Translated by MATCHA
The Other Flower Of Early Summer: Japanese Irises At Meiji Jingu Gyoen
Did you know that, besides its famous shrine, Meiji Jingu Shrine is also home to a stunning early summer garden? In this article we visit this spot to take in the sight of Japanese irises.
Written by MATCHA
Have you ever encountered a breathtaking view like this before?
Maybe in places like Kyoto, or outside of Tokyo. But this stunning spot is actually located just a short distance away from Harajuku Station.
Meiji Jingu Shrine is a ten minute stroll from Harajuku Station, and is a peaceful, natural oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the Tokyo Metropolis. Here, during the early summer, you will find an impressive garden where brilliant purple irises spread out all around you.
What is Meiji Jingu Shrine?
Meiji Jingu Shrine is an incredibly popular shrine famous for its hatsumode every year, and is where the Meiji Emperor and Empress Shoken are enshrined. You will surely have seen it before if you have checked out any guidebooks for Tokyo or Harajuku before.
This spacious plot of land extends some 700,000 square meters and contains nearly 250 different varieties of plants, which gives it the atmosphere of a natural forest. Once you step inside this area, you will soon forget that you are mere meters from downtown Tokyo.
Brochures by the Entrance
As a forest, it is not always easy for first time visitors to navigate their way through the dense cover of trees.
After you have walked inside, you will see an area with brochures on a shelf. Please check them out, there is a walking guide and other helpful pamphlets in English and other languages here as well. The cost to enter the garden is 500 yen, although visiting the shrine itself is free.
For your information, the nearest entrance from Harajuku is this one, the East Gate (Higashimon).
Irises in Meiji Jingu Gyoen
After getting your brochures, it's time to head out to see the irises. Walk along the leftmost path and...
continue along following the directions provided by the signs.
And then suddenly, you will find yourself in a garden full of purple flowers!
There are gradiations of purple, from pale white to deep rich eggplant all around!
It's truly a magical sight to be surrounded by these blossoms.
Can you see the brown sticks with Japanese writing on them? These are nameplates that explain what each type of iris is in the garden. If you look through your brochure, you will find these same explanations in English as well.
There's a man sitting in front of this garden. I wonder what he's drawing?
The formal name of this garden is actually, Meiji Jingu Gyoen Shobuda, which means Meiji Shrine Park Iris Field in English. These beautiful flowers are at their peak around mid-June, during tsuyu, or the rainy season.
While it is nice to visit here on a sunny day, coming on a rainy one can be just a lovely. Taking a break in one of these small huts as you watch the flowers is a very peaceful and relaxing way to pass the time.
In the early morning, you may see some staff out tidying up the garden. This garden was first formed in 1893 for Empress Shoken, and although she passed away in 1914, her garden has lived on and inspired many with its incredible array of purple blooms.
An Oasis in the Metropolis
The songs of birds, rustling leaves, and other sounds of nature will surround you while you visit this shrine, but the closer you come to exits, the sounds of the city will start to flood your ears once more - such as the calls of "Harajuku Station" as the trains approach.
Despite its proximity to the city, this is the perfect place to visit come rain or shine in mid-June.
And personally, I would definitely visit on a rainy day.
Meiji Jingu Gyoen Shobuda
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Yoyogi, Kamizono-cho 1-1
Hours: May 9:00-16:30 (North gate only), June 8:00-17:00 (18:00 on weekends; east gate closes at 16:30)
Admission: Shrine is free but garden is 500 yen
Credit Cards: Unavailable
Language: Japanese *English Brochures available
Nearest Station: JR Harajuku Station, Meiji-jingumae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda and Fukutoshin lines)
Access: 1 minute walk from South Exit 1 of Harajuku Station to entrance, 10 minute walk from entrance to garden