If you’re heading to Tokyo, you won’t want to miss out on visiting some of the city’s stunning shrines and temples. With a rich history and beautiful architecture, these spiritual sites offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Whether you’re interested in Buddhism or Shintoism, there is a shrine or temple in Tokyo that will capture your attention.
From the iconic Senso-ji Temple to the lesser-known Kogan-ji Temple, Tokyo is home to beautiful shrines and temples. These sites offer a glimpse into Japan’s fascinating history and culture, and provide a serene atmosphere for visitors to reflect and unwind. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Tokyo or a seasoned traveler, exploring these spiritual sites is a great option.
So let’s take a look at the 14 best shrines and temples in Tokyo that you won’t want to miss. From the stunning Meiji Shrine to the quirky Gotoku-ji Temple and everything in between. So, grab your Camera, pocket change, and your hopes, goals, and desires that could use some divine intervention, and get ready to explore the best of Tokyo’s shrines and temples.
The awe-inspiring Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, is one of the most famous and oldest temples in Tokyo. Located in the Asakusa district, this temple should be high on the things-to-do list for anyone traveling to the nation’s capital. The temple was built in the year 645 and is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.
As you approach the temple, you’ll first pass through the Kaminarimon Gate, which is adorned with a large red lantern. The gate leads to a bustling street filled with vendors selling traditional Japanese souvenirs and snacks. Follow the street to the Hozomon Gate, which is guarded by two fierce-looking statues. Beyond the gate, you’ll find the main hall of the temple, which houses a beautiful statue of Kannon.
One of the unique features of Sensoji Temple is the Omikuji, or fortune-telling paper strips. You can purchase an Omikuji for a small fee and receive a fortune written in Japanese. If the fortune is bad, you can tie it to a nearby tree to leave the bad luck behind.
Sensoji Temple is a popular destination, so it can get quite crowded. However, the temple is open 24 hours a day, so you can visit early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds.
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Meiji Jingu Shrine
If you’re looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Meiji Jingu Shrine is the perfect place to go. Located in Shibuya, the shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, and is one of the most popular shrines in Tokyo.
The shrine is surrounded by a forested area, which makes it a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. It’s also a great place to learn about Japanese history and culture, as many of the rituals and ceremonies that take place at the shrine are deeply rooted in Shintoism.
One of the most impressive features of Meiji Jingu Shrine is the massive torii gate at the entrance. The gate is made of cypress wood and stands at over 40 feet tall. It’s a popular spot for taking photos, but be prepared for crowds, especially on weekends.
Inside the shrine grounds, you’ll find buildings and structures, including the main shrine building, a treasure house, and a museum. The architecture is stunning, with intricate carvings and beautiful detailing.
Meiji Jingu Shrine is also known for hosting events throughout the year, including traditional Japanese festivals and ceremonies. If you’re lucky enough to be in Tokyo during one of these events, be sure to check it out.
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Next is Asakusa Shrine, also known as the Shrine of the Three gods, is in the east-end area of Asakusa. It is a popular destination for both tourists and Tokyoites. The shrine is dedicated to the three men who founded Sensoji Temple, which is nearby. The shrine is also open 24 hours a day, making it a convenient spot to visit at any time.
The shrine is surrounded by a beautiful garden and is home to smaller shrines. You can also purchase charms and amulets at the shrine to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. The most popular charm is the Omamori, which is a small amulet that can be carried in a wallet or purse.
One of the most unique features of Asakusa Shrine is its annual Sanja Matsuri festival, which takes place in May. The festival is one of Tokyo’s biggest and attracts millions of visitors each year. During the festival, portable shrines known as mikoshi are carried through the streets by hundreds of dancers and musicians.
If you’re looking for a traditional Japanese experience, Asakusa Shrine should be on your to-do list. The shrine’s beautiful architecture, tranquil gardens, and vibrant festivals make it a popular spot.
If you’re looking for a temple that’s both historically significant and visually stunning, Zojo-ji Temple is it. Situated in the heart of Tokyo, this temple is the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism in the Kanto Region. The temple grounds are also home to a mausoleum of the Tokugawa family and a small museum.
One of the main attractions of Zojo-ji Temple is its location – it’s situated right next to the iconic Tokyo Tower, which makes for some great photo opportunities. The temple itself is also visually impressive, with towering gates and beautiful gardens that are especially picturesque during cherry blossom season.
But Zojo-ji Temple isn’t just a pretty face – it’s also steeped in history. The temple has been around since the 14th century, and over the years it has been the site of many important events in Japanese history. For example, it was the location of the Tokuwaga family’s mausoleum, which was destroyed during World War II but has since been rebuilt.
One of the most interesting things about Zojo-ji Temple is its connection to the shoguns. Six shoguns are buried on the temple grounds, and the temple was closely associated with the Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo period. If you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely want to take some time to explore the temple’s museum and learn more about its fascinating past.
More: Zojoji Temple Cherry Blossom Viewing Guide
Located in Bunkyo City, Nezu Shrine is one of the oldest and most beautiful shrines in Tokyo. The shrine dates back to the Edo period and is known for its stunning vermilion torii gates, which lead to a tranquil garden filled with azalea flowers.
The shrine is also home to a beautiful pond and small shrines, making it a popular spot . One of the most unique features of Nezu Shrine is its annual Azalea Festival, held in late April and early May, where you can see over 3,000 azalea plants in full bloom.
If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Nezu Shrine is the perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of Japanese culture.
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As you enter the grounds of Hie Shrine, you’ll be greeted by a massive torii gate that marks the entrance to the shrine. The gate is made of cypress wood and stands over 40 feet tall, making it one of the largest torii gates in Tokyo.
Once inside, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery, stone lanterns, and a tranquil pond. The main hall of the shrine is a beautiful example of traditional Japanese architecture, with intricate carvings and gold leaf accents.
One of the unique features of Hie Shrine is the staircase lined with bright red torii gates. This staircase leads up to the main hall of the shrine and is a popular spot for photos.
If you’re looking to experience a traditional Shinto ceremony, Hie Shrine offers services throughout the year. From New Year’s blessings to autumn festivals, there’s always something happening at this historic shrine.
Overall, Hie Shrine is a peaceful oasis in the heart of Tokyo and is definitely worth a visit.
More: Hie Shrine: A Guide To Central Tokyo’s Sacred Shrine
Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Chiyoda, Tokyo. It was founded in 1869 by Emperor Meiji to enshrine those who have died in war for their country and sacrificed their lives to help build the foundation for a peaceful Japan. The shrine is controversial due to its enshrinement of convicted war criminals, which has caused tensions with neighboring countries such as China and South Korea.
Despite this controversy, Yasukuni Shrine remains an important site for many Japanese people who come to pay their respects to the war dead. The shrine complex includes buildings, such as the Main Shrine, the Yushukan Museum, and the Chinreisha shrine. The Yushukan Museum displays artifacts and exhibits related to Japan’s military history, including weapons, uniforms, and photographs.
Visitors to Yasukuni Shrine can also witness traditional ceremonies and events throughout the year, such as the annual Spring and Autumn Festivals, which feature parades, music, and dance performances. The shrine is also a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing in the spring.
When visiting Yasukuni Shrine, it’s important to be respectful and mindful of the sensitivity surrounding the shrine’s history. Photography is allowed in most areas, but it’s important to follow the rules and guidelines posted throughout the complex. Visitors should also be aware that the shrine can be crowded during peak times, so it’s best to plan accordingly.
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More: Yasukuni Shrine Cherry Blossom Viewing Guide
Kanda Myojin Shrine
Kanda Myojin Shrine is a shrine for all tech geeks and gadget enthusiasts. Located in the bustling electronics center of Tokyo, Akihabara, this shrine has a techno twist and is popular for blessing computer equipment and gadgets.
Founded in 730 near present-day Otemachi, Kanda Myojin Shrine has a history of nearly 1,300 years. During the Edo period (1603-1867), it was moved to the current location, and shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu is said to have paid his respects at the shrine.
The shrine is famous for its Kanda Matsuri Festival, which is one of the three largest festivals in Japan and one of Tokyo’s three great Shinto festivals. It is held on odd-numbered years, on the weekend nearest to May 15, taking place in the Kanda Myojin Shrine and spreading to the surrounding areas. The festival features a parade on Saturday with an enormous mikoshi (portable shrine) weighing over 4 tons, carried by hundreds of men in traditional costumes.
Kanda Myojin Shrine is also an important shrine for praying for healthy businesses and marriages. Like many Shintoist shrines, it has its “Temisu,” which is like a pond or water fountain, where visitors wash their hands and mouth with a wooden ladle to “purify” before entering the temple.
If you are looking for a unique and interesting shrine to visit in Tokyo, Kanda Myojin Shrine should be on your list. Its rich history and cultural significance, coupled with its techno twist, make it a great option for all travelers.
Located in Ueno Park, the revered Toshogu-jinja Shrine is dedicated to the famous samurai leader, Tokugawa Ieyasu. The shrine is known for its stunning architecture and intricate carvings, which are a testament to the skill of the craftsmen who built it.
The main hall, which was built in the early 17th century, is particularly impressive. It is decorated with gold leaf and features intricate carvings of dragons and other mythical creatures.
In addition to the main hall, there are other buildings on the shrine grounds that are worth exploring. One of the most interesting is the Karamon gate, which is decorated with intricate carvings of birds and flowers.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Toshogu-jinja Shrine during the autumn months, you’ll be treated to a stunning display of fall foliage. The trees in Ueno Park turn vibrant shades of red and gold, creating a beautiful backdrop for the shrine.
For a serene and peaceful Hour or two in Tokyo, then Nogi-jinja Shrine is the perfect place for you. Located in the Akasaka district, this small Shinto shrine is dedicated to the memory of the Japanese army general Nogi Maresuke and his wife, who committed ritual suicide on the day of Emperor Meiji’s funeral. The shrine is a symbol of their infinite loyalty and respect for the emperor.
The shrine has a beautiful garden that is perfect for a quiet stroll or meditation. You can also participate in the ritual of prayer called Gokigan, which is believed to fulfill your wishes. However, this ritual requires a fee of 7,000 yen.
The shrine is open daily from early morning to 6:00 p.m. and admission is free. It is just a 30-second walk from Exit 1 of the Nogizaka Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, making it easily accessible.
While you are in the area, you can also visit other nearby sights such as Roppongi Hills and the Mori Art Museum, and the Tokyo City View Observation deck, which are just a short walk away.
If you are looking for a temple that is not too crowded, Zenkoku-ji Temple might be the perfect spot for you. Located in the Kagurazaka neighbourhood, this temple is a peaceful place to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
One of the unique features of Zenkoku-ji Temple is that it is a popular spot for fans of the Japanese boy band Arashi as well as other pop stars belonging to the Johnny & Associates entertainment group. You might even spot some posters or merchandise related to these celebrities when you visit the temple.
Another interesting aspect of Zenkoku-ji Temple is that it is where a lot of neighborhood festivals are held. If you are lucky, you might be able to witness one of these festivals during your visit.
Overall, Zenkoku-ji Temple is a great place to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet in the heart of Tokyo.
Yushima Seido Temple
Located in the Akihabara neighborhood, Yushima Seido Temple is a Confucian temple that is a testament to one of the ways Chinese culture and history influenced Japanese culture. Confucianism is a philosophical import from China, and this temple is a great example of the cultural exchange between the two countries. It was built by Tsunayoshi Tokugawa, a Shogun of the Edo Shogunate in 1690, and later became a school under the direct control of the Shogunate.
The temple is a 4-minute walk from the Hijiribashi Exit of JR Ochanomizu Station (Sobu, Chuo-Sobu Lines) and Shin-Ochanomizu Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line). Cross the Hijiribashi (Sage’s Bridge), and you will find it on your right. The temple is open from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, and admission is free.
One of the most striking features of the temple is its black exterior. The elegant black buildings are a unique contrast to the typical red and gold color scheme of other temples in Japan. The temple houses the largest sculpture of Confucius in the world and is considered the birthplace of Japanese school education.
You can explore the temple’s tranquil grounds and admire the intricate wood carvings and architecture. The temple’s main hall, the Seido Hall, is a designated National Treasure of Japan and is a must-see attraction for history and architecture enthusiasts.
Overall, Yushima Seido Temple is a unique and beautiful temple that gives you a glimpse into the cultural exchange between China and Japan. Its tranquil atmosphere and stunning architecture make it a worthwhile stop on any Tokyo itinerary.
Located in Kamakura, a city just south of Tokyo, Kōtoku-in is home to one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks, the Great Buddha of Kamakura. This bronze statue stands at 13.35 meters tall and weighs around 93 tons. It was cast in 1252 and has survived numerous typhoons, earthquakes, and even a tsunami.
You can enter the statue for a small fee and climb up to The deck inside the Buddha’s head. From there, you can enjoy a stunning view of Kamakura and the surrounding area.
Besides the Great Buddha, Kōtoku-in also features a beautiful garden filled with cherry blossom trees and a small museum showcasing the history of the temple.
While Kamakura is technically outside of Tokyo, it’s easily accessible by train and well worth the trip for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture. It’s also a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day.
Tomioka Hachiman Shrine
If you’re looking for a large and impressive shrine to visit in Tokyo, Tomioka Hachiman Shrine is a must-see. This shrine is the largest Hachiman shrine in Tokyo and is dedicated to Hachiman, the god of war and divine protector of Japan and the Japanese people.
The shrine was established in Fukagawa in 1627 and has a rich history that can be seen in its impressive architecture and cultural significance. The shrine is known for its beautiful wooden architecture and its large torii gate that welcomes visitors.
One of the most popular times to visit Tomioka Hachiman Shrine is during the Fukagawa Hachiman Festival, which takes place every August. This festival is one of the three largest festivals in Tokyo and is a great way to experience Japanese culture and traditions.
When you visit Tomioka Hachiman Shrine, be sure to take a stroll through the surrounding area to see the traditional Japanese buildings and shops. You can also visit the nearby Fukagawa Fudoson Temple for a unique spiritual experience.
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