Yoyogi Park + Meiji Jingu

It’s a short walk from Shinjuku Gyoen to Yoyogi Park. More and more people are out and about now and when we get to the park the Saturday tour crowd is in full effect. The only way to get a shot of the entrance gate with no one in it is to get right up on it.

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It’s a nice wide open path through the woods down to the shrine approach. There is a little well spring where you use a ladle to dump water in your hands to wash them before and maybe also after entering the shrine. The main square is cool but the bigger buildings are under restoration or something and draped in graphic representations of what the buildings should look like. 2020 will be the 100th anniversary of the place.

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There are a lot of little kids in amazing traditional outfits around.  It’s adorable. I wonder if it’s a special day or holiday or something. The surrounding shrine area has a bunch of trinkets and good luck charms. You can buy pieces of wood to write prayers on and tie them up outside the temples. We find a little booth selling bags for kids with candy in them. I guess they’ve created a tradition to bring kids here for their 3, 5, and 7th birthdays. Probably a good little money and memory maker.

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There’s a bunch of sake on display too

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Queenie helps out with a group photo

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Ok we got the gist of it and are about to leave. A little old guy comes straight up to me and says “15 minutes. One five minutes”, “15 minutes?”, “Yes, wedding march. The drums. Poom Poom Poom. Wedding march”, “Ah, ok. Arigato.” He bows a bit but he seems really interested in talking to me. I smile politely and encourage him. “You are famous person”, “I am?”, You know this song?” and he starts singing to me, “You are so beautiful. You are so beautiful, to me”, “Oh yeah… yeah who is that again…” I’m drawing a blank so he just keeps singing it to me which is pretty endearing, “You are so beautiful, to me”. “Ahhhhh, Joe Cocker?”, “Yes! Yes! Joe Cocker! You like Joe Cocker!”, “I look like Joe Cocker?”, “Yes! Yes you see” and he bows politely and backs away smiling.

Queenie has to turn away while she laughs so she doesn’t insult him, “Oh Bee, you look like a 70s rock star”, “I think I’m just a white guy with long hair. I don’t look anything like Joe Cocker.”, “Oh no?” and Queenie shows me a pic. Hmmm not really. A couple more pics in and… maaaaaaybe?

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We wait 15 minutes and sure enough the Joe Cocker Fan was right. Poom Poom start the drums and then a wedding procession slowly enters into the main temple grounds. Since we had forewarning we have a prime vantage point. And that’s how I became a professional Japanese wedding photographer.

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Well that was fun. It’s starting to rain a little bit now (oh, apparently we just missed a “super typhoon” that happened before we landed). There’s a little shrine water well where you take a ladle and wash your hands and rinse your mouth. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to do this before or after the temple. Or both. We do it now to be respectful.

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Down the path a ways and we come to some stairs. There’s a little booth and an entrance fee to another section. looks like some gardens. Since we have a wifi box we’re entitled to a little tourist cheating and we just look up what the gardens look like. It’s starting to rain and we’re getting a bit hungry so we want to know if this is a must see attraction. Looks decent, basically a pond area. Nah, we agree it’s getting closer to beer o’clock.

Further down the path are some wine barrels donated to the shrine and some barrels of sake wrapped in straw. It’s official, we need drinks now.

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Cool spot. We continue our city walk down through the south entrance and into the Shibuya area.

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