Learn more from locals
Our travel stories and itineraries (treks) make sure you have the best information to plan the perfect trip. Sign up today!
Already using trekeffect? Sign In

The Top 10 Temples And Shrines in Japan

April 25, 2014

Ten unforgettable experiences you can only find in Japan

Known as the “Land of the Rising Sun”, Japan is truly a fascinating and intriguing tourist destination that boasts a plethora of majestic historic temples. From Shinto Shrines to Buddhist temples, the country has virtually thousands of temples to offer to its guests. As a matter of fact, Kyoto, a city in Japan, has over 2,000 shrines and temples on its own. What’s more, most of these temples are designated national treasures and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Obviously, selecting the best temples to visit in this beautiful East Asian destination is not an easy endeavor, by any means. With so many temples available, finding the right temples to visit in the country will definitely take a great deal of time and effort on your end. But luckily, we’ve compiled a list that will help you figure out the finest and most celebrated temples and shrines in Japan.

1. Meiji Jingu Shrine

Tokyo is a bustling city known for its lofty skyscrapers and vibrant nightlife scene. Ironically, one of its major tourism draws is an idyllic and serene temple located right at the heart of the city. Nestled in the midst of a lush forest, the Meiji Jingu Shrine is surrounded with a plethora of gigantic evergreen trees that block out the sounds coming from the city. Besides it quaint ambiance, the shrine is also famous for its exquisite architecture as well as its collection of exhibits that are believed to be the personal belongings of Empress Shoken and Emperor Meiju.

Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan

Contact number: +81 3-3379-5511

Opening hours:  5 am to 6 pm daily 

2. Kamakura Hasedera Temple

The Kamakura Hasedera Temple is a beautiful temple widely known as a host to Japan’s biggest wooden image, the Kanoon of Mercy. At 30 feet tall, the Kanoon of Mercy is truly a sight to behold in Japan. Furthermore, it boasts thousands of beautiful and charming statues.

Address: 3 Chome-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016, Japan

Contact number:  +81 467-22-6300

Opening hours: 8 am to 5 pm daily 

3. Sensoji Temple

The Sensoji Temple, or also referred as Asakusa Temple, is a historic Buddhist temple constructed in the earlier parts of the 7th century. A major tourist attraction in Tokyo, the Senosji Temple is one of oldest and most beloved temples in the city. Here, you get to see a gigantic pagoda that will definitely leave you in awe.

Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan

Contact number: +81 3-3842-0181

Opening hours: 24 hours on temple grounds. 6 am to 5 pm on the main hall

4. Horyuji Temple

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, the Horyuji Temple, or also known as the “Temple of the Flourishing Law”, is home to a 32-meter wooden pagoda, which happens to be the oldest wooden structure in the world. Apart from the Pagoda, it also serves as a host to more than 2,000 historical and cultural articles and structures, including over a hundred Important Cultural Properties and National Treasures.

Address:  1-1 Horyuji Sannai, Ikaruga, Ikoma District, Nara Prefecture 636-0115, Japan

Contact number:  +81 745-75-2555

Opening hours:  8:00 am to 5:00 pm (until 4:30 pm from early November to late February)

5. Kiyomizu Temple

In 2007, Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple was nominated as one of the contenders of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Sadly, it wasn’t picked as one of the top 7 sites. But nevertheless, it is an amazing UNESCO World heritage site with a very romantic atmosphere. What’s more, the temple gives you overlooking and panoramic views of Kyoto.

Address: 294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, Japan

Contact number: +81 75-551-1234

Opening hours:  6:00 am to 6:00 pm (until 6:30 pm on holidays and weekends from mid April through July and everyday in August and September)

6. Ninja Temple

Built during the Edo Period by the Maeda rulers and lords, the Myoryuji Temple is an intriguing and fascinating temple you cannot afford to miss during your trip to Japan. Although the temple is not associated with ninjas and assassins, it earned the moniker “Ninja Temple” due to its secret chambers, traps, trick doors, hidden stairways and other deceptive defenses.

Address: 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture 921-8031, Japan

Contact number: +81 76-241-0888

Opening hours:  9:00 to 4:30 am (until 4:00 pm during winter)

7. Kotokuin Temple

The Kotokuin Temple serves as a home to the world famous Kamakura Daibutsu, a towering bronze statue of Buddha. With an impressive height of 40 feet, this bronze statue is the second tallest Buddha figure or statue in the country. As national treasures, the Buddha statue and the Kotokuin Temple have been projected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Address: 4 Chome-2-28 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016, Japan

Contact number: +81 467-22-0703

Opening hours:  8:00 am to 5:30 pm (until 5:00 pm from October to March)

8. Kotohiragu Shrine

Perched on Mount Zozu, the Kotohiragu Shrine has a rather challenging course with over 700 granite steps. Yet, it draws a cluster of tourists every day, who all want to experience its tranquil setting as well as take pictures of its exquisite architectural that showcases a unique blend of Buddhist and Shinto elements.

Address: 〒760-0001 Kagawa Prefecture, Nakatado District, 琴平町892−1

Contact number: +81 877-75-2121

9. Todaiji Temple

Home to the largest Buddha statue in the country, the Todaiji Temple is indeed one of Japan’s top tourist draws. While it is not as dramatic and impressive as the Kamakura Daibutsu, its sheer size makes it a favorite attraction in Nara.

Address: 406-1 Zoshicho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8211, Japan

Contact number and opening hours: Check this website 

10. Toshogu Shrine

Set in a verdant forest, the Toshogu Shrine is a lavish complex that is made up of over a dozen beautiful buildings. Here, you get to feast your eyes on charming wood charming wood carvings and a plethora of Buddhist and Shinto decorations.

Address: 2301 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431, Japan

Contact number: +81 288-54-0560

Opening hours:  8 am to 5 pm 

These 10 majestic and picturesque temples are just a fraction of the numerous temples and shrines available in Japan. To discover the other lovely temples and shrines in this destination, start planning your trip to Japan with Trekeffect!

Alternative Text
Maria Tugayeva
Mariya is a Marketing guru and writer, with a world experience from living and growing up in different countries. Her work quote is: "In a word: pleasure. It's like, my pleasure in other people's leisure." -Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Trainspotting