Exploring the Meiji Jingu

This article was written by Phin Upham

The Japanese religion of Shinto is the ancient religion of the region. It is deeply connected to the Japanese way of life, emphasizing a sincere heart or “magokoro.” There are temples all over Japan where people can pray and meditate, hoping to achieve the Shinto value of harmony with nature. This sense of divinity comes from what the Japanese people call “kami” which are an infinite number of spirits that dwell in the human realm. Some kami, like the emperor and empress of Meiji, have temples erected to pay homage.

After their deaths in the early 1900s, the people of Japan wanted to commemorate the values they upheld, and so they built a shrine with a donation of 100,000 trees from all over the world. The forest was meant to house the souls of the emperor and empress of Meiji, amongst trees that were sincerely planted by hand. Over time, the man-made forest became indistinguishable from a natural forest. Many plants thrive on this self-renewing land, with endangered animals flocking to the region as well.

Travelers can study Japanese Budo, or martial disciplines, from within Meiji Jingu. Built in 1973, Shiseikan Budo promotes moral health and discipline through these ancient Japanese arts. Aside from practical classes that promote physical skills, routine lectures are given to children and adults on the history of Budo and its usage as a moral compass.

Be sure to attend the two o’clock prayer ceremony each afternoon, where people make offerings of food and pray for world peace. It’s a chance to feel centered, a rare opportunity in today’s always-on society.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.

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