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
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
FUKUGAWA FUDO TEMPLE
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
Home of the lucky cat 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)
HOKOKU-JI BAMBOO TEMPLE
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
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
A lucky cat temple devoted to matchmaking
Come here to wish for the ideal mate • Shrine shop sells adorable cat merchandise
The “Dish-Breaking Shrine” • Break a dish and get rid of negative people in your life • Dragon clappers • Healing Jizo figure
KANDA MYŌJIN SHRINE
Where anime and manga artists come to pray for success
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!
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
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
One stop shop for garden strolling and wart curing
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
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
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
TSURUGAOKA HACHIMAN-GU SHRINE in Kamakura
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
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
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
ZENI-ARAI BENTEN SHRINE in Kamakura
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
Stately temple favored by the shoguns
Thousands of Jizo figures • Seven Tokugawa shōguns are buried here • Holiday ceremonies with Japanese celebrities
Shrine or temple, what’s the difference? Here’s a Quickie Guide to keep you from making a blunder. And if you’d like to know what to do when you get there, take a peek at how to shrine & temple in Japan.
Also, because so many great shrines & temples are in Kamakura (which is an easy day trip from Tokyo), here’s the link:
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