Temples in Japan
English | Japanese
Among the many sightseeing spots in Japan, we will introduce the ones related to temples by prefecture.
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Table of contents
Risshaku-ji Temple, also known as Yamadera, is a historic Buddhist temple complex in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. Its breathtaking mountain location features over 1,000 stone steps, offering visitors a challenging yet rewarding hike with stunning panoramic views. The temple's serene atmosphere, ancient architecture, and beautiful surrounding nature make it a must-visit spiritual and scenic destination.
Asakusa Temple, located in Taito Ward, Tokyo, is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It is affectionately known as Asakusa Kannon. It's a popular spot that attracts many tourists, and the famous Kaminarimon gate with its huge red lantern is considered a symbol of Asakusa. Besides the main hall, the temple grounds have many attractions, including Nakamise-dori, where you can buy souvenirs, and the Five-Storied Pagoda.
Kamakura Hasedera is known for its seasonal blossoms, especially the 2,500 hydrangea plants of 40 varieties that adorn the scenic walking trail during the rainy season. Moreover, from the temple grounds, one can enjoy panoramic views that extend from the cityscape of Kamakura to Yuigahama Beach, Sagami Bay, and Izu Oshima Island, making it a popular scenic spot to appreciate the changing beauty of the seasons.
Kawasaki Daishi, or Heiken-ji, is a prominent Buddhist temple in Kawasaki, Japan, known for its rich history and vibrant atmosphere. Visitors are drawn to the temple's stunning architecture, lush gardens, and lively Nakamise shopping street. As a spiritual destination, it provides a peaceful escape from the bustling city, while offering a glimpse into traditional Japanese culture.
Hokokuji Temple is a serene Zen sanctuary in Kamakura, Japan, featuring a beautiful bamboo grove, traditional tea ceremony, and stunning architecture. Discover tranquility while strolling through the lush garden, and experience Japan's rich history as you explore this captivating site. Immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere of Hokokuji, where ancient tradition and natural beauty coalesce.
Narita-san Shinshoji Temple is a historic and captivating Buddhist temple complex in Narita, Japan, renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, and serene atmosphere. Visitors can marvel at the impressive pagoda, explore the tranquil gardens, and attend traditional ceremonies and events. A visit to Narita-san Shinshoji Temple offers a unique opportunity to experience Japanese spirituality and culture in a beautiful and peaceful setting.
Osu Kannon is a prominent Buddhist temple in Aichi Prefecture, known for its red architectural beauty and the grand statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Adjacent to the temple is the bustling Osu Shopping District, blending the modern and the traditional. The temple hosts the Kōshin Festival, a vibrant flea market on the 18th and 28th of each month. The temple grounds come alive with cherry blossoms in spring and colorful leaves in autumn, offering a captivating spectacle. The Shinpukuji Library, part of the temple, houses a treasure of Buddhist scriptures, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
Zenkoji Temple, located in Nagano City, is one of Japan's most important Buddhist temples, with a history dating back to the 7th century. The temple is home to the revered "Hibutsu" (hidden Buddha) statue, which is not displayed to the public, lending an air of mystery and spiritual significance. Visitors can experience the beautiful architecture, serene atmosphere, and rich cultural heritage while exploring the temple's expansive grounds and attending its many seasonal events and festivals.
Kiyomizudera is a temple located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, officially known as Otowasan Kiyomizudera. It is believed to have been founded by Kukai, also known as Kobo-Daishi, and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. In particular, the wooden stage of the main hall, known as the 'Stage of Kiyomizu,' juts out over a cliff, offering a sweeping view of the city of Kyoto below. At 'Otowa Waterfall,' it is said that one's wish will come true if they scoop water from one of the three streams.
Kinkaku-ji is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto and is also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its upper two floors completely covered in gold leaf, the temple shines amidst the surrounding verdant trees, presenting a luxurious and dazzling spectacle that is sure to leave an unforgettable impression. If the weather is favorable, you may also get a chance to see the reflection of the inverted Golden Pavilion in the pond in front of it.
Ginkaku-ji, formally known as Jisho-ji, is a Zen temple located in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto city. Built by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa during the Muromachi period, it features architecture and gardens that reflect the culture and art of that time. In particular, the Kannon-den, a national treasure also known as the Silver Pavilion, has given the temple its common name.
Toji Temple is the only remaining relic of Heiankyo. It was established about 1200 years ago and was registered as a World Heritage site in 1994. The five-story pagoda, a symbol of Toji Temple, can be seen from the window of a Shinkansen train. Standing at approximately 55 meters, it is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. On the temple grounds, there's a 120-year-old cherry tree called "Fuji Sakura". When in bloom, the sight of the vibrant flowers with the five-story pagoda in the backdrop is truly magnificent.
Tofuku-ji is a temple located in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto, currently known as a large temple complex housing 25 sub-temples. In addition to the mountain gate and the main hall, the temple is renowned for the three bridges (Tsuuten-kyo Bridge, Gaun-kyo Bridge, Engetsu-kyo Bridge) that span across the valley "Sengyokukan" within the temple grounds, as well as the garden designed by Mirei Shigemori. It is also famous as a representative autumn foliage spot in Kyoto, attracting many tourists in the fall.
The Sanjusangen-do Temple in Kyoto, Japan, is a mesmerizing destination known for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Visitors can marvel at the stunning architecture and serene atmosphere of this 13th-century temple. Discover the unique spiritual and cultural experience that awaits you at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nishi Honganji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a significant center of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Kyoto, featuring magnificent architecture and serene atmosphere. The temple's vast wooden halls, such as the Goei-do and Amida-do, showcase exquisite craftsmanship and artistry. Visitors can also explore the beautiful gardens and appreciate the temple's rich history, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in Japanese culture and spirituality.
Engaku-ji Temple is a serene, historic Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, featuring stunning gardens, a peaceful atmosphere, and seasonal beauty with cherry blossoms and autumn foliage. It's also the home of the iconic "Fukuginkei" painting, which is a masterpiece of Japanese art. Visit Engaku-ji Temple to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and history while enjoying the natural scenery.
Kodai-ji Temple, located in Kyoto, is a stunning Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple known for its exquisite architecture, beautiful gardens, and captivating history. Visitors can admire the elegant tea houses, explore the scenic walking paths, and enjoy the vibrant seasonal foliage. The temple offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere, making it a perfect destination for meditation and contemplation.
The garden with more than 200 maple trees at Jojakkoji Temple displays the beauty of the four seasons throughout the year, and the autumn leaves are especially breathtaking in fall. Located halfway up Mt. Ogura, the temple attracts many visitors with its combination of historical architecture and spectacular natural scenery, including an observatory with a spectacular view of Sagano, an old gate, a thatched Niomon gate, and an eclectic pagoda.
Ninna-ji is a temple founded in 888 by Emperor Uda, and its grounds are home to a multitude of valuable buildings. It's renowned as a cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto, bustling with many tourists in spring. Particularly famous is the 'Omuro Sakura,' a variety of late-blooming cherry blossoms. Additionally, the temple lodgings located within the grounds are available for general public to stay.
Chion-in Temple offers a serene, spiritual experience with its stunning traditional architecture and expansive gardens. Visitors are captivated by the impressive Sanmon gate and enjoy exploring the peaceful temple grounds. This historic site, nestled in the heart of Kyoto, is a must-visit destination for those seeking a taste of Japan's rich cultural heritage.
Kennin-ji Temple, as the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, offers visitors a serene and spiritual atmosphere. With its beautiful Zen gardens, traditional architecture, and exquisite screen paintings, it provides a glimpse into the rich history of Japanese Zen Buddhism. A visit to Kennin-ji is a perfect opportunity to experience tranquility amidst the bustling city while appreciating Japan's cultural heritage.
Byodo-in is a temple located in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, known for the Byodo-in Phoenix Hall, which is depicted on the 10 yen coin. The Phoenix Hall, built on a small island in the Ajiike Pond, has a beautiful symmetrical shape, and was named for its resemblance to a bird spreading its wings. In addition to domestic and international tourists, it has also become a popular destination for school excursions.
Todaiji Temple is the head temple of the Kegon sect located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture. It is famous for its Great Buddha of Nara. Founded during the Nara period under the auspices of Emperor Shomu, the Daibutsu-den was completed in 751. The consecration ceremony for the Daibutsu was held the following year. Popular attractions include the Daibutsu-den, which is one of the largest wooden structures in the world, and the Nigatsu-do, a national treasure. Todaiji Temple is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.
Horyuji Temple is the head temple of the Shotoku Sect located in Ikaruga Town, Ikoma District, Nara Prefecture. It was founded by Emperor Suiko and Prince Shotoku in 607. Although it was once destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt about 1300 years ago and is now the world's oldest existing wooden architecture group. Horyuji Temple, along with Himeji Castle, were the first sites in Japan to be registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Yakushiji is a temple located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and is the head temple of the Hosso sect. Within the temple grounds, there are two three-story pagodas, one of which, the Toto, is an extremely valuable historical structure that has remained since the temple's founding. Additionally, the National Treasure of the Yakushi Triad enshrined in the Kondo is said to be one of the finest masterpieces among Buddha statues from the Hakuho period.
Toshodai-ji is a temple located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, which was established by Jianzhen, a high-ranking monk from the Tang dynasty. The temple features valuable buildings from the Nara period, such as the Kondo and Lecture Hall, and houses many Buddha statues designated as National Treasures. The temple also cherishes lotus flowers, and you can witness the beautiful sight of lotus blooms from the rainy season to summer.
Hasedera Temple is located halfway up the hill of Mount Hatsuseyama in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. Known for the seasonal flowers such as peonies in spring, hydrangeas during the rainy season, and autumn leaves in the fall, it attracts many tourists. There is a staircase called Noborirou with 399 steps, and at the top, you can find a national treasure, the Main Hall. From the stage of the Main Hall, you can enjoy a breathtaking view.
Asuka-dera Temple, also known as Hoko-ji, is one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples, featuring a remarkable Asuka Great Buddha statue. The temple showcases the Asuka Period's architectural style, providing visitors with a glimpse into ancient Japanese history. Surrounded by serene gardens and lush greenery, Asuka-dera is a peaceful and captivating destination for history and culture enthusiasts.
Kofuku-ji is a temple located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and is the head temple of the Hosso sect. Its origin traces back to a temple known as Yamashina-ji, which was constructed in Kyoto. In 710, during the relocation of the capital to Heijo-kyo, it was moved to its current location and renamed Kofuku-ji. It houses Japan's second tallest wooden pagoda, a five-story tower. Moreover, in 2018, the central facility known as the Central Golden Hall was reconstructed for the first time in 301 years. Kofuku-ji is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.
Muro-ji Temple is a serene, mountain-top sanctuary surrounded by lush forests, offering visitors a peaceful retreat from daily life. Rich in history and architecture, its ancient wooden structures, including the five-story pagoda, provide a glimpse into Japan's spiritual past. Seasonal beauty, such as vibrant autumn foliage and blooming cherry blossoms, further enhance the temple's enchanting atmosphere.
Shitennoji Temple is a revered historical site in Osaka, known as one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples. Founded by Prince Shotoku in 593 AD, it showcases remarkable architecture and tranquil grounds. Visitors can experience the temple's rich spiritual heritage through its beautiful pagoda, treasure house, and serene gardens, offering a peaceful retreat from the city's bustling streets.
Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple is a historic site offering a unique blend of spirituality and adventure. The temple, including the gravity-defying Nageiredo Hall, provides a captivating insight into Japanese history and culture. Its serene atmosphere amidst lush greenery makes it a peaceful retreat.
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( Written by Tatsuo Ikura )