15 Most Beautiful Japanese Temples and Shrines

Japan is home to architectural wonders, including temples and shrines. Discover the 15 most beautiful of them.

Sensoji is one of the temples to absolutely visit during a trip to Japan. Especially since history buffs will be happy to discover the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, the capital of the land of the rising sun.Built in the year 628, it has a five-storied pagoda and another temple within it, Tanuki. It also impresses with its large red door, presenting a Japanese and Chinese architectural air, during the day. In the evening, this temple lights up with traditional Japanese lights. For information, it is about twenty minutes from the east of the city center and five minutes from Asakusa station.

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1. Senso-ji, a Japanese temple steeped in history, the oldest in Tokyo

A woman posing in front of the Senso-ji with a traditional Japanese outfit Photo credit: StockByM

2. Todai-ji in Nara, Japan’s largest and main building dedicated to Buddhism

Tourists admiring the beauty of the Todai-ji Buddhism temple Photo credit: orpheus26

What to do in Japan? Visit the Todai-ji Temple You will be advised by a local guide or relatives who know the land of the rising sun. This temple is a illustration of the know-how of the Japanese in matters of construction. It is quite simply the largest wooden building in the country, and even in the world. You will also find a huge Buddha statue there. According to the sayings, a person of average height can enter the nostril of the statue. Outside, this temple of Buddhism, located in Nara, presents a traditional decoration which makes all its charm.

3. The Japanese Arakura Sengen shrine and its pagoda with a view of Mount Fuji

The Arakura Sengen pagoda which allows you to look at Mount Fuji. Photo credit: DoctorEgg

In Japan, you will be advised to visit a shrine to experience the true beauty of Japanese architecture and Mount Fuji. Thanks to Arakura Sengen Shrine, you can do both at the same time. This place is located in a peaceful and wooded area. It is distinguished by a giant red torii and the presence of a five-storey pagoda called Chureito, another Japanese architectural marvel. Being on the mountain above the city of Fujiyoshida, it allows for a good view of Mount Fuji. This shrine is one of the must-visit places in Japan.

4. Yamadera, one of the most beautiful Japanese Buddhist temples being built on a mountain

Japanese people visiting the Yamadera temple built on a mountain Photo credit: thanyarat07

In Yamagata, about 400 km from Tokyo, hides a beautiful and ancient temple known as Yamadera. It is one of the temples that illustrate the technicality of the Japanese. It is aesthetic while being built on the side of a mountain. It is this part that most attracts tourists and local visitors. In addition, the temple overlooks a breathtaking scenery below and around. Visitors all come back delighted, saying that the detour is worth it. This place is considered one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in Japan.

5. Meiji Jingu Shinto Shrine, a Japanese sacred domain steeped in popular culture

Local citizens about to enter the Meiji Jingu Photo credit: font83

When you ask a guide to list temples or shrines to visit, the name of Meiji Jingu will always be mentioned. It is one of the most peaceful places in Japan with its 70 hectares of calm forests. Built in 1920, this shrine houses monuments dedicated to the royal families of yesteryear, including Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It is one of the most important Shinto shrines in the country. It is one of the most visited thanks to its beauty and the tranquility it offers. The New Year festival also attracts visitors who also flock for a prayer ceremony. In short, this shrine, in Shibuya, Tokyo, is to be visited for the beauty of the place, the history and the meditation.

6. Ryoan-ji dedicated to Buddhism and its famous Zen garden

The Japanese Zen garden at Ryoan-ji Photo credit: vanbeets

Sometimes the beauty of a place is in its simplicity. The Ryoan-ji temple, located in Kyoto, is the perfect illustration. The architecture resembles Japanese ancestral buildings, with sloping tiled roofs on both sides. Wood is also omnipresent as well as 15 austere rocks inviting meditation. The most interesting in this place and undoubtedly what attracts visitors is its famous Zen garden. It is perfectly laid out, giving a certain charm to this place of prayer and meditation. The whole overlooks a film set. In addition, the temple is located in the middle of the forest.

7. Fushimi-inari shrine and its traditional building with 10,000 toriis

Visitors crossing the Fushimi-inari toriis Photo credit: nedjelly

About fifteen minutes from the city center, Fushimi-inari is a beautiful shrine one of a kind. At first glance, this is a traditional shrine. As you move forward, you will quickly notice that the construction is spectacular. You cross one torii after another without being certain that there is an end on the gigantic stone staircase. Indeed, 10,000 toriis have been built in this sanctuary, which gives it its charm. In addition, this place is the setting for many cultural events. This magnificent place is also classified as a National Treasure containing cultural assets that invite you to visit.

8. The Kiyomizy-Dera Buddhist temple in Gion and its fountain of youth, one of the most visited places in Japan

The Kiyomizy-Dera with the lights on in the evening Photo credit: koji_0508

Kiyomizy-Dera is often called a magical place, and rightly so. It is located not far from one of the most beautiful areas in Japan. The temple is also in the middle of a landscape conducive to meditation. Regarding the construction, it was made on giant stilts, making this temple even more impressive. This architectural quality attracts a large part of local, Chinese and European visitors. The other part is interested in the fountain of youth that is there. A long queue is to be expected for anyone wishing to test the local belief. It is said that whoever drinks the sacred water from its waterfall will have a long life. This belief is one of the reasons for some to opt for this original destination in Kyoto.

9. Heian Jingu Shrine, a Japanese wonder with sprawling gardens

Heian Jingu Shrine before visitors arrive Photo credit: SeanPavonePhoto

the Heian Jingu Shrine is recent, but that does not detract from its charm. It bears similarities to the Kyoto Imperial Palace of the Heian period. However, the structures are more colorful and cheerful. Behind this fairly traditional and common framework lies A real haven of peace. The sanctuary offers the visit of vast gardens perfectly landscaped and a deck overlooking a lake. The proposed environment is conducive to meditation and prayer. You can rest there quietly to regain your strength after a long trip, for example. For information, this shrine is located about 15 minutes from the Higashiyama subway.

10. The sacred Sanjusangen-do with its 1,001 life-size images of the goddess Kannon

The Sanhusangen-do seen from the outside Photo credit: MasaoTaira

Sanjusangen-do Temple is a must-visit for religion, meditation, and above all, its beauty. The temple features a traditional Japanese architecture outdoors. It can attract a lot of history buffs and old buildings. Here, the real surprise is inside. Indeed, this sacred place houses the largest number of religious statues in the country. Just for the goddess Kannon, 1,001 life-size images are present in this place located in Kyoto.

11. The Golden Pavilion or Kinkakuji, a heavenly place for theBuddhism

A tourist family enjoying the view from outside the Golden Pavilion Photo credit: tang90246

It is impossible to miss the Kinkakuji by evoking the beautiful temples and shrines in Japan. This sacred place is always in the list just for its golden side. It is a reconstruction of the Golden Pavilion which burned down in 1950. Yet, this temple still attracts visitors. It is even one of the most famous temples in Kyoto, if not Japan. This replica was built in 1955 respecting the characteristic features of the original version. In addition, this temple is located in a heavenly setting to absolutely see.

12. Ancient Shitennoji Shrine with its symmetrical architecture

The roof and the pagoda of the Shitennoji temple Photo credit: brunocoelhopt

Fans of the field of architecture will especially appreciate this visit. Shitennoji Temple in Osaka was built more than 1,400 years ago. However, the building presents an almost perfect symmetry. For the time, it was a real feat that fascinates many architects until today. Inside, this place offers a clean, calm and heavenly environment. It invites meditation and prayer. This architectural marvel is located about ten minutes from JR Tennoji station. It can be visited between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

13. The Meiji-Jingu in the capital of the Land of the Rising Sun

The giant gate serving as the entrance to the Meiji-Jingu temple Photo credit: bushton3

Ideally located in Yoyogi Park, Meiji-Jingu Shrine is a must-visit place in Tokyo. For meditation or a quiet walk, this is the ideal place. The site offers splendid gardens thought-provoking and calming. It also contains two ancient shrines that have become museums dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. In addition to visiting Japanese gardens, history buffs can learn more about the rulers of this country.

14. Ginkaku-ji Buddhist Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Ginkaku-ji temple seen from the other side of a lakePhoto credit: SeanPavonePhoto

Ginkaku-ji Temple is also a popular attraction in Japan, especially for tourists. This temple, also called the Golden Pavilion, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This aspect arouses the curiosity of European and Chinese tourists. In addition, the temple offers a perfect illustration of the architecture of the Higashiyama culture. It is constituted by a main traditional building, a silver pavilion and the famous sand garden. All these aspects make it one of the best attractions in Kyoto. To get there, take bus lines 32, 100, 203 or 204 to the Ginkakuji-michi stop.

15. Itsukushima Floating Shrine, near a giant Torii

An overview of the Itsukushima floating temple with a magnificent setting Photo credit: Sean Pavone

Itsukushima is a separate case since it is an island. You wonder what a island in this list? The reason is that the island of Itsukushima or Miyajima is considered a shinto shrine fully fledged. On your way there, you cross its red foot torii in the water if the tide is high. Then you can also admire the proposed floating shrine. According to historians, this sanctuary is over 1,400 years old. Today it is considered one of the most beautiful sites in Japan. Moreover, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Interestingly, it is possible to admire the O-Torii Gate up close when the tide is low, because you can walk there.

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15 Most Beautiful Japanese Temples and Shrines

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