At this sacred place, visitors from around the world inscribe their wishes and prayers on small wooden tablets, which are hung on hooks under a large tree in its inner courtyard. Shinto monks from the nearby temple convey the wishes to the gods while they chant and say their daily prayers. At the start of the New Year, the tablets are burned in order to symbolically “release” the prayers to the gods and the heavens, where it is believed they are granted.
The prayer tree is part of a larger monument complex commemorating an Emperor and his wife, whose souls are considered to be enshrined there. Built in 1920 by over 100,000 volunteers, it was unfortunately destroyed by Allied bombs in WW2, but was rebuilt in 1958. It is one of the most popular destinations in this major Asian city.
Composed primarily of cypress wood with copper-plated roofs, there are several structures in the complex, including an inner temple, an outer temple, and a treasure museum. It is surrounded by extensive grounds which contain 120,000 trees, and an iris garden which the Emperor himself loved to visit. Many locals get married in traditional Shinto ceremonies here while others come to offer a variety of prayers customary in this culture, such as for newborn babies, for three, five and seven year-old children, or for success in examinations.
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