So, you’ve done all your shopping in Tokyo and you’re tired of the big malls and just need a nice place to relax and take in the culture of Japan. Well, when looking for culture and tradition, Japan’s shrines and temples are the first things you should be looking for! The pretty and sometimes colourful temples in Tokyo are no exception, and here some of the best that you should visit!
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Probably one of the most popular shrines in Japan, Meiji Jingu is nestled in the heart of Tokyo. Surrounded by a forest, the shrine offers a bit of an escape from the busy city just outside its borders. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
Located just outside the lively Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine has approximately 100,000 trees! The Treasure House in its vicinity displays many personal belongings of the Emperor and Empress. Come on weekends for a chance to see a traditional Japanese wedding!
Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Located in Asakusa, just outside Asakusa Station, the temple is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million visitors annually. You’ve definitely seen pictures of the famous Kaminarimon gate, which has become a symbol of the temple.
Leading up to the temple is a shopping street of over 200 meters, called Nakamise. This is where you can find traditional Japanese items being sold such as Yukatas, Kimonos and folding fans. It is also a popular area to try various traditional local snacks and street food, which is always remarkably sanitary in Japan.
The temple is famous for its graveyard where the 47 Ronin are buried. They were a group of leaderless samurai that avenged the death of their master, an incident which has since become legendary in Japan.
The story of the 47 ronin remains as one of the most popular historical epics in Japan, where loyalty and honour are prized as a highly respected characteristics. Some come to pay respects, while others come because the story has been adapted many times in all forms of media.
Kanda myojin Shrine
This Shrine enshrines three deities- Daikokuten, Ebisu and Taira Masakado- a feudal lord who was deified. Many people visit the shrine to pray for prosperity, as it is extremely conveniently located near Akihabara, outside Ochanomizu Station.
The Kanda Festival, known as one of the three great festivals of Japan, is held at the Kanda Myojin Shrine every odd year. Its proximity to Akihabara has also led to some interesting sights within the temple, with tablets decorated with anime girls.
Gotokuji is a pretty little temple in a quiet residential area, outside Gotokuji Station. Not only are the temple grounds really beautiful, but the temple itself has become quite famous for its Maneki Neko Statues.
The path leading up to the main temple has a ridiculously large number of the white beckoning cat figures placed around a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The statues are said to bring good luck and customers into a business, which is why they are commonly found in restaurants. The most widely accepted origin story of these cats links the temple directly to the creation of the Maneki Neko.