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It all depends on the kind of experience you want to have there. Meiji Jingu Shrine, with its contemplative, pebble-covered paths and serene gardens, can be an oasis of calm in frenzied Harajuku if you visit on a weekday afternoon.
On the weekends, it’s more crowded, and you’ll likely have to push your way past thongs of teenagers, elaborately decked out in theatrical “gothic” costumes, along with the gawkers who hang around to photograph them.
On Sundays, especially in late spring, you may catch sight of a traditional wedding procession through the courtyard.
For a quintessential, if somewhat claustrophobic, Tokyo experience, head to Meiji Shrine at New Year’s. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, thousands of people pass through the 40-foot-high torii gate at the entrance for hatsumode, the first prayer of the year. Steaming hot cups of amazake -- thick, sweet sake -- are offered to take the edge off the chill. Once you’ve paid your respects to the gods, you can snack on street-food treats like takoyaki (octopus dumplings) at one of the stalls nearby. The shrine is packed from the 1st - 4th (with over 3 million visitors annually during this period), but the thrill of taking part in the festivities is exhilarating.