Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are everywhere in Japan. People stop in to pray to ancestors, or to commemorate a milestone birthday or occasion. At both shrines and temples, worshippers can purchase
Kyoto’s famed Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a must-see. Officially named Rokuonji, the Zen temple is covered in gold leaf and makes a stunning reflection, along with the surrounding garden, in the temple’s adjacent pond.
Kinkakuji was the inspiration for writer Yukio Mishima’s novel of the same name.
Another Kyoto favorite, the millennium-old Kiyomizudera perches on a cliff overlooking the
The temple complex has a striking five-tiered pavilion that’s a
Despite its name, which translates to Temple of the Silver Pavilion, Kyoto’s Ginkakuji is not covered in silver.
This Zen temple has its own, if more understated, beauty, with a famous Zen sand garden, meticulously cared for by the temple’s monks.
Up in northern Kyoto, the grounds of the Zen temple Ryoanji feature expansive gardens, including its acclaimed Zen rock garden.
The temple also has a peaceful restaurant called Seigenin that serves tofu-based
The most famous shrine in Tokyo, Meiji Shrine is an Imperial Shrine, dedicated to the enshrined spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
This massive shrine complex sits in the middle of Tokyo, its grounds adjacent to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku Station.
Worshippers flock here to pray and be blessed by the healing incense smoke.
Itsukushima Shrine near Hiroshima is known for its floating torii, the red-painted gate that marks the entrance to the shrine. The gate sits in the water in front of the island where the shrine is found.
Wild deer, said to be sacred, populate the island.
Osaka’s Shitennoji is one of the country’s oldest temples, dating back to 593. Built by Prince Shotoku, a champion of Buddhism, the temple
Kushida Shrine in Hakata, Fukuoka, is a
The shrine is a focal point for the Hakata Yamakasa Gion Festival, and portable shrines that are carried as floats can be seen here.
Located in beautiful historic Kamakura, Engakuji is one of the country’s most important Zen Buddhist temples.
Built into the hillside, the temple is surrounded by lush forest and offers picturesque views of Kamakura. The autumn foliage here is especially stunning.
Very popular at new year and in the spring, the expansive Hokkaido Shrine is surrounded by nature.
It’s a fetching sight when blanketed in snow or abloom with cherry blossoms in the spring. The shrine, located in Sapporo, enshrines four deities.
Japan is one of the most charming countries in the world, with a rich history and wealth of hidden beauty. But where do you start? Our local insider picks the top 5 landmarks to kick-start your Japanese adventure.
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