Early on Sunday morning I met up with a friend and her family who are in Tokyo for vacation this week. Despite the heat, we hit up the Meiji Shrine, walking through the verdant grounds, and viewing the shrine where Emperor Meiji (ruled- 1868-1912) and Empress Shoken are memorialized.
Before entering the main part of the shrine, we all received omikuji, or fortunes. Each was a poem written by either Emperor Meiji or Empress Shoken. Mine was written by Empress Shoken and read:
Cut, if need be, through thick briars,
Knots of brambles, tangled thorns,
For the path that's yours to follow
Must be trodden to the end.
It was interpreted as:
Never turn aside from the road that your convictions tell you to follow, whatever obstacles you must surmount on the way. Be true to yourself.
I love this fortune. Not only was it written by the empress (the following empress, Empress Teimei, is the subject of my dissertation), but it is about persevering and taking the path less traveled, much like my current situation. While I'm not a religious person, it does feel like fate intervened to give me such an appropriate verse.
We also viewed the wish plaques, and saw a Shinto wedding taking place at the shrine.
In addition to the shrine itself, we visited the Treasure House and Treasure House Annex, seeing clothing and other objects used by the emperor and empress themselves (below).
After walking around the shrine, we stopped for lunch in Harajuku, which was bustling on a Sunday afternoon.