There are countless shrines and temples scattered across Japan, each with their own unique history and features. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the best traditional shrines and temples to visit on your next trip to Japan.
Izumo Taisha is one of the most important shrines in all of Japan. It is said to the place where the gods gather, and has a popular pilgrimage site for centuries. The shrine is locate in Shimane Prefecture, and is surround by beautiful forests.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is another must-visit shrine. It is locate in Kyoto, and is known for its thousands of vermillion torii gates that lead up the mountain behind the shrine complex. This is a popular spot for hiking, and the views from the top are stunning.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is another Kyoto highlight. This Buddhist temple is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Japan, and it’s easy to see why. The temple complex sits on a mountainside, and offers breathtaking views of Kyoto below. There are also several interesting museums on site, making Kiyomizu-dera an ideal spot to spend a day or two exploring.
These are just a few of the many incredible shrines and temples you can find in Japan. So get out there and start exploring!
Where To Stay In Kyoto Japan
There are a few different areas to stay in Kyoto, but we recommend staying in either the Higashiyama or Arashiyama districts. Both of these areas are centrally located and offer a wide variety of accommodations, from high-end hotels to budget-friendly hostels.
If you’re looking for a more traditional Japanese experience, then we recommend staying in a Ryokan. These traditional inns typically offer tatami mat rooms and guests expected to wear yukata robes while inside the inn. Breakfast and dinner usually included with your stay and served in your room.
For those on a tighter budget, there are plenty of hostels and capsule hotels located throughout Kyoto. These provide basic accommodations at a fraction of the cost of a typical hotel room.
Best Traditional Shrines & Temples In Japan
There are over 80,000 shrines and temples in Japan, so it can be tough to decide which ones to visit. To help narrow down your choices, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best traditional shrines and temples in Japan.
1. Fushimi Inari Taisha: This shrine is one of the most popular in Japan, and for good reason. Located in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha is known for its thousands of red torii gates, which lead up Mt. Inari. The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, and is said to a particularly lucky place for business owners.
2. Sensoji Temple: Another Kyoto temple that’s worth a visit is Sensoji Temple. This Buddhist temple is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, and is known for its giant gate (Nakamise-mon) and five-story pagoda. Make sure to try your luck at the temple’s fortune-telling stalls!
3. Meiji Jingu: This shrine, located in Tokyo, is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. Built in 1920, Meiji Jingu is set in a large forest, making it a peaceful oasis from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo city life.
4. Kiyomizu-dera: Another must-see temple in Kyoto is Kiyomizu-dera (“
Todai-ji Temple (Nara)
Located in the city of Nara, Todai-ji Temple is one of Japan’s most iconic and popular shrines. The temple was founded in 752 by Emperor Shomu, and houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha (Daibutsu). The main hall (Kondo) and the Daibutsu are designated as National Treasures of Japan.
Todai-ji is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple complex is expansive, and includes several other notable buildings such as the Five-Story Pagoda and the South Gate. Visitors can explore the grounds at their own pace, or join a guided tour (available in English) to learn more about the temple’s history and significance.
A visit to Todai-ji is a must-do when in Nara – it’s one of the most important Buddhist temples in Japan, and a truly awe-inspiring sight.
Kinkaku-ji Temple (Kyoto)
Kinkaku-ji Temple is one of the most popular shrines and temples in Japan. It is located in Kyoto, and it is a World Heritage Site. The temple was built in 1397 by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It is a three-story building with a golden phoenix on the roof. The temple is surround by a beautiful garden with ponds and trees. Kinkaku-ji Temple is open to the public from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Ginkaku-ji Temple (Kyoto)
Ginkaku-ji is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kyoto. The temple was built in 1490 by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the 8th shogun of the Muromachi shogunate. As a retirement villa and garden. It was later convert into a Zen temple.
The main hall of the temple, known as the Silver Pavilion, is a national treasure. The pavilion gets its name from the fact that it was intend to be cover in silver leaf, but this was never complet.
The gardens of Ginkaku-ji are some of the most beautiful in all of Japan. They are especially renown for their autumn leaves. The temple is also home to a number of important cultural artifacts, including a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
If you are interest in traditional Japanese architecture and gardens, Ginkaku-ji is a must-see.
Tenryu-ji Temple (Kyoto)
Tenryu-ji is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the so-called “five great Zen temples” of Kyoto. The temple was found in 1339 by the ruling emperor, Go-Daigo, and its first head priest was the Chinese monk Muso Soseki.
The Tenryu-ji complex includes a main hall, a lecture hall, a belfry, and several smaller buildings. The main hall houses a large statue of the Buddha Amitabha. The lecture hall contains a copy of the Heart Sutra, inscribed by Emperor Go-Daigo. The belfry holds 24 bronze bells, which are rung twice daily.
The temple grounds are famous for their beautiful gardens, which include a pond with an island and bridges, and a tea garden. The gardens are consider some of the best examples of Japanese garden design.
Senso-ji Temple (Tokyo)
Senso-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Senso-ji is dedicat to the bodhisattva Kannon, also known as the Goddess of Mercy.
The temple complex includes several buildings, gates, and courtyards. The main hall houses a statue of Kannon. The temple is surround by a large shopping district known as Nakamise-dori. This street is line with over 200 shops selling traditional Japanese goods such as snacks, souvenirs, and kimono.
Visitors can participate in many activities at Senso-ji Temple. They can pray at the main hall, purchase amulets and talismans, walk through the incense smoke to purify themselves, and ring the temple bell. The temple grounds are also home to a five-story pagoda and a garden with a pond.
Kawasaki Daishi Temple (Tokyo)
Kawasaki Daishi Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Kawasaki, Japan. The temple founded in 1128 the priest Shōtoku, and is dedicat to the deity Kannon. It is one of the most popular temples in the Tokyo area, and receives over two million visitors each year.
The temple grounds are extensive, and include several buildings and structures, such as the main hall, the pagoda, and the bell tower. The temple is also home to a large bronze statue of Kannon, which stands at over 13 meters tall. Visitors can participate in various activities at the temple, such as praying at the main hall or ringing the bell.
Hase-Dera Temple (Kamakura)
Hase-Dera Temple is one of the best traditional shrines and temples to visit in Japan. The temple is located in Kamakura, about an hour outside of Tokyo. The temple grounds are beautiful, and the main hall houses a large statue of the Buddha. There are also several smaller shrines and temples on the grounds, making it a great place to spend a day exploring.