Temples and shrines in Tokyo attract thousands of visitors to the city every year, and many date back thousands of years, offering a spiritual retreat plus gorgeous architecture and design. Some of these temples have been rebuilt multiple times, surviving fires, earthquakes, tsunamis and war. Others have stood tall since their original erection. Shrines and temples in this city can be found on just about every street corner.

    In addition to being the capital of Japan, Tokyo is also in many ways the capital of temples and shrines in Japan. Check out some of the most important temples and shrines that are must-sees on your next visit.

    1

    Sensoji Temple

    Visit a massive, historic temple neighbourhood

    Sensoji Temple in historic Asakusa is the oldest temple in Tokyo as well as one of the most visited, with unique architecture and surrounded by shops and stalls. This Buddhist temple's grounds are famed for also housing the Tanuki Temple, whose raccoon-dog spirits are said to protect the surrounding homes and businesses, as well as bring good luck. This temple was built in the year 628 and is known for its imposing and enormous red gate and five-story pagoda structure. It's constantly abuzz with activity and is a place where you can get the feel of old Tokyo.

    Grab a snack, find a souvenir, and explore this elegant and vast complex. It's just 24 minutes east of Tokyo's city centre.

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

    Phone: +81 3-3842-0181

    Map
    2

    Meiji Jingu Shrine

    Visit a popular Shinto shrine

    Meiji Jingu Shrine is among the most visited Shinto shrines in Japan, offering 170 acres of serene evergreen forest and monuments to the spirits of past royalty. The temple was built in 1920 and is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It plays a vital role in the public life of the local populace. A festival is held here every New Year that brings over 3 million visitors to the shrine for a prayer ceremony. Weddings are also often held here, as well as regular celebrations, festivals and rituals.

    Whether it's for history or meditation, this is a popular shrine to visit. It's 10 minutes east of downtown.

    Location: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan

    Open: Daily from 6.20 am to 4.50 pm

    Phone: +81 3-3379-5511

    Map
    3

    Tennoji Temple

    Visit a temple that used to host a massive lottery

    Tennoji Temple offers a scenic location among a wooded cemetery through a long line of cherry trees, with the very archetype of Buddhist serenity and the weight of ages. This temple is over 800 years old and is surrounded by gorgeously landscaped gardens, lawn and trees, with amazing concrete structures, statuary and a giant gate. The centerpiece is a huge, bronze Buddha at prayer. An interesting twist of history is that this spot was once the place where the biggest lottery in Tokyo was run, so you can imagine juxtaposing the serenity of it now with the chaos of a massive giveaway.

    Today, it's the height of natural meditative tranquillity. It's just 30 minutes east of the city centre.

    Location: 7 Chome-14-8 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan

    Phone: +81 3-3821-4474

    Map
    4

    Toshogu Shrine

    See a historic Edo building in the city centre

    Toshogu Shrine in Ueno Park is a significant cultural and spiritual site that dates back to 1627 when it was created to enshrine Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. This massive, elaborate temple is richly decorated with gold and even carries the nickname "Shrine of Gold" as a result. It's surrounded by peonies and cherry blossoms, making it stunning in spring and brilliant in autumn when the leaves turn colors. It's said to be a site of importance for those who seek luck or academic achievement.

    For visitors to the city, it represents the chance to see a historic temple building in the heart of cosmopolitan Tokyo. It's also right in the heart of the city centre.

    Location: 9-88 Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +81 3-3822-3455

    Map
    5

    Tomioka Hachiman Shrine

    Visit a shrine to the history of sumo wrestling

    Tomioka Hachiman Shrine offers a massive shrine made up of 17 smaller shrines dedicated to many Shinto principles and figures, including the founder of sumo wrestling. This unique and beautiful site pays homage to the spirits of prosperity, travel and many other important concepts in Shinto. Many famed sumo wrestlers have their names inscribed here as well as their hand and foot types, displaying the history of sumo wrestling. This is also the home of the annual Fukagawa Hachiman Festival, one of the largest in the Edo area.

    Just steps away from the monument are a wide range of restaurants focused on okonomiyaki and monja-yaki cuisine. It's only 20 minutes east of the city centre.

    Location: 1 Chome-20-3 Tomioka, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0047, Japan

    Open: 44766

    Phone: +81 3-3642-1315

    Map
    6

    Hie Shrine

    Attend a massive cultural festival

    Hie Shrine offers a traditional torii gated structure at the top of a gigantic stone staircase and an ancient structure dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The shrine is a designated National Treasure housing many cultural assets and museum-quality exhibits including many ancient swords including a tachi great sword. It's said that the shrine grants wishes for everything from relationships and matchmaking to family prosperity. Every June, the shrine hosts the Sanno Festival, among the biggest in all of Japan, with dancing, singing and hundreds of lanterns.

    Other events here showcase everything from music to flower arrangements and cultural vacations. It's 16 minutes east of the city centre.

    Location: 2 Chome-10-5 Nagatachō, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0014, Japan

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +81 3-3581-2471

    Map
    7

    Shinagawa Shrine

    See the shrine to food near the imperial palace

    Shinagawa Shrine is a 12th-century shrine originally dedicated to the Shinto god of food, offering a huge torii gate with intricate carvings in each pillar. It's among ten different shrines surrounding the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Despite its proximity to so many popular destinations, the shrine tends to be emptier than others, making it a great place to visit and snap photos of the gorgeous dragon carvings. The only exception is during festival season when it turns into a bustling public market with tons of food stalls.

    Outside of festival season, this temple is a fantastic place to get away from the hustle and bustle and lose yourself in meditative peace. It's right in the heart of the city centre.

    Location: 3 Chome-7-15 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 140-0001, Japan

    Open: 44766

    Phone: +81 3-3474-5575

    Map

    photo by Nova replet laetitia (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Kanda Shrine

    See a classic shrine in the heart of otaku culture

    Kanda Shrine is a historical shrine built to honor the regional Shinto so-chinju of Edo, offering a deeply cultural site that's beloved by locals and features spectacular architecture. This temple is said to bestow prosperity, good relationships and luck in love and life. It's also in the heart of a pop-culture hub of Tokyo with many shops and displays celebrating otaku, anime, manga and video games. You'll see people in colorful cosplay costumes, electronics stores and pop culture cafes all over the area. The temple's colorful architecture always seems to fit right in.

    You can even purchase talismans at the temple gate to bless your electronics from harm. It's only 20 minutes east of the city centre.

    Location: 2 Chome-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan

    Open: 44766

    Phone: +81 3-3254-0753

    Map
    9

    Fukagawa Fudoson

    See a stunning mix of ancient and modern

    Fukagawa Fudoson temple, or more properly Narita-san Fukagawa Fudo-Do, is in the heart of east Tokyo, offering a deep tradition, stunning looks and deep history and tradition. It's an unusual mesh of modern and age-old, with the main worship hall relocated here in the 19th century, next to a new main hall in cubist architectural style. Here you can see many rituals including cedar stick burning, drumming and dance as well as luxurious décor that pays homage to the wealthy class of Tokyo in the 18th century.

    Perhaps the best part of this temple is that it's within walking distance of scores of other ancient temples in the area. It's only 22 minutes east of the Tokyo city centre.

    Location: 1 Chome-17-13 Tomioka, 江東区 Koto City, Tokyo 135-0047, Japan

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +81 3-3641-8288

    Map

    photo by Tak1701d (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Nezu Shrine

    Explore tea houses and an expansive garden

    Nezu Shrine has a history stretching back nearly 2,000 years and offers one of the more complete ancient temples in Japan with stunning buildings and a gorgeous garden. The original shrine at this site was established more than 1,900 years ago. Additional buildings were added in the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries, with the final expansion being the current main building. As you walk the premises you'll get to see a 6,600 square-metre azalea garden with 100 different varieties of flowers and 3,000 individual plants.

    You can also explore traditional tea houses here selling such unique beverages as traditional Amazake and arts, crafts and flower markets. It's 24 minutes east of the city centre.

    Location: 1 Chome-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0031, Japan

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +81 3-3822-0753

    Map

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