Irises at Meiji Shrine – and a Surprise Sighting

My favorite ” go to” spot- Meiji Shrine. Always entertaining- to me anyway, as  I can never find anyone else to tag along. The Offspring hide until I`ve been gone for 10 minutes. Spouse will go if he can see Sumo wrestlers. The shrine was built in honor of Emperor Meiji- the man who opened Japan to the outside world  in the late 1800`s at the close of the Shogunate age. Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, visited the current location of the shrine to enjoy the iris garden. Because of their love of the location, the shrine was built there in 1912.

Blooming in June, and having missed them last year, my camera was charged and ready to go.

The gold Chrysanthemum is the Emperor`s crest

Although located in the center of Tokyo, 175 acres of shrine ground containing  365 different species of trees completely muffles all city noise.

One must remain diligent, alert to danger when hiking through the forest. Anything could pop out.

I saw Bigfoot.

Two in fact. So, I guess I actually saw Bigfeet. Some of you might only be familiar with the scientific name -Sasquatch.

Once calm, I realized Bigfoot travels alone-never in pairs. Some remain skeptical of the existence of Bigfoot, however, what else could these be? I`m including the blurry picture of these raccoon-ish/ Bigfoot type things on the move for easier species identification. I couldn`t test my hypothesis that they are of the raccoon variety by tossing food and observing them handling it with their paws. Or do they only do that in cartoons?

I stayed, watching them, pondering an appropriate scientific name for this new species I discovered until I remembered the painful reputation of rabies shots.

Through the clearing and in to the garden. I must have been off by a few days as there were a lot of plants but not a lot of flowers. The brochure pictures are stunning showing a carpet in varying shades of purple- and copyrighted- so I couldn`t post them as mine. No one would have been fooled- everyone would have recognized the high quality photos as something never seen before on this blog.

The hat- a distinguishing characteristic of a Japanese person.The younger generation prefers a fedora style. It`s why they all look young and I don`t.

Even weeds get a lift.

Nature is highly valued in Japanese culture. So far my favorite way to enjoy nature remains drinking sake under the cherry blossoms.

Ok- who knows what those animals are?

One of my FB friends- Linda- provided the answer. It`s a raccoon dog called a tanuki (read here). I was half right. Thanks Linda!

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31 Responses to Irises at Meiji Shrine – and a Surprise Sighting

  1. Peggy R says:

    Tanuki!! The irises are so lovely. It looks so peaceful there, what a great get-away spot!


    • I end up going over there about every 3 months- irises in June, Shinto weddings every weekend, festivals in the fall- always something going on. I love it!Thanks for stopping in Peggy!


  2. There was a Japanese Garden on the causeway between Miami Beach and Miami but they never rebuilt it after a hurricane some years back.


  3. Yousei Hime says:

    Tanuki! They really do look a lot like racoons. The iris seem a bit different too. A bit more open, like a butterfly with its wings spread out. They are beautiful. Mine are almost done blooming, but I do enjoy them. Unfortunately, I haven’t a single purple shade. I’ll have to go looking for some for next year. Thank you for sharing these photos. It’s exciting that you got to see the tanuki in person.


    • Yousei- I thought Tanuki were something along the lines of the jackalope (the rabbit with the deer antlers) – something completely made up. I had no idea it was a real animal! This must be my lucky year! The other confusing thing is that people have told me that the Tanuki is a badger. Hmmm.
      I really am going to have to get the timing right for next year. I`ve never seen so many varieties of irises. They were just beautiful. I saw so many purples it`s hard to imagine you didn`t get even one! Good luck next year!


      • Yousei Hime says:

        I wonder what the actual scientific classification for the tanuki is? Have you seen Miyazaki’s PomPoko? It’s all about tanuki (in the folklore sense).

        I only have pale yellow iris and a beautiful maroon one. I’ll put some pics up this week (maybe today) that I took when they were at their best. I’ve always loved the small, dark purple ones. If you ever see a fox, I’d love to see a picture of that too. 😉


      • Here you go: Nyctereutes procyonoides Thanks to Paul from Down Under.
        I haven`t but I`ll look it up- I`m still stewing over the fact that everyone has told me the Tanuki was a badger. Foxes I`ve only seen in PA and they are quick to hide.
        I`ll go over and check out your pics!
        Thanks for passing on the recommendation! Love your comments.


  4. G’day, I believe the Animal is a Racoon Dog. Nyctereutes procyonoides is the latin name for the little beast. The Japanese name you might get from Andretti San.
    Love your blog, and you pictures are pretty good.


    • Hey Paul! Good to see you! Thanks for the scientific name which as you can see is of interest to more than just me! Ya`ll have all sorts of strange animals down under yeh? Thanks for hanging with me this whole time and I`m glad you`re still enjoying t.


  5. Lovely images. I would love to walk through Meiji shrine with you, and even fact the terrifying Tanuki/Bigfoot. 😉


  6. Tokyo Jinja says:

    So funny – I just wrote about irises too! Its the season!!! xoxo J


  7. They look like racoons to me. But, goodness, the iris are stunning. Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend, Emily.


  8. Tanuki! See, I see something new every time I read your blog. It’s like Times Square without all the riff-raff. 🙂


  9. Yousei Hime says:

    My flowers are up on the blog. Thanks for the visit. I love reading your blog, so making enjoyable comments is easy. 😉 Looking forward to my next visit.


    • Yousei Hime says:

      Quick note. Apparently, tanuki (raccoon dogs) are not related to raccoons but are distantly related to dogs. They’re pretty much in their own little group and unlikely to interbreed with other species. Phew. Always wondered about them. 😉


  10. Tar-Buns says:

    I LOVE the irises. Never saw them myself at Meiji Shrine.
    Do you know how long your family is staying in Japan? Enjoy!


    • Hey TB- how`s your summer going? I really want to see them in carpet form! I have no idea how long we`ll here which is why I have to live like it`s the last!


      • Tar-Buns says:

        I’m really longing for re-connecting with the people and places of my time in Japan, lo these 20 years ago!!!! Hard for me to believe. Yet, my life has changed so much since then and I’m not in touch with the people I’d like to see/hear from. Got to work on that.

        Summer started for me last TH morning, but big family stuff all weekend so no relaxing yet. I’m leaving with a big group of friends for Chicago (my mostest favorite town, where I lived for 10 years!) Wed AM early, taking the train from Lansing, MI into Union Station.

        We are going primarily for the Detroit Tigers vs Chicago Cubs TH afternoon game at Wrigley Field. They don’t usually play each other, as they are in different leagues. We’ve been planning this since last winter, when they announced that the Cubs and Tigers would play in Chicago. Whew…I go on.

        Anyway, always enjoy your posts. Am nostalgic for many things.
        Wishing you all the best! Loved the pics!
        T-Buns 🙂


  11. Dana says:

    The irises are gorgeous, Emily. They are in full bloom here, too. Must take the time to photograph them one of these days.

    Those animals sure look like sasquatches to me. Or do I stand corrected?


  12. Angie Z. says:

    Sadly, the fur from those raccoon dogs are what was often times used (by overseas clothing factories) for the fur found on coats and clothes and such sold in the States. It was a big scandal a few years back, with major stores being boycotted and then agreeing to stop selling items containing the fur. I remember I kept hearing “raccoon dogs” and had no idea what they were talking about at the time. The word “dog” in there was of course what was the most upsetting to Americans.


    • I didn’t hear about that. The scandal we were all watching involved a truckload of dogs in China that was high jacked by an animal rights group. the dogs were destined for dinner- as the main course.


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