The 19 Best Temples To Visit In Japan

Are you in search of a spiritual escape? Look no further than Japan’s many beautiful temples.

This incredible country is home to some genuinely awe-inspiring places of worship and contemplation that draw people from all over the globe.

From the grandeur of Tokyo’s Sensoji Temple to the serene atmosphere at Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera, countless sites exist for those seeking respite from their everyday lives.

Here, we present 19 of the best temples to explore in Japan for an unforgettable experience full of peace and freedom.

These breathtaking religious monuments promise something special for everyone, from ancient shrines, hidden deep in forests or atop mountains to modern megachurches set against bustling cityscapes.

Every visit comes a chance to learn more about Japanese culture and its long history and find inner clarity within yourself – just like so many have before you.

So come with us on this journey into one of Asia’s most vibrant countries!


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1) Engaku-Ji (Kamakura)

Engaku-ji is like a castle in the air; its towering walls, intricate carvings, and vibrant colors make it one of Japan’s most fascinating temples.

This sublime temple complex in Kamakura has been around since 1282 CE, making it an incredible place to explore the history of Japan.

The architecture of Engaku-ji is nothing short of remarkable. Its five-story pagoda stands tall with grace and beauty, while its vast array of statues offers visitors insight into Japanese Buddhist culture.

The main hall consists of two stories with numerous shrines dedicated to revered monks from different lineages, each filled with stunning sculptures that tell their respective tales.

The courtyard features several exquisite gardens complete with ponds and waterfalls.

In terms of significance, Engaku-ji was once home to some of Zen Buddhism’s great minds, such as Eisai Zenji, who brought tea-drinking ceremonies to Japan from China during his pilgrimage there in 1191 CE.

Today, this historic site is an important center for learning about Japan’s traditional philosophy and cultural practices.

Visitors can appreciate the ancient teachings by participating in meditation classes still held here today or taking part in rituals such as incense offerings at the main shrine.

For more information about Hokokuji Temple, click here! (Official Website)

2) Senso-Ji (Tokyo)


Located in Asakusa, this Buddhist temple is a must-see for any traveler to Japan. With its deep history and stunning architecture, it’s no surprise that millions flock here year after year.

Senso-ji was first built in 645 AD by two brothers who discovered a golden statue of Kannon (the goddess of mercy) while fishing in the nearby Sumida River.

The temple has been rebuilt several times over the centuries due to fire damage or natural disasters. Today’s beautiful structure is an example of traditional Japanese architecture with bright red gates and a distinctive five-story pagoda.

The festivals held at Senso-ji are just as impressive as the building itself. One of these events is Sanja Matsuri, which takes place every May and draws about 1 million visitors yearly!

During this three-day celebration, more than 100 mikoshis (portable shrines) parade around the streets near Senso ji shrine accompanied by drums and flutes playing traditional music. It’s truly a sight to behold!

If you’re looking for a unique experience during your visit to Japan, then be sure to include a trip to Senso-ji on your list.

For more information about Sensoji Temple, click here! (Official Website)

3) Meiji Shrine (Tokyo)

Meiji Shrine

The Meiji Shrine is the Shinto shrine honoring the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken.

It was built in 1920 on the original site intended for it when Tokyo was being planned after the fall of Japan during World War II.

The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji (Mutsuhito) and his wife, Empress Shoken, and it is visited by thousands of people every year.

During this slow walk through the forested paths that lead to the shrine, you will see many different kinds of people here.

There are over 3,000 Japanese maple trees on the shrine grounds.

Along with Yasukuni Shrine (which honors Japan’s war dead), Meiji Shrine is the very spiritual center of Tokyo.

You can find Meiji Shrine by taking a 1-minute walk from Harajuku Station, Meiji Jingu Mae Station, or the JR Yamanote train line to Harajuku Station.

For more information about Meiji Shrine, click here! (Official Website)

4) Fushimi Inari-Taisha (Kyoto)


Fushimi Inari-Taisha in Kyoto is one of Japan’s most popular and historically significant temples. Its cultural significance stems from its strong ties to Shintoism – a religion often associated with Japanese culture.

The temple’s grounds comprise two shrines that house approximately 32 000 torii gates (an iconic symbol of Japan) along a path leading up Mt Inari. It’s an incredible opportunity for visitors to explore history and take in breathtaking views!

The symbolism behind Fushimi Inari-Taisha goes beyond just being a religious site; it also provides insight into many aspects of traditional Japanese life, like business success, fertility, health, and longevity.

Tourists can wander through the winding paths lined with vermillion torii gates while soaking in their spiritual atmosphere.

The presence of foxes throughout the area further reinforces these notions – they serve as messengers between gods and humans, according to shrine legend.

Here you will have the chance to truly understand why this place holds such high importance within Japan and across Asia, too – making it one of Japan’s top 15 must-see temples!

5) Yakushiji Temple, Nara


Yakushi-Ji is a Buddhist temple complex (Kokubun-Ji) located northeast of Nara Park.

The main attraction is the Kondo Hall, which houses Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing and medicine.

The Dainichi-do Hall contains the world’s giant bronze statue of the Vairocana Buddha.

Yakushi-Ji Temple was one of the Imperial and government-supported temples rather than the Temple maintained by the Buddhist community.

The Yakushi-Ji Temple represents Indian architecture, which influenced Japanese architecture then.

The construction of this Temple underwent many stages throughout history. Most buildings were built in the late style, which was prevalent then. The Temple is categorized as one of “The Ancient Temples,” the oldest existing temples in Japan.

You can find Yakushi-Ji Temple by taking a 4-minute bus ride from Yamato Saidaiji Station.

For more information about Yakushi-Ji Temple, click here! (Official Website)

6) Shitennoji Temple, Osaka

Shitennoji Temple

Shitenno-Ji Temple is one of Japan’s oldest temples, initially built-in 593. It was destroyed by fire and reconstructed many times over the centuries.

The five-story pagoda (about 44 meters high) is designated as a national treasure.

The Temple includes several buildings, including the main hall, which houses two wooden statues of the Shitenno, Buddhist guardian deities.

The Temple is known as the “All Three Together Temple” because it glorifies the four heavenly kings and the Shitenno who protect Buddhism.

You can see other buildings near this main hall, including gateways and pagodas.

You can find Shitennoji Temple by taking the train from the Osaka subway line to Shitennoji-Mae Station.

For more information about Shitennoji Temple, click here! (Official Website)

7) Tenryu-Ji Temple (Arashiyama, Kyoto)

Tenryu-Ji Temple

Tenryu-Ji Temple is located in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. The Temple was initially built in 1339 by shogun Ashikaga Takauji.

It was burned down during an attack but reconstructed in 1591.

The main hall is a National Treasure and houses two statues of the Amida Buddha.

The Temple is well known for its Japanese garden, which covers approximately 100,000 square meters.

You can admire the changing four seasons in the park during your visit to this Temple.

Tenryu-Ji Temple has a “Koto Senjo Tour” (Sound and Light Show) in the summer.

They play music and light up the Temple and the garden to show you a different side of this stunning Temple.

You can find Tenryu-Ji Temple by bus from Kyoto or Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Arashiyama Line.

For more information about Tenryu-Ji, click here! (Official Website)

8) Ginkaku-Ji (Kyoto)


Ginkaku-ji, or the Silver Pavilion, is a stunningly beautiful temple in Kyoto.

It’s one of the most important sites to visit during your travels in Japan, and its history is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and tradition.

Once upon a time, it was built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa as his retirement villa but was later converted into a Zen temple complex by his son.

Exploring Ginkaku-ji’s grounds will transport you back centuries ago due to its meticulously maintained architecture which stands among well-manicured gardens filled with lush vegetation.

Its two main halls feature brilliant gold leaf exteriors that are sure to be an awe-inspiring sight for all visitors.

Whether you’re looking for cultural significance or simply want to take in the beauty of the pavilion and its surroundings, visiting Ginkaku-ji should quickly satisfy any traveler’s desires!

For more information about Ginkaku-Ji Temple, click here! (Official Website)

You can also take a virtual tour by clicking here.

9) Todai-Ji (Nara)


Todai-ji in Nara is one of Japan’s most iconic temples and a must-see for any traveler. It was built over 1,300 years ago, making it one of the oldest structures in the country.

Todai-ji’s history speaks to its significance as an important symbol of Buddhism: construction began in 752 CE under Emperor Shomu, who wanted to create a temple that would serve as a powerful reminder of his devotion to the religion.

The great hall at Todai-ji once housed 15 meters tall bronze statue of Buddha – the giant such statue ever made in Japan – until it was destroyed by fire in 1180 though some remains have been restored.

The architecture of this majestic temple is awe-inspiring; it has seven large buildings surrounded by two concentric walls with four gates on each side.

This design reflects the Buddhist belief that many gods exist within our universe, so they serve as guardians around Todai-ji and protect against evil influences.

Its colossal size demonstrates its importance throughout Japanese culture – as a religious structure and political center where emperors could meet with their court members or other dignitaries from foreign countries.

Today, visitors can explore these grand halls and appreciate their spiritual beauty and historical relevance.

In addition to being an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over Asia, tourists flock here year-round and gain insight into how traditional Japanese life used to be lived centuries ago.

For more information about Todai-Ji, click here! (Official Website)

10) Ryoan-Ji (Kyoto)


Ryoan-ji is a Zen temple located in Kyoto, Japan. With its tranquil atmosphere and stunning architecture, it’s no surprise that this temple has become one of the most popular attractions for tourists visiting Japan.

Ryoan-ji’s history dates back to 1450 when Hosokawa Katsumoto founded it as part of his residence. Since then, it has been passed down through generations until today, serving as a place of meditation and contemplation.

Visiting Ryoan-ji is an experience like no other. You can explore the beautiful gardens, admire the unique rock garden, or simply relax in the peaceful environment.

The architecture of Ryoan-ji is also worth noting, with its wooden buildings and large gates making it a sight to behold!

Whether you are looking for relaxation or want to learn more about Japanese culture, there’s something here for everyone – make sure you add Ryoan-ji to your itinerary when planning your trip to Japan.

For more information about Ryoanji, click here! (Japan Travel Website)

11) Kiyomizu-Dera (Kyoto)

Kiyomizu-dera, located in Kyoto, is one of Japan’s most celebrated temples. Known for its long and storied history that dates back over 1,200 years, it has become a symbol of the city and an essential part of Japanese culture.

Architecturally speaking, Kiyomizu-dera stands out among other temples due to its unique style; the main hall is supported by tall wooden pillars above a cliff that overlooks the Otowa waterfall below.

This temple’s cultural significance permeates every aspect of Kiyomizu-dera as visitors are welcomed with ancient rituals such as purifying themselves with water from the Ottawa waterfall before entering the grounds.

The site also features many Buddhist statues and artifacts, demonstrating how deeply rooted Buddhism is in Japanese society.

For those who seek freedom or just want to appreciate authentic architecture and history, visiting Kiyomizu-dera should be on their list when traveling in Japan.

For more information about Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, click here! ( Website)

12) Horyu-Ji (Nara)


Horyu-ji, located in Nara Prefecture, is a temple that boasts an incredible history and cultural significance.

As Japan’s oldest surviving wooden structure, it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993—and for good reason!

The ancient Buddhist complex houses many artifacts integral to Japanese culture, including the five-story pagoda and Yakushi Triad (a sculpture of Buddha surrounded by two attendants).

The conservation efforts at Horyu-ji have been ongoing since its founding in 607 CE.

Despite countless natural disasters, the temple remains intact today due to strict maintenance protocols implemented by priests and local volunteers.

It’s also one of the most important sites for studying classical Japanese architecture, making it an invaluable resource for preserving traditional building techniques and design elements.

In addition to its historical importance, Horyu-ji serves as an iconic symbol of peace and harmony within Japan’s religious landscape.

All who visit can feel the spiritual energy emanating from this sacred site – so be sure to take your time here during your travels through Japan!

For more information about Horyu-Ji, click here! (Official Website)

13) Kinkaku-Ji (Kyoto)


Kinkaku-ji, known as the “Golden Pavilion” in Kyoto, is one of Japan’s most iconic temples. Built during the Muromachi period (1337–1573), this temple stands atop a serene pond that reflects its beauty and grandeur.

Kinkaku-ji has been restored numerous times since its construction due to fires caused by arsonists and other natural disasters; however, it still embodies the same spiritual energy seen centuries ago.

The architecture of Kinkaku-ji is based on traditional Japanese Zen style design, with three stories covered in gold leaf and topped off with an elegant phoenix ornamentation on top of the roof.

The first story was built in shinden style, used for aristocrats’ residences during the Heian Period (794 – 1185).

The second story houses a Buddhist shrine dedicated to Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who founded the temple while ruling over his family line from 1358 – 1408. Lastly, the third story contains Hojo Hall, which served as a memorial hall for him after he died in 1408.

This temple holds great significance for many people throughout Japan because Ashikaga Yoshimitsu strongly believed in Buddhism and wanted to create a place where people could come together to reflect upon life’s true meaning.

He achieved his goal when Kinkaku-ji opened up to visitors hundreds of years later.

Kinkaku-ji remains widely celebrated today, bringing thousands of tourists worldwide each year looking to experience its historic charm and timeless value.

Whether you’re interested in learning about kinkaku ji’s history or simply want to bask in its architectural beauty, add Kinkaku-ji to your next journey through Japan!

For more information about Kinkakuji, click here! (Official Website)

14) Toji Temple, Kyoto


Toji Temple is famous for being one of the nation’s three significant pagodas and housing Japan’s tallest pagodas.

It is located on a large hill in Eastern Kyoto, regarded as the city’s outskirts during its time. You can climb up to see impressive architecture and enjoy great city views!

You can find Toji Temple by bus 32, 205, or 206 from JR Kyoto Station to the Toji-in Guchi stop.

15) Hase-Dera (Kamakura)


From the ancient city of Nara to the bustling town of Kamakura, Hase-Dera is a beautiful temple complex that is a testament to its long and illustrious history.

As you enter the grand gates, prepare for an awe-inspiring experience as it offers an unparalleled spiritual connection with nature.

This majestic site will take you on a journey back to 8th century Japan – when Prince Shotoku built his first temples here.

The grand wooden structure surrounding Kannon Hall houses many treasures from centuries ago, making it one of Japan’s most treasured sites.

Visitors are encouraged to respect the guidelines set out by Hase-dera’s authorities regarding proper conduct and attire during their visit.

The spiritual significance of this sacred place can be felt right away, and visitors often find themselves entering deep meditative states while exploring its grounds.

Whether participating in traditional Buddhist ceremonies or simply enjoying the serene atmosphere, every moment at Hase-dera will surely leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

16) Sanjusangen-Do (Kyoto)


Known as one of Japan’s most impressive and majestic temples—it lived up to its reputation!

The sweeping view from the entrance was breathtaking – like something out of a postcard. The temple dates back to 1164, when it was founded by Emperor Go-Shirakawa, and is renowned for its religious significance in Buddhism.

Its name derives from the fact that it’s 120 meters long, making it an incredible sight to behold – with over 1001 statues of Kannon lined up along both sides. It was truly awe-inspiring and humbling all at once.

This marvelous architecture has stood tall throughout history, surviving two great fires, a testament to its strength and resilience. A visit here will be sure to leave you feeling inspired and energized.

17) Toshogu Shrine (Nikko)

Toshogu Shrine

Toshogu Shrine, located in the Nikko City of the Tochigi Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most revered shrines and a must-see destination for any traveler. Its long and illustrious history dates back to 1617 when Tokugawa Ieyasu founded it.

The shrine is home to some stunning architecture, making it an essential part of Japan’s cultural heritage. The intricate carvings on the main building are unlike anything else in the country–they tell stories about shogunate rulers and deities from Japan’s Shinto faith.

The spiritual significance of Toshogu Shrine goes beyond its physical beauty–it has been used for centuries as a place of worship and contemplation.

Many visitors come here to seek guidance or to meditate. Its peaceful atmosphere provides solace and respite from the hustle and bustle of modern life, allowing travelers to reconnect with their inner selves while surrounded by nature’s wonders.

18) Byodo-In (Uji)


Byodo-in in Uji, Kyoto, is a temple of remarkable beauty and history. It was initially built as part of the Fujiwara Clan’s retirement villa complex during the Heian Period (794–1185).

This is one of Japan’s most iconic temples and an essential stop for anyone exploring Kyoto sightseeing.

The Byodo-in Phoenix Hall houses the temple’s central statue of Amitabha Buddha and has been designated a national treasure. Its unique architecture features two golden phoenixes on either side of the hall that looks ready to take off the flight at any moment!

The grounds also feature stunning gardens with ponds, streams, bridges, and colorful maple trees, creating a beautiful backdrop when visiting this historical site.

Visitors can learn more about its fascinating past while admiring the vibrant colors displayed throughout all four seasons.

For those who want to experience something extraordinary, it’s worth checking out Byodo-in near Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple – another excellent spot for Kyoto sightseeing.

19) Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima)

Itsukushima Shrine

Leaving the temple of Byodo-in, you will be in awe once more as you get your first glimpse of Itsukushima Shrine.

Located on Miyajima Island off the coast of Hiroshima Prefecture and surrounded by breathtaking water views, this shrine is a must-see destination for any Japanese traveler.

One interesting statistic about Itsukushima Shrine is that it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

This incredible structure was built over 1,400 years ago, according to ancient Itsukushima legends, making it one of the oldest structures in Japan still standing today.

The shrine’s unique architecture – with buildings seemingly floating on the sea – makes it an iconic symbol of Japanese culture worldwide.

To truly experience Itsukushima’s history, visitors can participate in traditional ceremonies like Kagura performances or explore nearby attractions such as Daishoin Temple or Senjokaku Hall.

Planning Your Temple Visits: Tips And Recommendations

What could be more liberating than a journey to Japan’s temples?

With their stunning architecture, tranquil atmosphere, and incredible history, these sacred sites will surely give you an awe-inspiring experience.

Whether you plan on visiting one or all 15 of the best temples in Japan, there is no doubt that your trip will be unforgettable!

When planning for your temple visits, it’s essential to consider some critical travel logistics:

  • Packing lists: List essential items like comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Don’t forget any religious objects or offerings if they’re allowed at the site.
  • Budgeting tips: Research entrance fees and transport costs beforehand so you can budget accordingly. Look out for discounts available with certain rail passes and other deals too!
  • Other considerations: Prepare yourself mentally and spiritually before embarking on your travels. Consider researching traditional customs beforehand to avoid offending anyone while enjoying yourself responsibly during your visit unknowingly.

The beauty of traveling through Japan’s temples lies in its ability to offer both spiritual enlightenment and physical exploration – two things many crave after being confined indoors for long periods due to pandemics or lockdowns.

Whether you join organized tours or go solo, take this opportunity now to explore these majestic places and immerse yourself in centuries-old traditions.

What is the most visited Temple in Japan?

The most visited Temple in Japan is Senso-Ji Temple (浅草寺) in Asakusa, Tokyo. The Honden is Senso-ji’s most crucial temple hall because it houses three national treasures: the Kaminari-mon Gate, the Akabashi Bridge, and the giant bronze bell.

Where in Japan has the most temples?

Kyoto has the most temples of any city in Japan. It’s well known for its many beautiful Buddhist temples – like Kiyomizu-Dera Temple (清水寺) or Ginkaku-Ji Temple (銀閣寺).

Why is Fushimi Inari called the ‘Japanese Temple’?

Fushimi Inari is called the ‘Japanese Temple’ because it was initially built to worship the Shinto god Inari, and many torii gates stretch up Mt. Inari’s slopes. It was also given this name because these torii gates resemble those found at Buddhist temples.

Who built Fushimi Inari?

Toyotomi Hideyoshi built Fushimi Inari in the early 1600s CE. Many locals were upset about this decision because they worshiped Inari at another shrine. Still, when they eventually saw how beautiful it turned out, they agreed that Toyotomi Hideyoshi did an excellent job.

What is the name of Fushimi Inari’s main shrine?

The Fushimi Inari-Taisha is the main Inari shrine, where the approach to the Temple is lined by around a thousand torii. Typically, Inari shrines feature guardian figures of foxes or kitsunes as guardians. Many regard these messenger creatures as representations of Inari, even though this representation isn’t exactly correct.

What is the biggest Temple in Japan?

The biggest Temple in Japan is Todai-Ji Temple (東大寺) in Nara. It was built by Emperor Shomu, who ruled from the year 745 CE to the year 764 CE. The main hall at this Buddhist Temple houses an enormous bronze statue of Buddha over 15 meters tall! It’s so big that you can watch birds flying around its head.

What is the most famous Temple in Japan?

The most famous Temple in Japan is probably Senso-Ji Temple (or Asakusa Kannon) in Tokyo. It was built in 628 CE and attracted over 30 million visitors yearly.

Which city in Japan has the Ryosoku in Temple?

The Ryosoku in Temple is found in Kyoto. It was initially built to hold the remains of soldiers, but it became a Zen Buddhist temple during 1319 CE. This Buddhist Temple is famous for its moss garden, which has over 3,000 plants!

What is the oldest Buddhist Temple built in Japan?

The oldest Buddhism temple built in Japan is Horyu-Ji Temple (法隆寺) in Ikaruga, Nara. It was completed during the year 607 CE. This Buddhist Temple comes from ‘Hourai,’ a mountain in China where Buddha meditated for 1,000 years! The Main Hall at Horyu-Ji is famous because it houses a wooden statue of Buddha’s disciple, the Yumedono Kannon.

How many Buddhist temples are in Kyoto?

There are over 1,600 Buddhist temples in Kyoto. This city has many shrines and temples categorized by location, like Eastern Hokon, Western Hokon, Southern Hokon, and Northern Hokon.

What do Japanese people do in temples?

They may visit a Buddhist temple to learn about Buddhist teachings and rituals. Buddhists often pray at a temple or shrine as part of their daily routine. Some people also visit a temple to worship the Kami who live there.

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