The best shrines & temples in Tokyo

Everyone thinks you have to go to Kyoto to see beautiful shrines and temples, but Tokyo boasts some incredibly amazing ones if you know where to look. These are my favorites because they are quirky and entertaining as well as being easy on the eyes.

DAIBUTSU in Kamakura

6Daibutsu

The giant Buddha in Kamakura not only makes for spectacular pix, you can go inside!

• Classic Japan photo op • Biggest bronze Buddha figure in the country • You can go inside the hollow statue and see how it was made

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FUKUGAWA FUDO TEMPLE

4FukugawaFudo

The place to see red-hot fire ceremonies, with awesome taiko drums!

Fire ceremonies with drums, five times a day • Hall of 10,000 crystal figures of Fudo-san • Room with 108 glow-in-the-dark paintings of gods • Dragon fountain that grants wishes written on dissolving amulets • Giant wooden Fudo figure

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GOKOKU-JI TEMPLE

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GOTOKU-JI TEMPLE

4Gotokuji

Home of the lucky cat temple!

Wonderful lucky cat shrine on the temple grounds • Excellent plum blossoms (Feb) and autumn leaves (mid-late Nov)

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HASEDERA TEMPLE

Famous golden statue, thousands of Jizo figures, and an underground grott0…all set amid an amazing hydrangea garden

Spectacular thirty-foot-tall Kannon figure • Candle-lit underground grotto filled with tiny shrines • Giant prayer wheel • Buddha’s footprints • Incredible hydrangea garden (June)

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HOKOKU-JI BAMBOO TEMPLE

4.BambooTemple

This temple has a magnificent forest of giant bamboo and extensive walking paths through the cool & shady grounds

Paths take you through bamboo forest and area of lush greenery, studded with caves • Nice teahouse where you can have a bowl of mattcha (tea ceremony-style green tea) and traditional sweets

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IKEGAMI HONMON-JI TEMPLE

Gorgeous red pagoda, and home of the festival of 10,000 lanterns

Famous monk Nichiren’s final home before he died • Spectacular Oeshiki parade (Festival of 10,000 Lanterns) in October • Splendid five story pagoda

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IMADO SHRINE

4.ImadoShrine

A lucky cat temple devoted to matchmaking

Come here to wish for the ideal mate • Shrine shop sells adorable cat merchandise

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KAMAKURA-GU SHRINE

The “Dish-Breaking Shrine” • Break a dish and get rid of negative people in your life • Dragon clappers • Healing Jizo figure

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KANDA MYŌJIN SHRINE

Where anime and manga artists come to pray for success

Amazing art drawn on prayer plaques by visitors • Beautiful red and gold shrine buildings • You can buy a charm to protect your electronics • Weddings and ceremonies galore

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MEIJI SHRINE

4MeijiJingu

This is my favorite place to see weddings, people in gorgeous kimonos and period costume.

Most reliable place to see weddings • Festivals • People wearing kimonos • Cedar buildings built without nails • If we’re lucky, a real live tanuki sighting!

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NANZO-IN TEMPLE

Home of the Shibarare Jizo, a tied-up saint famous for getting people out of tight spots

There’s a great story behind this statue • Tie your own rope around the Shibarare Jizo and make a wish • Lovely grounds with appealing animal sculptures

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NEZU SHRINE

4nezujinja1

Beautiful red & gold shrine with a tunnel of orange torii gates you can walk through

Torii gate tunnel • Beautiful red & gold buildings • Must-see azalea festival (Apr) • Fine fall leaves (Nov) • Excellent surrounding neighborhood with traditional shops

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NISHIARAI-DAISHI TEMPLE

One stop shop for garden strolling and wart curing

Famous peony gardens bloom in April • Wart-curing Jizo figure

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SASUKE INARI SHRINE

The fox shrine to end all fox shrines

Enter through a gorgeous tunnel of orange torii gates • Mysterious little moss-covered fox “villages” line a footpath that wends its way up a shady mountainside

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SENGAKU-JI TEMPLE

4Sengakuji

Truth is stranger than fiction – let’s go see the actual burial place of the 47 ronin!

Graves of the 47 ronin • Their signed confession • The well where they washed Lord Kira’s severed head • Statue portaits of the 47 ronin

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SENSO-JI TEMPLE

The biggest, most famous, Buddhist temple in Tokyo

Giant Buddhist temple (Senso-ji) • Famous gate with huge lantern • Shopping street lined with shops selling traditional goods • Five-story pagoda • Great place to see festivals & weddings • Rare festivals like the memorial for needles & pins and the white heron dance • Theatrically lit up at night • Secret garden only open in the spring for cherry blossom season

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TSURUGAOKA HACHIMAN-GU SHRINE in Kamakura

4.Tsurugaoka

A magnificent red & gold shrine, built by the shogun when Kamakura was the capitol of Japan

Red & white lotus ponds represent the two warring families who were united under the shogun • Excellent traditional events & festivals

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YASUKUNI SHRINE

Famous Imperial shrine does everything in grand style

Impressive Imperial shrine that hosts many lively festivals throughout the year • Extensive WWII museum • Japanese garden with koi pond • Sumo amphitheatre where amateur events take place • Controversial because the souls of all Japanese war dead are enshrined here

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YUSHIMA SHRINE

4Yushima

A gorgeous shrine, seldom visited by tourists

Jewel-like example of a cedar wood and gold shrine • Plum blossom festival in February • Musical water garden

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ZENI-ARAI BENTEN SHRINE in Kamakura

4Zeniarai

Wash your money in this grotto-like shrine to double it within the year

Enter through a tunnel cut through the surrounding cliffs • Shrine is set in a grotto with beautiful waterfalls • Wash your money in the stream running through the shrine’s cave, and pray for it to double within the year

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ZOJO-JI TEMPLE

Stately temple favored by the shoguns

Thousands of Jizo figures • Seven Tokugawa shōguns are buried here • Holiday ceremonies with Japanese celebrities

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Here’s the link to everything you can do in Kamakura, which is an easy day trip from Tokyo:

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