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

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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GOTOKU-JI TEMPLE

4Gotokuji

The lucky cat temple!

Thousands of lucky maneki neko cat figures • Stunning natural cedar pagoda • Excellent cherry blossoms, plum blossoms and fall leaves

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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 HONMONJI TEMPLE

4.Ikegami

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

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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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KANDA MYŌJIN SHRINE

This is the Anime 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

My favorite place to see weddings, people in gorgeous kimonos and period costume

Weddings • Festivals • People wearing kimonos • Cedar buildings built without nails • Chance of real live tanuki sighting

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NANZO-IN TEMPLE

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

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NEZU SHRINE

4nezujinja1

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

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NISHI-ARAI DAISHI TEMPLE (also known as Soji-ji)

4NishiaraiDaishi

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

SaskukeInari

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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SENGAKUJI TEMPLE

4Sengakuji

See the actual burial place of the legendary 47 ronin

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

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SENSO-JI TEMPLE

4AsakusaS&T

If you want to combine shrines & temples with souvenir shopping & festivities, this is where you should go.

Giant Buddhist temple (Senso-ji) • Asakusa Shrine (Shinto) • Great place to see festivals & weddings • Lit up at night • Surrounding neighborhood is full of shops selling traditional goods

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TSURUGAOKA HACHIMAN-GU SHRINE

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

4Yasukuni

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

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YUSHIMA SHRINE

4Yushima

This is a gorgeous shrine, seldom visited by tourists

Jewel-like example of a cedar wood and gold shrine • Famous plum blossom festival (Feb) and chrysanthemum festival (Nov) • Musical water garden

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ZENIARAI BENTEN SHRINE

4Zeniarai

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

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ZOJOJI TEMPLE

4Zojoji

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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Read a novel set in Tokyo

In the wake of a natural disaster, Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, where he finds evidence that suggests the impossible. How could the head priest have been murdered by someone who was already dead?…read more

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