Tokyo’s Best Temples and Shrines
Introducing 11 of the best temples and shrines in Tokyo:
Despite the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, with 20 million people going about their daily business, there are a few sanctuaries of peace and quiet found within the city of Tokyo.
Tokyo has a rich history of culture, mixed with it’s own Japanese religions which extends back over 1000 years. From the religions of Japan (mainly Shinto and Buddhism) has sprung some of the most amazing shrines and temples.
Here is a guide to the best shrines and temples worth visiting in Tokyo Japan:
Sensō-ji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple and a very important Buddhist Temple, visited by people from all over Japan. Located in Asakusa in the eastern part of Tokyo city. At the front of the temple grounds is the impressive Thunder Gates (Kaminarimon) which you pass through to enter the huge grounds of Sensō-ji. You walk down the long Nakamise arcade walkway which is lined with shops selling all sorts of souvenirs. At the end of the arcade the area opens to the courtyard with the Sensō-ji Temple at the other side.
The grounds of Sensō-ji Temple have various Japanese gardens with a number of important shrines important for both Buddhist and Shinto religion.
The Tokyo Skytree is not far from Sensō-ji Temple so worth planning to visit both on the same day.
See more pics and read more information about Sensō-ji Temple and Asakusa.
Meiji Jingū Shrine
Meiji Jingū Shrine is one of the largest and most important Shinto Shrines in Japan. Located within the Yoyogi Park, close to Harajuku Train Station. The most important day of the year to visit a Shinto Shrine is on New Year’s day, to make prayers for the upcoming year. Meiji Jingū Shrine receives around 3 million visitors on New Year’s Day so maybe best to avoid if you looking for some peace and quiet during your visit. They hold traditional Japanese Shinto weddings on the grounds of Meiji Jungu Shrine, all through the week, though the best time to see the wedding processions is on a Saturday.
Zojoji Temple is a Buddhist Temple around 20 minutes walk from Tokyo’s Roppongi area, and just a few minutes walk from Tokyo Tower. Zoj0ji Temple dates back to 1393. The front wooden gates at the entrance of Zojo-ji Temple were built in 1622 and is enshrined with images of the Buddha. At the rear of the temple is a mausoleum for the Tokugawa Shoguns who were the last feudal Japanese government, running the entire country between 1603 and 1868.
See more pics and history of Zojo-ji Temple
Hanazono Shrine, is probably the easiest to visit as it is right in the heart of Shinjuku. Hanazono (meaning flower garden) is surrounded by the tall buildings of Shinjuku, just 5 minutes walk from the eastern exit of Shinjuku train station. Hanazono is a Shinto Shrine which are identified by the large Torii gates (pictured below) at the entrance of the grounds of the shrine. The Hanazono Shrine was build in the 17th century during the Edo period. It is free to visit the shrine and you will often see Japanese going up the steps to pay their respects and make prayer at the shrine. At night time the shrine is lit up with lights and is the most peaceful area of Shinjuku, the busiest part of Tokyo.
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Kanda Myojin Shinto Shrine
Kanda Myojin Shinto Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto Shrines in Tokyo, dating back to 730 AD. One of the most beautiful Shinto Shrines in Tokyo, Kanda Myojin is not far from Akihabara Tokyo, also referred to as Electric Town.
Kanda Myojin is a very popular shrine for local people to come to worship the dieties enshrined for family happiness, marriage, prosperity and success in business. One of the most important seasonal festivals at Kanda Myojin is Kanda Matsuri which is celebrated every 2 years in May.
Read more about Kanda Myojin Shinto Shrine in Tokyo
Nezu Shrine (Nezu-jinga) is a beautiful Shinto shrine in Central Tokyo a short walk from Nezu station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Train Line. Nezu Shrine dates back to 1705 and is surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens which holds the Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) which is held from early April until the beginning of May each year.
At the side of Nezu Shrine are a line of red Torii gates at the back of the gardens. Nezu Shrine is probably one of the lesser known shrines in Tokyo to visit but I recommend it as a great shrine to visit.
Read more about Nezu Shrine in Tokyo
Yasukuni Shrine, located around 15 minutes away from Shinjuku, has enshrined the names of Japanese people who died during wartime. There is always a bit of controversy, especially from the Chinese, when a Japanese Prime Minister visits Yasukuni due to some of the names enshrined in Yasukuni being Generals and high ranking officers from the Second World War. Over 5 million Japanese visit Yasukuni each year.
See more pics and read more history of Yasukuni Shrine
Listed above are the most famous and popular temples and shrines in Tokyo. List below are some of the lesser known temples which are definitely worth a visit:
Sengakuji Temple is a Sōtō Zen Buddhist Temple in Tokyo which is famous for being the burial ground of the 47 Ronin which were depicted in the Hollywood movie ’47 Ronin’ with Keanu Reeves. A beautiful temple with the burial ground found in some lovely Japanese gardens to the side of the temple.
Sengakuji Temple is located a short walk from Sengakuji Station on the Asakusa Subway Line, around 15 minutes ride away from Shinjuku.
Read more about Sengakuji Temple
Koganji Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Sugamo Tokyo, just 6 stops from Shinjuku on the Yamanote Line. Koganji is a very popular temple for local people due to the healing properties of a small statue right in front of the main temple building. People queue up for their chance to wash the statue. It is believed if they wash a certain part of the statues body, then it will heal the corresponding part of their body.
See the video for Koganji Temple in Tokyo
Read more about Koganji Temple in Tokyo
Tennoji Temple is a Buddhist Temple located in the Yannaka area of Tokyo, right next to Nippori Train station which is only 10 stops from Shinjuku Train Station on the Yamanote line.
Tennoji Temple is a lovely temple surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens and has one of the most lovely Buddha statues at the front of the temple.
Read more about Tennoji Temple.
Zenshoan Temple is another Buddhist temple in the Yannaka area of Tokyo around 10 minutes walk from Nippori Train Station. The highlight of Zenshoan Temple is the large golden standing Buddha at the rear of the temple, overlooking a traditional Japanese Buddhist cemetery
Read more about Zenshoan Temple.
For more interesting shrines and temples close to Tokyo check out our article on Kamakura – Ancient Japan just 1 hour from Tokyo.
Check out the most popular articles about Shinjuku Tokyo