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Happy Birthday, Mr Meiji!

November 02, 2015
Meiji Shrine Autumn Festival
Forget what you know about Tokyo as it is today. Disremember those candy-coloured cosplay characters and consign to oblivion its Blade Runner-esque skyline – you’re going back in time. Well, almost.

From 1 to 3 November, Meiji Jingu and its environs come over all old-school in celebration of the 163rd anniversary of the birthday of Emperor Meiji.

Locals and travellers alike flock to the usually serene spot to fete the achievements of the former Nippon noble – known by some as the last samurai – who oversaw the country’s progression from feudal state to world power.

Over the course of three days, visitors to the shrine can feast their eyes on traditional Japanese arts. The annual bash kicks off with a hogaku and hobu performance (classical music and dance) at midday on Sunday 1 November, followed by a sankyoku presentation (chamber music).

Monday 2 November sees noh and kyogen take to the stage, a kind of commedia dell’arte via the Land of the Rising Sun.

Finally, Tuesday plays host to the bulk of the celebrations, including yabusame (archery on horseback), demonstrations of the martial arts aikido and kobudo, and a spectacular kikkaten (chrysanthemum exhibition).

The festivities come to a close with a solemn Shinto ceremony, during which offerings from the current emperor are laid at the shrine. I say! Being an emperor must be exhausting!

1-3 Nov, 2015.

1-1 / Yoyogikamizonocho / Shibuya-ku / +81 3 3379 5511 /