WE ARE BACK!!! Reserve your spot in our next tour from our new Tour Calendar!

Meiji Shrine and Harajuku



  • 2018.04.03

Under the perfect warm weather, we welcomed 35 guests!! They are from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Singapore and US. The guests were separated into five groups so that eleven tour guides could have closer communication with each guest in small groups. We got together in front of the Ichino Torii Gate located right across the tiny bridge over JR Harajuku station, and began the tour on time, 10 am. After learning about how to go through “torii,” i.e. to stop to bow for a moment before cross underneath, we had a nice walk on gravel path surrounded by fresh green forests toward the main shrine building. On the way, we explained various aspects of Japanese culture such as the imperial families, sake barrels and use of sake for spiritual purification, prayers crowd on new year’s eve, etc. Before going into the main shrine, the guests could experience how to wash their hands to purify their hands and mouth. Then inside, we prayed together to the evergreen tree branch called Sakaki in Japanese, whose green leaves have sharp top to receive God’s bless from the upper world. The guests could also learn the precise manner of […]


  • 2018.03.19

Thank you for joining our tour at Meiji Shrine and Harajuku on March 18. We had 22 guests  from America, Canada, Italy, Sweden, India and Malaysia. I hope all of you enjoyed our walking tour  in lovely Spring weather. Meiji Shrine is known for the most popular shrine with over three million visitors during the new year days. The shrine is dedicated to the souls of Emperior Meiji and Empress Shoken. The Shrine has unique omikuji. Omikuji is ramdomly drawn fortune-telling papers. However, Meiji shrine’s omikuji is different and particular. While other places provide with predictions ranging from the best luck to the worst luck, people here draw a poem composed by Emperior Meiji and Empress Shoken. Omikuji does not say anything good or bad and has waka in stead. Waka is the traditional Japanese poems of 31 syllables in the pattern 5-7-5-7-7. The Emperior and Empress are the experts of waka and left many poems to later generations. There are about 100,000 made by the Emperior and about 30,000 by the Empress. Although omikuji has over a millenium of history, Meiji Shrine had no omikuji until WWⅡ partly because it was a state owned entity but after the war the […]


  • 2018.03.06

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in Harajuku area. On that day, March 4, we were honored to welcome 14 guests to our walking tour. Those people came from different corners of the world, including Israel, Canada, U.S.A, Argentina, Spain and Sweden. We were greeted by an amazingly warmer temperature than the previous days. There was a breakthrough in the cool temperature and the weather seemed to have finally improved. Our tour started in front of a Tori or a Shinto Shrine gate. It has welcomed and looked down upon us, 14 Harajuku lovers and the guides, as we started off our 90-minute walking tour.   By the time we have concluded that day’s Harajuku walking tour, the temperature seemingly ended up reaching around 20 degrees. When it comes to Ume, or Japanese apricot, Yushima Tenmangu is one of the most notable Shinto shrines in Tokyo, Japan. It is easily accessible from the Harajuku areas. It also just takes 30 minutes via a train from our guide spot to the said shrine. This shrine is dedicated to the “God of Learning” and many believers visit this sacred place to give offerings and receive blessings from the divine […]

Tour Report on February 4, 2018 at Meiji Shrine and Harajuku

  • 2018.02.06

Thank you very much for joining our regular tour on February 4.  We welcomed guests from Taiwan and the US.  We hope all enjoyed walking with us. Anyways, did anyone eat “Eho-maki”, the thick sushi rolls on February 3rd, the Setsubun day ? You might find them sold at supermarkets or convenience stores at that time. Eho literally means the good luck direction, and Eho-maki is believed to bring good fortune if eaten while facing the year’s eho. While you eat Eho-maki, you must be silent, look in the year’s good luck direction (south-southeast in 2018), and make a wish. Eho-maki usually have seven ingredients such as cucumber, sweet omelet, shiitake mushroom and eel after the Seven Deities of Good Luck. Eho-maki are about 8-10cm long and should not be cut because they reflect the idea of forming good relationships. Why not try our traditional dishes during your staying? (Hisako)

Tour Report on January 21,2018 at Meiji Shrine and Harajuku

  • 2018.01.22

Many thanks for joining our tour to Meiji Shrine and Harajuku area on January 21. The weather was unusually mild and comfortable in the middle of winter. We welcomed eight guests from America,Australia,Israel,Canada and Thailand. I hope you enjoyed walking with us. On our tour route there is lovely Ota Memorial Museum of Art in Harajuku. It is located at the quiet place between Takeshita Street and Omotesanso street. This museum is one of the most outstanding museums specializing in Ukiyo-e woodblock printing in Japan. The museum opened in 1980 and has 12,000 pieces which late Seizo Ohta, former president of a large insurance company collected through his life. They change the exhibition every month.   The current performance displays the new forms of Ukiyo-e art in the turbulent transitional period between the end of the Edo and the beginning of the Meiji Period when Japan was becoming modern and industrialized. 150 pieces are shown in the light of the 150th year from the Meiji Restoration which continues until February 25. Ukiyo-e is a style of woodblock printing created and developed in Japan about 300 years ago during the Edo period. ‘uki’ means floating, ‘yo’ means world and ‘e’ means picture. […]

Tour Report: January 7, 2018 (Meiji Shrine and Harajuku)

  • 2018.01.11

Thank you for joining our first Meiji Shrine and Harajuku tour of the year! This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, or the transition of political power from the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Meiji Constitutional Monarchy. The Shoguns had virtually closed down the country for over 250 years, until in the year 1868 when the Emperor took over and eventually opened the county to learn modern technology and culture from western powers. I, among many other people, find this transition very interesting, and it is something I like to share with guests who join our tour. Meiji Shrine built to commemorate the Meiji Emperor is an ideal location for such conversation. It being the final days of the New Year season, there were still many people at the Meiji Shrine for “Hatsu Moude” or the first visit of the year to shrines to wish for good luck. There were also various food stalls out that we don’t normally see, and our guests were quick to try some bites. On the second leg of the tour we strolled around Takeshita-dori street and Omote Sando street. This area has long been where the latest pop culture are born. There is always something new to find […]

Tour Report on 17 December 2017, Meiji-Gingu Shrine and Harajuku-Omotesando district

  • 2017.12.18

Many thanks to the guests joining this tour! That was the fifth and last tour to the Meiji Jingu Shrine and Harajuku-Omotesando district this year. In the morning we welcomed 5 guests from Russia, New York, and Singapore. It was so clear that from the rooftop of the building you could view Mt. Fuji, whose height is 3776 meters and which is 100 kilometers away from Tokyo. But it was very cold. In this tour, you could find Meiji-Shrine, very traditional Japanese building and see traditional ceremonies such as Shinto wedding. But outside of the shrine is very much westernized so that you could view very beautiful Christmas illumination on the Omotesando Street. 1500 illuminated trees light up the shopping street which big-name brand shops line up along the trees until Christmas day.  Some shops decorate their show-windows with Christmas trees. French people living in Tokyo call the street, Mini-Les Champs Elysees. In fact, it looks like that especially at night. Omotesando is as famous as Ginza, the biggest shopping district in Tokyo. That matter is related to late Meiji Emperor enshrined in the shrine because he was enthusiastic in modernizing Japan by importing western cultures to His nation. Preserving […]

Tour Report on December 3, 2017 in Harajyuku areas.

  • 2017.12.05

Thank you for joining the Tokyo Free Walking Tour. December 3rd had a fairly pleasant weather and moderate temperature. We welcomed around 15 guests coming from different corners of the world — USA, Germany, China, Australia and Singapore. This is the fourth tour in the locations of Meiji Jingu and Takeshita Street, which is still held on trial basis. We, from the Tokyo Walking Tour, greatly appreciate your attendance, which is steadily increasing in number. Majestically nested in an evergreen forest and enclosed by fresh air, the Meiji Jingu or Meiji Shrine is one of the most notable shrines in the city of Tokyo. Although it is easily accessible from Tokyo’s busiest districts like Shinjuku and Shibuya, this location remains as a truly peaceful and sacred place of worship. However, during the month of December, the otherwise serene Meiji Jingu transforms into a busy area, as it is the season to prepare in welcoming visitors for Hatsumode. Hatsumode literally means “the first visit to a Buddhist temple or Shinto Shrine in the first few days of the new year”. It is a tradition among Japanese people to visit these religious buildings and to pray to deities in hopes of good […]

Tour Report on November 5, 2017 at Meiji Shrine and Harajuku

  • 2017.11.06

Thank you, all of you, for accompanying us on our tour to Meiji Shrine and Harajuku district on November 5. It was absolutely wonderful weather in autumn. We welcomed 14 guests from Canada, Brazil, Italy, UK, Austria, Belgium and Russia. Four of the participants had kindly joined our tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace the day before which we appreciate. We enjoyed watching a lot of children wearing cute clothing, wedding parades and the chrysanthemum display on the way to the main building. November 15  is Shichi-Go-San(7-5-3) Day to pray for the growth of children of three, five and seven years of age. Boys and girls of three, boys of five and girls of seven are taken principally to the Shinto shrines such as Meiji Shrine by their parents to give thanks and blessings for the future. The girls we saw wearing pretty kimono and boys in hakama(divided skirts) were to take purification rituals. In the old days infant death rates were high, so those ages were uncertain and critical in a child life. In fact Shichi-Go-San was a milestone in the health of children. Shichi-Go-San is said to have 1,000 year history. The fifth Shogun Tsunayoshi […]

Tour Report on October 29, 2017, Meiji Jingu & Takeshita Street

  • 2017.10.31

Thank you for joining Tokyo Free Walking Tour for Meiji Shinto Shrine&Takeshita Street area. On that day, 29 October, we welcomed four guests; U.K., South Africa, Canada, Singapore and Brazil. We really appreciate your participation despite a terrible weather condition. Typhoon number 22, internationally called as typhoon Saola, was heading to the direction of the sea on the east side of Japan. Gradually decreasing in strength and intensity, Saola left torrential rain in Tokyo, since early morning, and was expected to head to the northern part of Japan. Even under the circumstances of rain and cloudy skies, we still conducted our tour. We started the tour in front of a big Tori, or a Shinto shrine gate. We proceeded to the main shrine building of the Meiji Shinto Shrine. On our way, we encountered some displays in the shrine compound. One was a showcase featuring Kiku, or Chrysanthemum. The other display showcased bonsai plants, or miniaturized trees. These plants gave us fairly adequate amounts of topics that we used to introduce different aspects of Japanese culture. Immediately before reaching the shrine’s main building, there was a heavy downpour. We waited for the rain to stop while spending time in the […]

1 7 8