When Emperor Meiji was born in 1852, Japan was a pre-industrial feudal country isolated by choice. Meiji ascended the throne at just 15, and when he died in 1912, Japan had become the modern, industrialized country we know today. The Meiji Shrine, located within Yoyogi Park, is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. The original shrine was built in 1915 and destroyed during World War II. The current structures date from 1958, but they manage to provide a timeless glimpse of old Japan. Almost as impressive as the temple itself are the surrounding landscaped gardens, especially if you visit in spring or early summer when you can almost always count on seeing something in bloom.