The Kami enshrined at Meiji Jingu are the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
Emperor Meiji (The 122nd Emperor of Japan)
Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) is the 122nd emperor of Japan (the current Emperor is the 126th emperor). He ascended to the throne in 1867. When Japan was facing unprecedented conditions such as the opening of the country to the world after its long isolation and the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Emperor Meiji took the initiative to promote friendship with other countries, and to introduce Western civilization and developed technology from overseas while preserving Japanese identity, and thus laid the foundations of modern Japan.
Empress Shoken (The consort of Emperor Meiji)
Empress Shoken (1850-1914) not only supported the Emperor behind the scenes but also devoted herself to promoting national welfare and women's education. She was also concerned about world affairs, and she donated a fund, named after her as the Empress Shoken Fund, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has been used for international welfare activities until today.
The divine virtues of the enshrined deities include their achievements and texts they issued such as edicts and poems.
(Photo: Poems by Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, drawn from Meiji Jingu's Omikuji)
Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken excelled in writing Waka (traditional Japanese poems of 31 syllables in the pattern 5-7-5-7-7).
The Emperor and the Empress composed about 100,000 Waka and 30,000 Waka respectively, expressing from expressing their feelings from their hearts towards the world, country and the people, as well as ethical thoughts, etc.
Visitors can draw a poem from 30 selected poems (with English translation and explanation) from the "Omikuji" box around the main sanctuary.
The Charter Oath in Five Articles:
On the occasion of the so-called Meiji Restoration in 1868, Emperor Meiji proclaimed the Charter Oath in Five Articles in front of the kami (spirits, deities) as the new guideline for building a new Japan.
The Charter Oath in Five Articles
Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters shall be decided by general discussion based on public mind.
All people, regardless of their respective status in society, shall unite their hearts and minds, and vigorously contribute to the development of the country.
It shall be ensured that all people, officials, civilian or military as well as the general public, may accomplish their personal calling and not lose their spirit for life.
Out-dated and harmful practices should be abolished, and everything shall be based on universal principles.
The nation's core shall be vitalized by gathering knowledge from all over the world, while cherishing our beautiful culture and tradition centering the Emperor.
As our country is facing a situation which imposes imminent and unprecedented changes, I Myself, taking the initiative, pledge to all deities to firmly establish these policies, and I am determined to secure the path of further stability and development of the whole nation. Therefore, also the people, knowing the importance of the aim of this oath, should be encouraged to join their hearts and minds, and make their utmost effort
March 14, 1868 (proclaimed by Emperor Meiji)
(Photo: Mural at Kaigakan, inside Gaien, depicting the proclamation of the Charter Oath in Five Articles)
At that period when this oath was issued, Japan was facing unprecedented political, social and cultural changes such as the opening of the country after more than 200 years isolation policy (during the Edo Era), the influx of Western culture, thoughts and technologies, and the establishment of a modern governmental system with the emperor at its center by abolishing the feudal system led by the shogunate.
Against this historical background, in order to build up Japan as a modern state while honouring the Japanese traditional way of thinking, this Charter Oath became the foundation of modern Japan emphasizing the importance of making decisions by general discussion based on public mind, of pursuing one's own calling, of uniting hearts and making efforts to develop the nation, of abolishing out-dated and harmful practices, and of gathering knowledge from all over the world.
The Imperial Rescript on Education:
Emperor Meiji was deeply concerned about the establishment of a national education system and the promotion of morality in order to construct the modern Japan. Thus, the "Imperial Rescript on Education" was issued to illustrate the moral principles that each citizen should follow.
(Photo: The text of the Imperial Rescript on Education with Imperial sign and seal)
English translation of the Imperial Rescript on Education:
Know ye, Our subjects:
Our Imperial Ancestors have founded Our Empire on a basis broad and everlasting and have deeply and firmly implanted virtue; Our subjects ever united in loyalty and filial piety have from generation to generation illustrated the beauty thereof. This is the glory of the fundamental character of Our Empire, and herein also lies the source of Our education. Ye, Our subjects, be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters; as husbands and wives be harmonious, as friends true; bear yourselves in modesty and moderation; extend your benevolence to all; pursue learning and cultivate arts, and thereby develop intellectual faculties and perfect moral powers; furthermore advance public good and promote common interests; always respect the Constitution and observe the laws; should emergency arise, offer yourselves courageously to the State; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth. So shall ye not only be Our good and faithful subjects, but render illustrious the best traditions of your forefathers. The Way here set forth is indeed the teaching bequeathed by Our Imperial Ancestors, to be observed alike by Their Descendants and the subjects, infallible for all ages and true in all places. It is Our wish to lay it to heart in all reverence, in common with you, Our subjects, that we may thus attain to the same virtue.
The 30th day of the 10th month of the 23rd year of Meiji.
(Imperial Sign Manual. Imperial Seal.)