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.
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
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 HONMONJI TEMPLE
Gorgeous red pagoda, and home of the festival of 10,000 lanterns
Famous monk Nichiren’s final home before he died • Spectacular Oeshiki festival (Festival of 10,000 Lanterns) in October • Splendid red and gold buildings
A lucky cat temple devoted to matchmaking
Come here to wish for the ideal mate • Shrine shop sells adorable cat merchandise
KANDA MYŌJIN SHRINE
This is the Anime Shrine – where anime and manga artists come to pray for success
My favorite place to see weddings, people in gorgeous kimonos and period costume
The Temple of the Tied-up Saint has a great story behind it
Fabulous Shibarare Jizo figure • This jizo-sama is famous for helping people get out of a pickle • Great story behind the statue • beautiful grounds
My favorite Tokyo shrine, in a neighborhood unchanged by time
Tunnel of orange torii gates • Beautifully restored gold and lacquer buildings • Old-fashioned neighborhood that escaped WWII bombing
NISHI-ARAI DAISHI TEMPLE (also known as Soji-ji)
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
See the actual burial place of the legendary 47 ronin
If you want to combine shrines & temples with souvenir shopping & festivities, this is where you should go.
TSURUGAOKA HACHIMAN-GU SHRINE
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
The most controversial Imperial Shrine in Japan
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
This is a gorgeous shrine, seldom visited by tourists
ZENIARAI BENTEN SHRINE
This is a beautiful shrine where you can wash your money so it will double within the year
Enter through a tunnel cut through the rock • Shrine is in the middle of a grotto with beautiful waterfalls • Wash your money in the stream running through the shrine’s cave, and it will 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
Read a novel set in Tokyo