Tokyo Shrines and Temples


Tokyo, a city steeped in history and tradition, has a wealth of religious monuments. No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to some of these impressive places of worship, which include both shrines and temples. Shrines are places of worship for the followers of Shinto faith, while temples are for the followers of Buddhism.



Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, dates back to 2000 years. With no founder, scriptures or catechism, Shinto is a conglomeration of various religious practices. Its followers believe that everything in nature is inhabited by a kami, or a deity, and when people die, they themselves become kami and are worshipped by their offspring and descendents.

Shrines are places of worship where devotion is paid to the Shinto kami. People visit them to pay respect to the kami or to pray for good fortune on special occasions.

Most shrines are architecturally similar as they tend to follow the construction styles of Asian mainland, especially the Buddhist style. All shrines typically contain the same structures, namely the torii (gates marking the entrance to a shrine), komainu (guardian dogs, lions, or foxes on either side of the entrance), purification through (fountains at the entrance where people clean their hands and mouth before entering the main hall), main and offering halls (some shrines have separate buildings for the two halls, while others have them combined in one building), and ema (wooden plates on which people write their wishes in the hope that they come true). Besides these, some shrines also have stages for special performances. Omikuji (fortune telling paper slips tied on tree branches) and shimenawa ( straw ropes with white zigzag paper strips marking boundaries to sacred things) can also be seen in certain places. Sacred objects of worship representing the kami are usually kept in the inner chambers of the main hall and cannot be seen by anybody.

There are several shrines in Tokyo, but the most important are the “Ten Shrines of Tokyo”. In 1868, after Emperor Meiji moved to Edo and renamed it Tokyo, he selected ten shrines located in a circle around the palace and sent an envoy to go pray there for the safety and prosperity of Tokyo and its people. Ever since the shrines have come to be known as the Ten Shrines of Tokyo” and have become a small pilgrimage for the people of the city.


These ten shrines are:

Nezu Shrine

1-28-9 Nezu Bunkyo-ku
5 minutes on foot from Nezu Station


Kanda Shrine

2-16-2 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
5 minutes on foot from Ochanomizu Station

Kameido Tenjin Shrine

3-6-1 Kameido, Koto-ku

15 minutes on foot from JR Kameido Station

Hakusan Shrine

5-31-26 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku
3 few minutes from Hakusan Station

Oji Shrine

1-1-12 Oji Hon-cho, Kita-ku
5 minutes on foot from Oji Station


Shiba Daimyojin Shrine

1 -12-7 Shiba-Daimon, Minato-ku

2 minutes on foot from Daimon Station

Hie Shrine

2-10-5 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku
5 minutes on foot from Akasaka-Mitsuke Station

Shinagawa Shrine

3-7 Kita-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku

2 minutes on foot from Shinbaba Station

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine

1-20-3 Tomioka, Koto-ku

2 minutes on foot from Monzen-Nakacho Station

Hikawa Shrine

6-10-12 Akasaka, Minato-ku

3 minutes on foot from Nogizaka Station



There are several other shrines in Tokyo. Some of the more important ones are:



Meiji Shrine

1-1 Kamizono-cho, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku

A few steps from Meiji-jingu-mae Station


Akagi Shrine

1-3 Akagi-Motomachi, Shinjuku-ku

A few minutes' walk from Kagurazaka Station


Yushima Tenjin Shrine

3-30-1 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku

3 minutes on foot from Yushima Station


Yoyogi-Hachiman Shrine

Next to Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku-ku

A few minutes' walk from Yoyogi-Koen Station


Hanozono Shrine

5-17-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku

6-7 minute walk from Shinjuku Sanchome Station


Fushimi Sanpo Inari Shrine

Mita Dori, Minato-ku

A few minutes' walk from Mita Station


Namiyoke Inari Shrine

6-20-37 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku

3 minutes on foot from Tsukiji-Shijo Station


Toshogu Shrine

Ueno Park, Taito-ku

4 minutes on foot from Ueno Station


Yasukuni Shrine

3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku

A few minutes' walk from Kudanshita Station  




Buddhism was introduced in Japan from China and Korea in the sixth century. It gained widespread acceptance in the seventh century after Prince Shotoku (537-621) established Buddhism as a national religion, linking it to Confucian ideals of morality and statecraft. In the beginning of the ninth century, Buddhism diverged into two sects – Tendai sect led by Dengyo Daishi (767-822), and Shingon sect led by Kobo Daishi (774-835). By the beginning of the Shogun Era (400 years later), four more new sects were formed – Jodo, Jodo-Shinshu, Zen, and Hokke. After the restoration of Emperor Meiji, Shinto was again made the national religion, but by then Buddhism had established itself deeply in the Japanese culture. Today both Shinto and Buddhism are practiced with equal devotion in Japan.


Temples are Buddhist places of worship. There are thousands of temples in Japan today, many of which are in Tokyo. They all store and display sacred Buddhist objects, and some of them also function as monasteries. As Buddhism had come to Japan from China, almost all temples follow the Chinese style of architecture and typically contain the same structures:

There is one main wooden gate which is the entrance to the temple, then several other smaller gates follow along the path. The temple contains main halls called kondo, hondo, butsuden, amidado or hatto , which contain sacred objects of worship, including statues. There are lecture halls as well, called kodo , which are used for meetings and lectures and often display objects of worship. Then there are pagodas, which are usually three or five storied and contain remains of Buddha such as a tooth, usually in form of a representation. The structure of the pagoda has evolved from the Indian stupa. All temples have bells which ring 108 times, corresponding to the Buddhist concept of 108 worldly desires, every New Year's Eve. Cemeteries are also located on temple grounds, which are visited by the people several times a year to pay respects to their ancestors' graves.

Some of the best known and important temples of Tokyo are:

Sensoji Temple (Asakusa Kanon)

2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku

A few steps from Asakusa Station


Zojoji Temple

4-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato-ku

Short walk from Shiba-koen Station


Kiyomizu-do Kannon Temple

Ueno Park, Taito-ku

3 minutes on foot from Ueno Station


Tozenji Temple

3-16-16 Takanawa, Minato-chu

Short walk from Takanawadai Station


Zenpuku-ji Temple

1-6 Moto-Azabu, Minato-ku

Short walk from Azabu-Juban Station


Tsukiji Honganji Temple

3-15-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku

3 minutes on foot from Tsukiji Station


Daienji Temple

1-8-5 Shimo-Meguro, Meguro-ku

5 minutes on foot from Meguro Station


Yagenbori Fudosan Temple

2-6-8 Higashi-nihombashi, Chuo-ku

2 minute walk from Higashi Nihombashi Station


Ikegami Honmonji Temple

1-1-1, Ikegami, Ota-ku

8 minutes on foot from Nishi Magome Station


Eko-in Temple

2-8-10 Ryogoku, Itabashi-ku

3 minutes on foot from Ryogoku Station


Sengakuji Temple

2-11-1 Takanawa Minato-ku

2 minute walk from Sengakuji Station


Kaneiji Temple

1-14-11 Ueno Sakuragi, Taito-ku

10 minutes on foot from Ueno Station

Jomyoin Temple

2-6-4 Ueno Sakuragi, Taito-ku

10 minutes on foot from Ueno Station


Gokokuji Temple

5-40-1, Otsuka, Bunkyo-ku

One minute walk from Gokokuji Station


Chokoku-ji Temple

2-21-34 Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku

Few minutes' walk from Shimbashi Station


Seishoji Temple

2-4-7 Atago, Minato-ku

Few minutes' walk from Onarimon Station


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