshrined Kami and for supporting Meiji Jingu, attend those rituals in the inner courtyard of the main shrine buildings. Shrine maidens will perform “Urayasu-no-Mai”, a Kagura(sacred dance) based on a poem which Emperor Showa, the last Emperor before the current Emperor, wrote praying for world-wide peace and wishing that nothing disturb the world’s tranquility :

To all deities
Of heaven and earth I pray
For a tranquil world
Without disturbances
-Like the sea in the morning.

On the occasion of this festival, various Japanese traditional performing arts are performed in honour of the deities on the stage in front of the main shrine building. Everyone is welcome to observe these performances such as Bugaku(ancient imperial court music), Hogaku and Hobu(classical Japanese dance), Noh and Kyogen(classical Japanese theatre), Sankyoku(traditional Japanese music), and Satsuma biwa(Japanese lute).

April 29, Saturday 11:00- Bugaku [ancient imperial court music]
May 2, Tuesday 10:00- Morning Ceremony
11:45- Noh, Kyogen [classical Japanese dance]
14:00- Afternoon Ceremony
15:45- Hogaku, Hobu [classical Japanese theatre]
May 3, Wednesday 10:00- Grand Ceremony
12:00- Sankyoku [traditional Japanese music]
14:30- Satsuma biwa [Japanese lute]

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Bugaku Noh

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Kyogen Hogaku, Hobu

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Sankyoku Satsuma biwa

“Gagaku and Budo”—Performances receive high acclaim in three European countries

From 26 January to 9 February 2017, Meiji Jingu sent the delegation of 18 (Head: Mr. Masahiro Sato, Director of the Meiji Jingu Intercultural Research Institute), including priests and shrine maidens as well as the Director of the Shiseikan Budojo, visited Belgium, Italy, with which Japan celebrated 150 years of friendship in 2016, and Poland. Gagaku and budo performances were held in six cities in these three countries, through which Japanese culture and its spirit were showcased to the audiences.

These performances included a screening of the DVD, “Meiji Jingu: Shinto no Yashiro,” an explanation of gagaku, performances of gagaku, an explanation of budo, and martial arts demonstrations. The presenters included university professors with links to Japan as well as a former ambassador to Japan. Disciples who are members of ISBA also came together from various parts of Europe to participate and assist the martial arts demonstrations.

The performances received high acclaim from the audiences in the respective countries. The comments received included, “I was amazed at how unique and profound Japanese culture is,” “I was surprised at how beautiful the music and movements were,” “This was on a different level from the budo that I know about,” and “I was simply moved and impressed.”

ISBA: International Shiseikan Budo Association, an organization comprising more than 2,000 members from 45 dojo in 12 countries.

28 January (Saturday), performance in Ghent (Theater Tinnenpot)
Master Araya demonstrating martial arts with members of ISBA  

29 January (Sunday), performance in Brussels (Bozar)
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Bugaku, “Ran-ryo-ou” ©Michèle DC Taking a bow at the end of the martial arts demonstration ©Michèle DC

写真 Speech by the head of delegation Mr. Sato ©Michèle DC 

Article of the Embassy of Japan in Belgium (in Japanese)

31 January (Tuesday), performance in Milan (Triennale Teatro dell’Arte)
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Kangen, “Hyojo Etenraku” Kagura, “Yoyogi no Mai”

Taking the curtain call together   

Information about the performance at Triennale Teatro dell’Arte

2 February (Thursday), performance in Rome (Japan Cultural Institute in Rome)
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Queues of people before the performance. There were even audiences who could not get seats and watched the performance standing. The stage was close to the audience seats, creating a sense of unity.

Information about the performance at the Japan Cultural Institute in Rome

5 February (Sunday), performance in Krakow (Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology)
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The room is filled with tension during the tachiai performance The crowd is drawn into the dance and music

The venue was also packed with local audiences  

Information about the performance at Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology

7 February (Tuesday), performance in Warsaw (Lazienki Park)
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Coinciding with the performance, photographs of Meiji Jingu were displayed at the entrance to Lazienki Park.  Introduction and explanation of gagaku instruments

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"Harai no Tachi" by Master Araya Curtain call at the final performance

Article of Lazienki Park

The Japan Foundation, Toshiba International Foundation, The Nippon Foundation, The Tokyo Club, Mizuho Bank, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Aichi Sangyo, Kikkoman, Toyota, IDEA Consultants, KOTOBUKI SEATING, Toyota Industries, The Japan-Belgium Society, Nippon Express

Embassy of Japan in Belgium, Embassy of Japan in Italy, Embassy of Japan in Poland, Camera di Commercio e Industria Giapponese in Italia, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Poland, Japanese Club Poland

Belgium-Japan Association and Chamber of Commerce, City of Ghent, Ghent University, The Japan Cultural Institute in Rome, Change Performing Arts, CRT/Teatro dell’Arte, Triennale di Milano, Lazienki Park, Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology

Empress Shoken:The Tender Empress of the Meiji Period


Period March 4 to April 23
Venue Tresure Museum Annex (Bunkakan)
Hours 9 am to 4:00 pm
(Last admissions are 30 minutes prior to closing time.)

Contribution for maintenance
500 yen