Shrines and temples for budget travellers in Japan

Who comes to Japan and doesn’t visit a few shrines and temples? Japan is full of them, and a random walk anywhere in a city will get you to one in a few minutes, but the best ones will really take your breath away. Shrines (Shinto) and temples (Buddhist) are suburb places to relax and feel the real Japan.

Highlights

Shrines and temples by region

Tokyo and Kanto Region

Harajuku

Harajuku (はらじゅく/原宿), between Shinjuku and Shibuya, is a heartland of youth fashion and activity.  It...

Kanda Myojin Shrine (FREE)

Kanda Myojin Shrine (神田明神) is a major Shinto shrine near Akihabara and Ueno. Over 1000 years old,...

Kichijoji

Kichijoji is a nice place to spend a cheap day, just walking around and doing...

Narita City

Got some time to kill before or after a flight at Narita Airport? Narita City...

Nezu Shrine (FREE)

Nezu Shrine is a small shrine complex and garden, famous for it's yearly Azalea Festival. It...

Asakusa

Asakusa (あさくさ/浅草) is the main tourist zone in Tokyo.  While this may put some travelers...

Mount Mitake – cheap mountain escape from Tokyo

Mt. Mitake (御岳山) is considered a sacred mountain by many Japanese, who frequently make a...

Sengakuji temple (FREE)

Sengakuji temple is a beautiful Buddhist temple near Shinagawa station.   This is the location of...

Izu Peninsula

Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島) is a famous hot spring and sightseeing destination, and a popular side trip...

Takahata-Fudoson Temple and Park (FREE)

While the name is quite a tongue twister, Toritsu Tamakyuryo Natural Park and the associated shrine...

Kawagoe

Kawagoe (かわごえ/川越) is a beautiful traditional down less than an hour away from central Tokyo....

Kyoto, Osaka and Kansai Region

Toji Temple

Toji Temple (東寺) is one of the two 'guardian temples' that was built when Japan's capital was...

Ginkaku-ji Temple

Ginkaku-ji (Temple of Shining Mercy) is a stunning Zen Buddhist temple and a highlight of any...

Tenryuji Temple

Tenryuji Temple (天龍寺) is ranked as one of Kyoto's top temples and a World Heritage site. The large, but...

Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple (龍安寺), meaning The Temple of the Dragon at Peace, is a World Heritage listed "dry...

Daikaku-ji Temple

Daikaku-ji (大覚寺) is a quiet temple in northern Kyoto. Not many people come here compared to...

Koyasan

Koyasan will really take your breath away. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a town of Buddhist temples...

Mount Shosha

Mount Shosha (書写山) is a 371 metre tall mountain near Himeji, the top of which...

Kamigamo Shrine (FREE)

Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社), twinned with Shimogamo Shrine to the south, is an important Shinto shrine...

Philosopher’s Walk (FREE)

A famous and historic Kyoto walk, from Ginkaku-ji Temple to Nanzen-ji.  A number of other smaller but...

Yasaka Shrine (FREE)

A large complex of well maintained, stunning shrines, pagodas and other Shinto monuments and buildings....

Kinkaku-ji Temple

Kinkaku-ji Temple, AKA Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is something you really have to see with...

Ninna-ji Temple

Ninna-ji Temple (仁和寺) is yet another awesome World Heritage listed temple in Kyoto. The temple was founded...

Sumiyoshi Taisha (FREE)

Sumiyoshi-taisha (住吉大社), or the Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine, is Osaka's most famous shrine. It is the headquarters...

Uji

Uji (宇治) is a popular tourist spot known for it's many centuries old shrines and...

Sanjusangendo Temple

Sanjusangendo Temple (三十三間堂) is a completely breathtaking temple containing one thousand life-size, golden Kannon statues....

Kiyomizudera Temple

One of the most celebrated Buddhist temples in Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage site....

Honganji Temples (FREE)

The Honganji temples, consisting of Nishi Honganji (west temple) and Higashi Honganji (east temple), are large Buddist...

Daigoji Temple – the forgotten World Heritage site of Kyoto

Daigoji Temple (醍醐寺) is a picturesque Buddhist temple in south Kyoto. While a bit run...

Ise Shrines

The Ise shrines are often regarded to be in the top 3 shrine areas in...

Shitennoji Temple

If all the lights of downtown Osaka get too much, head to Shitennoji Temple, the oldest...

Shimogamo Shrine (FREE)

Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社), linked to the northern Kamimono Shrine, is part of the world heritage...

Japanese Alps and Chubu Region

Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Shirakawa-go (白川郷) and nearby Gokayama (五箇山) are secluded World Heritage villages known for their vernacular farmhouse-style houses...

Obuse

Obuse is a lovely little town near Nagano.  The old-fashioned streets and countless interesting temples provide...

Hida Furukawa

Hida Furukawa is a nice little day trip from Takayama.  It is a compact town...

Takayama

Takayama is a beautiful town in the Japanese Alps.  It is famous for it's festivals,...

Nagano City

Nagano (長野) is a nice stop-off point, before going off to Habuka or the Monkey Park in...

Tohoku

Yamadera

Yamadera (山寺), meaning Mountain Temple, is a small town well known for its beautiful, scenic Ryūshaku-ji...

Goddess of Kannon (FREE)

The Goddess of Kannon (仙台大観音) is a spectacularly huge statue of Kannon, the Deity of Mercy, near Sendai in Tohoku....

Matsushima

Matsushima (松島) is famous bay not far from Sendai. What makes this place unique is that...

Hiraizumi

While Japan's other World Heritage sites get more attention, Hiraizumi (平泉) is the one to...

Kakunodate

Kakunodate (角館) is an old samurai town with a rich history and lots to see. Near...

Lake Tazawa

Lake Tazawa (田沢湖) is a luminous blue lake in Tohoku and the deepest lake in Japan....

Shikoku

Kotohira-gu Shrine (FREE)

Kotohira-gu Shrine (金刀比羅宮), also known as Konpira-san, is one of Shikoku's top shrines, and a worthwhile...

Megijima

The best Shikoku island for budget travellers, Megijima (女木島) has beaches, caves and art on offer....

Ogijima – cheap island getaway

The smaller brother to Megijima, Ogijima (男木島) is also worth a visit if you have...

Kochi

Kochi (高知) is a large city in southern Kyushu containing the usual attractions of shrines...

Kyushu

Miyazaki

Miyasaki (宮崎), located in south eastern Kyushu, is a prefecture well known across the country...

Yanagawa

Yanagawa (柳川) is a lovely town with some beautifully quiet canals to explore. It is...

Dazaifu (FREE)

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (太宰府天満宮) is a very famous shrine dedicated to the god of study....

Nagasaki

Nagasaki (長崎), just like Hiroshima, is an extremely emotional place to visit, but well worth...

Chugoku

Hagi

Hagi (萩) is a castle town, little visited by foreign tourists. The town is full...

Tsuwano

Tsuwano (津和野), often called “little Kyoto”, is a small castle town in Chugoku. Budget travel tips ...

Bitchu-Takahashi – Secret mountain castle

For some reason completely unknown to most tourists, including Japanese tourists, Bitchu-Takahashi (備中高梁) presented one...

Kurashiki – stroll around the old merchant town

Kurashiki (倉敷) is a historic town near Okayama known for its merchant past and old-fashioned...

Izumo-taisha

Izumo Taisha (出雲大社) is a grand shrine, considered one of Japans top 3. Located in...

Matsue – half price heaven!

Matsue (松江) is a pleasant castle city, known as the 'city of water' due to...

Mount Daisen

Mount Daisen (大山) is a volcanic mountain in the Chugoku region with amazing views over...

Miyajima

Miyajima is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site near Osaka and Hiroshima.  It's often near the top of the list...

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