After the emperor's bereavement in 1912, the Japanese Diet passed a resolution to commemorate his role in the Meiji Restoration. An iris garden in an area of Tokyo where the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken had been known to visit was chosen as the building's location.
The Construction began in 1915, and the shrine was built in the traditional Nagarezukuri style and is made up primarily of Japanese cypress and copper. It was formally dedicated in the early 1920, completed in the time of 1921, and its grounds officially finished by 1926. Until 1946, the Meiji Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha , meaning that it stood in the first position of government supported shrines. The unique building was destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of World War 2. The present iteration of the shrine was funded through a public fund raising effort and completed in the month of October, 1958.
The Meiji Shrine was brought into the flow of current events with the 2009 visit of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After arriving in the Tokyo on her first foreign trip representing the newly elected President Barack Obama, she made her way to this shrine in advance of meetings with Japan's leaders to show her "respect toward history and the culture of Japan." In January 2010,the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle demonstrated the same respect when he concluded his visit to Japan with a visit of the shrine.
The Meiji Shrine is situated in a forest that covers an area of 700,000 s-m (about 175 acres). This area is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by the people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established. The forest is visited by many as a recreation and relaxation area in the center of the Tokyo.The Naien is the inner precinct, which is centered on the shrine buildings and includes a treasure museum that houses articles of the Emperor and Empress. The wealth museum is built in the Azekurazukuri style.
The Gaien is the outer precinct, which includes the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery that houses a collection of eighty large murals illustrative of the events in the lives of the Emperor and his consort. It also includes a variety of sports facilities, including the National Stadium, and is seen as the center of the Japanese sports. It also includes the Meiji Memorial Hall, which was originally used for governmental meetings, including discussions surrounding the drafting of the Meiji Constitution in the late nineteenth century. Today it is used for the Shinto weddings.
The main complex of shrine buildings is located a ten minute walk from both the southern entrance near Harajuku Station and the northern entrance near Yoyogi Station. Entry into the shrine grounds is marked by a massive torii gate, after which the sights and sounds of the busy city are replaced by a tranquil forest. The approximately 100,000 trees that make up Meiji Jingu's forest were planted during the shrine's construction and were donated from regions across the entire country. At the middle of the forest, Meiji Jingu's buildings also have an air of tranquility distinct from the surrounding city. Visitors to the shrine can take part in typical Shinto activities, such as making offerings at the main hall, buying charms and amulets or writing out one's wish on an ema.
The Meiji Jingu is one of the Japan's most popular shrines. In the 1st days of the New Year, the shrine regularly welcomes more than three million visitors for the year's first prayers, more than any other shrine or temple in the country. During the rest of the year, traditional Shinto weddings can often be seen taking put there.