Mid-June at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo means the tail end of the seasonal bloom of irises in shrine's gardens – bright blue-purple blossoms still remain throughout the complex, though the crowds that come to view them have thinned out since the height of the season. The shrine is tucked into a forest that remains apart from the otherwise urban Shibuya ward, the entrance of the path through the trees marked by a high arch that visitors are meant to bow beneath before continuing onward toward the shrine.
It's quiet – quieter than anywhere else Elle has been in the city so far. She hadn't wanted to visit a museum, and the weather today was amenable; sunny, but not too hot. Enough wind that the leaves rustle in the tall trees that shade that path, but not so much that one would need a jacket. There are still enough visitors for voices to be heard throughout the woods, especially as they reach the main yard of the shrine, and there's an occasional buzzing or flurry of wings above them, but still – it's quieter.
Elle figured X would prefer that.
The main yard opens onto the shrine complex
, paved by rectangular stones, the large building of cypress pillars and copper gabled roofs spread over the square beneath the camphor trees. To the side there are desks where visitors can write prayers on small pieces of paper to be left in the walls and shelves set up around the shrine.
Now, with no definite path to follow, Elle hesitates as they reach the open space of the square.