Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cherry Blossoms, Shinguku Gyoen, Meiji Shrine and Harajuku

Until I saw the cherry blossoms yesterday, I had forgotten that Japan was famous for it's Cherry Blossom Festivals. Global warming has in fact, helped (selfishly) the trees are bloom earlier than normal this year.
Tokyo has beautiful parks! We started the morning getting lost, typically on our way to Shinguku Goyen, where I had read is a spectacular spot to spend part of the day. It did not disappoint. This park is regarded as being one of the most important gardens in Japan. Established on the site of an old Edo Era mansion house in 1906 (Meiji Era)  Shinjuku Gyoen boasts over seventy five different species of cherry tree's inside, as well as a large formal Japanese Garden. Not all of the trees were in bloom yet and I don't know if my heart could have taken it, if they were. Despite the frigid weather, I could have stayed all day.

 After basking in all of the glory of being in such a wonderful park, we headed toward Meiji Gyoen, where the Meiji Jingu Shrine (Shinto) is located in a forest that covers an area of 170 acres. This area is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established. Shinto is the major religion in Japan and the shrine is an active one. We were honored and delighted to see a wedding processional while there.

Inside the Shrine
The happy couple.
Prayers dedicated at the Shrine
Barrels of Saki for the shrine.
 After all this beauty and spirituality, we headed off to Harajuku and I knew we weren't in Kansas anymore!

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