Click any thumbnail to see the bigger version of that picture. The majority of these pictures are 800x600 pixels in size. Unless otherwise indicated, all pictures were taken with my Hewlett-Packard Photosmart 315 digital camera.
Meiji ShrineOn Friday (Day Three), I went with my mom and another chorus member to the Meiji Shrine, a Shinto temple and shrine and garden created in honor of Emperor Meiji (1868-1912) and his wife Empress Haruko.
One of the side doors on the gatehouse. We were told that the four round buttons or studs on the door are an ancient code meaning that the occupants of the temple will feed and house any traveler who happens by. Some Japanese houses have this symbol on their doors as well.
At one side of the courtyard is a huge tree surrounded by this wooden gate hung with small pieces of wood. For a small fee you can buy a piece of wood, write your wishes or prayers on it, and hang it here. The priests of the temple will then include your wishes in their daily prayers. It's hard to tell from this picture, but we saw votive messages written in many languages and conveying many different desires -- some heartfelt and moving, some humorous, some simply bizarre.
The GardenThe garden area of the Meiji Shrine was designed by Empress Haruko, who liked to spend a lot of time there. Her iris garden is world-renowned and supposedly very beautiful when all the irises are in bloom. Unfortunately it was winter when we visited, so there were no irises, but the gardens were still beautiful.
This elegant structure is actually designed to support a damaged or elderly tree. It's hard to tell from this picture, but the system of ropes and bamboo helps to hold the tree up and keep it from collapsing.
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