10 Must See Historic Shrines in Japan | FAST JAPAN

10 Must See Historic Shrines in Japan

There are many shrines all-throughout Japan. Each shrine is uniquely beautiful and dedicated to a different god. Visit historic places while traveling around Japan.

#1. Yasukuni Shrine – Tokyo

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Tokyo and it was built in June 1869 to commemorate those who died in service for the Empire of Japan. The Empire of Japan existed until the end of the Meiji Restoration in 1869, the purpose of the shrine is to honor those who died in wars involving Japan from the entire Meiji and Taisho period. There are over 2.5 million people and animals enshrined here. The Honden building enshrines those who died on behalf of the Japanese empire, there are Koreans and Taiwanese. This is considered controversial. Visitors are able to learn about the distress of war since there is a shrine museum displaying the weapons used in the war plus the remaining documents. Yasukuni Shrine is also well known for beautiful cherry blossoms, there is about 400 trees blooming in the spring. Nogakudo Hall was built in 1881 and there is traditional Japanese performing arts shows performed at the hall.
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Yasukuni Shrine

Address : 3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda Word, Tokyo

Access : 10 minutes walk from Ichigaya and Iidabashi stations

Phone: 03-3261-8326

Website: Yasukuni Shrine


#2. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine – Kanagawa

Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin@flickr

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The shrine is the geological and cultural center of Kamakura.  To the left of the great stone stairway there used to be a 1,000 year old ginko tree, unfortunately the tree was uprooted by a storm in March, 2010. The shrine is an Important Cultural Property. The main hall of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine was constructed by Ienari Tokugawa in 1828. There are important festivals and two museums at the shrine. There are many cultural activities such as archery from horseback and Japanese archery are practiced at this shrine. There is a large peony garden, three coffee shops, a kindergarten, offices, and a dojo. Near the two museums, there is the Kamakura Museum of National Treasures, they are owned by the City of Kamakura and the prefectural Museum of Modern Art.
[map lat=”35.326098″ lng=”139.556414″][/map]

Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine 

Address: 2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture

Access: 14 minute walk from Kamakura Station

Phone: 0467-22-0315

Website: Tsuruoka Hachimangu (Japanese)


#3. Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine – Shiga

Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. This is one of the Twenty Two Shrines, it is a ranking system of Shinto shrines. The system was established during the Heian period, the listed shrine receive special offerings from the Imperial Court. The West Hall of Worship and the East Hall of Worship are designated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs as National Treasures in the category shrines. This shrine is the seventh largest shrine network in Japan, at about 4,000 shrines. The shrine and some other buildings were burnt down when Oda Nobunaga destroyed Enryakuji Temple in 1571. The buildings were reconstructed within the last quarter of the 16th century and it became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine is famous for the deity that used monkeys as servants. Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine is the prominent spiritual place in Shiga Prefecture and most of the buildings are designated as Cultural Treasures. Also it is known as one of the most beautiful spots in Kansai area to view autumn leaves. The autumn leaves season starts in November and lasts until early December.
[map lat=”35.072913″ lng=”135.865064″][/map]

Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Address: 5-1-1 Sakamoto, Otsu City, Shiga

Access: 10 minute walk from Sakamoto Station

Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

300 yen (Adult)
150 yen (Child)

Phone: 077-578-0134

Website: Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine


#4. Meiji Jingu Shrine – Tokyo

Meiji Jingu Shrine
Photo Credit: Jiashiang@flickr

Meiji Jingu Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Shibuya, Tokyo. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Although the emperor’s grave is located at Fushimi Momoyama, south of Kyoto. The shrine is located in a 170 acre forest, the forest is made of 120,000 trees. The trees were donated by people from all over Japan. There are two major areas at the shrine, the Naien and the Gaien. The Naien is the inner precinct, there is a treasure museum that houses the articles of the emperor and empress. The Gaien is the outer precinct, there is the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery that houses a collection of 80 large murals. The murals events that happened to the emperor and empress. Arrive early on a Sunday and you could see a Shinto wedding at the shrine.
[map lat=”35.676397″ lng=”139.699325″][/map]

Meiji Jingu Shrine 

Address: 1-1 Yoyogi-Kamizonocho, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

5 minute walk from Harajuku Station
5 minute walk from Sangubashi Station

Phone: 03-3379-5511

Website: Meiji Jingu


#5. Ise Grand Shrine – Mie

Ise Grand Shrine

The Ise Grand Shrine is located in Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan. This is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. The shrine complex is composed of many Shinto shrines centered into two main buildings, Naiku and Geku. The Inner Shrine, Naiku is located in the town of Uji-tachi, it is believed she lived here. The buildings are made with solid cypress wood and there is no nails used, the wood is joined together. The Outer Shrine, Geku is about six kilometers away from Naiku and it is deticated to Toyouke Omikami, the god of agriculture, rice harvest, and industry. One of the Shinto shrine’s holiest and most important spots is the Sacred Mirror. There is no public access to the site and people are not allowed into the thatched roof houses hidden behind four tall wooden fences. People are allowed to walk around in the forest. The priests from the Imperial House of Japan are responsible for watching over the shrine.
[map lat=”34.455014″ lng=”136.725798″][/map]

Ise Grand Shrine

Address: 279 Toyokawa-cho, Ise city, Mie Prefecture

Access: 15 minutes bus ride from Ise-shi Station

Opening Hours:
5:00am ~ 6:00pm (January to April and September)
5:00am ~ 7:00pm (May to August)
5:00am ~ 5:00pm (October to December)

Fee: Free

Website: Ise Grand Shrine


#6. Izumo Taisha Shrine – Shimane

Izumo Taisha Shrine

Izumo Taisha Shrine is located in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Japan. This is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines but there is no record of when it was established. There are two major festivals that happen and the shrine is dedicated to the god Okuninushi. Okuninushi is the Shinto deity of marriage. It is believed to be the oldest Shinto shrine in Japan. The halls and attached buildings were designated as National Treasures of Japan in 1952.
[map lat=”35.402035″ lng=”132.685457″][/map]

Izumo Taisha Shrine

Address: 195 Kizukihigashi, Taishacho, Izumo City, Shimane

Access: 7 minute walk from Izumo Taishamae Station

6:00 AM – 8:00 PM (March – October)
6:30 AM – 8:00 PM (November – February)

Phone: 0853-53-3100

Website: Izumo Taisha Shrine


#7. Itsukushima Shrine – Hiroshima

Itsukushima Shrine

The Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine of the island of Itsukushima or also known as Miyajima. It is best known for the “floating” torii gate. Located in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, the shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the government has designated some buildings as National Treasures. The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of Susano no Mikoto, the Shinto god of seas and storms and also the brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu. Since the island itself has been considered a sacred place, commoners were not allowed to walk on the island for a long time. The shrine was built like a pier, so that when people entered on boats they would have to pass through the red torri gate. Retaining the purity of the shrine has been important since 1878. There have been no deaths or births near the shrine. Burials on the island are forbidden.
[map lat=”34.295959″ lng=”132.319805″][/map]

Itsukushima Shrine

Access: 10 minutes by ferry from Miyahima-kou Station

1/6 – 2/28  6:30 AM – 5:30 PM
3/1 – 10/14  6:30 AM – 6:00 PM
10/15 – 11/30  6:30 AM – 5:30 PM
12/1 – 12/31  6:30 AM – 6:00 PM

300 yen (Adult)
200 yen (High School Student)
100 yen (Junior and Elementary School Students)

Contact: 0829-30-9141 (Japanese)

Website: Itsukushima Shrine


#8. Fushimi Inari Taisha – Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine on Inari in Fushimi Ward in Kyoto. Inari is the god of rice. The shrine is at the base of Inari mountain, 233 meters above sea level. There are many trails up the mountain leading to smaller shrines. It can take two hours to walk up the mountain. Since early Japan, people in business, merchandising, and manufacturing have worshiped Inari. Every torii at the shrine has been donated by a Japanese business. It is said that this extremely popular shrine has over 32,000 sub-shrines throughout Japan.
[map lat=”34.967140″ lng=”135.772683″] [/map]

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Address: 68 Yabunouchi-cho, Fukakusa Fushimi-ward, Kyoto

Access: 3 minute walk from JR Inari Station

Hours: 7:00 AM – 6:30 PM

Fee: free

Phone: 075-641-7331

Website: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (Japanese)


#9. Nikko Toshogu Shrine – Tochigi

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Nikko Toshogu Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Shinto shrine located in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture. Toshogu Shrine is dedicated to Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. The shrine was first built in 1617 during the Edo period. During that time, Ieyasu’s son Hidetada was the shogun. More was added onto the shrine during the third shogun, Iemitsu. The remains of Ieyasu are enshrined and entombed here. Five structures are categorized as National Treasures of Japan and three more as Important Cultural Properties. Some of the famous buildings include the beautifully decorated Yomeimon, a gate also known as Higurashi no Mon. The second name means you could never get tired of looking at it. Another gate is the Karamon, it is decorated with white ornaments. The stable for the shrine’s sacred horses have a carving of the three wise monkeys. The hear, see, and speak no evil monkeys. It is a traditional Japanese and Chinese symbol. The original five story pagoda was donated by a daimyo in 1650, but it was burned down and rebuilt in 1818. Each level of the pagoda represents earth, water, fire, wind and aether or void.
[map lat=”36.758043″ lng=”139.598849″] [/map]

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Address: 2301 Sannai Nikko-shi, Tochigi Japan

Access: 5 minutes bus ride from Tobu Nikko train station to the bus stop called “Shinkyo” and 8 minutes walking

Opening Hours:
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (April to October)
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (November to March)

Admission fees:
1300 yen (adult over age 16)
450 yen (child under age 15)

Phone: 0288-54-0560

Website: Nikko Toshogu Shrine (Japanese)


#10. Yasaka Shrine – Kyoto

Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine, once called Gion Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Gion, Kyoto Prefecture. At this shrine there is several buildings, gates, a main hall, and a stage. The construction on the shrine began in 656, the shrine became the object of imperial patronage during the early Heian period. From 1871 to 1946 the shrine was designated as one of the Kanpei Taisha, meaning it was a highly government supported shrine. In 869 the Mikoshi was paraded through the streets and it was the start of the Gion Matsuri, it is now a world famous festival.
[map lat=”35.003656″ lng=”135.778553″][/map]

Yasaka Shrine

Address: 625 Kitagawa Gionmachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto

Access: 5 minute walk from Gionshijo Station

Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Phone:  075-561-6155

Website: Yasaka Shrine


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