Tokyo is famous for so many things. If you are after food, there is no shortage of Michelin Star restaurants. If you are after luxury then stay at one of the many five star hotels in the city. Tokyo is a fashion capital and there shops everywhere you turn. However, if you are after a more genuine experience then perhaps visiting any of these shrines or temples may suit you better. Tokyo is not just a city of lights, night life, and technology. It is a cultural center much like Kyoto. The city is covered with shrines and temples dating back centuries, in some cases even a millennium. It’s often hard to decide which ones to visit, but every place is unique and is well-worth visiting.
#1. Meiji Jingu Shrine
Perhaps one of them most popular shrines on the list, Meiji Jingu Shrine is located right next to the busy Harajuku district. This shrine was built to deify the spirits of the Meiji Emperor whom was indispensable during the Meiji Restoration and the modernization of Japan. This shrine is especially busy during the New Years when millions of patrons come to do their annual greeting to the shrine on the first of the year.
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Meiji Jingu Shrine
Address: 1-1 Yoyogi-Kamizonocho, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Harajuku Station
Website: Meiji Jingu Shrine
#2. Sensoji Temple
Another iconic destination is the famous Sensoji Temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo. This Buddhist temple is considered Tokyo’s oldest temple and it very significant. The temple ground’s host numerous festivals throughout the year. You will be awed by the magnificent architecture and the all-around lively atmosphere.
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Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Access: 8 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Website: Sensoji Temple
#3. Yasukuni Shrine
The infamous Yasukuni Shrine is the focal point of East Asian tensions wherever a Japanese Prime Minister visits. This shrine is thought to glorify the imperialism period of the Japanese empire. Visits are often viewed in a negative light by neighboring Asian countries like South Korea and China. Aside from the slightly controversial history, the shrine is a wonderful place to visit and feed the koi fish or enjoy a peaceful garden stroll. During the summer, this shrine hosts one of Tokyo’s largest festivals.
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Address: 3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Access: 10 minute walk from Kudanshita Station
Website: Yasukuni Shrine
#4. Zojoji Temple
Zojoji Temple has a rich history and the history can be traced back to a disciple of the famous Kukai. The Sangedatsu Gate is the only original structure left untouched from the war, and it is believed that those who pass through the gate can be free from foolishness, anger, and greed.
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Address: 4-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato Ward, Tokyo
Access: 7 minute walk from Shibakoen Station
Website: Zojoji Temple
#5. Shinagawa Shrine
Perhaps the Japanese deity at the Shinagawa Shrine may appeal to international travelers out there, Daikokuten, the god of food, is enshrined here. Dating back to the 12th century, this shrine is conveniently located in Shinagawa, and it is very accessible.
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Address: 3-7-15 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo
Access: 7 minute walk from Shimbaba Station
Website: Shinagawa Shrine
#6. Koganji Temple
Koganji Temple is a popular place to visit and is known for the healing properties of the Jizo Togenuki. The Jizo looks like a Bodhisattva and it is all black. The act of pouring water over the Jizo statue on a corresponding part of your body will heal it. The temple is never closed and you are free to heal yourself day or night.
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Address: 3-35-2 Sugamo, Toshima Ward, Tokyo
Access: 8 minute walk from Sugamo Station
Website: Koganji Temple
#7. Akagi Shrine
Located on top of Kagurazaka Hill, Akagi Shrine is perhaps one of the most recent and modern shrines in Tokyo. It was renewed in 2010 and since then the shrine has been the host to monthly flea markets and there is even find a restaurant/museum gallery area known as Akagi Cafe. This shrine is certainly different from standard Japanese shrines.
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Address: 1-10 Akagi Motomachi, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
Access: 4 minute walk from Kagurazaka Station
Website: Akagi Shrine
#8. Tsukiji Honganji Temple
Tsukiji Honganji Temple is located in the ever popular Tsukiji area near the world famous fish market. The temple that preceded the Tsukiji Honganji Temple was actually located in Asakusa, but was burned down in the 17th century. It was rebuilt in its current location because the reigning shogun at the time refused to let it be rebuilt in Asakusa. This is a great shrine to visit if you are near or around the Tsukiji Fish Market!
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Tsukiji Honganji Temple
Address: 3-15-1 Tsukiji, Chuo Ward, Tokyo
Access: 4 minute walk from Tsukiji Station
Website: Tsukiji Honganji Temple
#9. Hanazono Inari Shrine
Hanazono Inari Shrine is located in one of the most visited wards, Shinjuku, the shrine dates back to the 1600’s. This unassuming shrine deifies Inari, the god of fertility and success. If you visit during lunchtime, you may see many businessmen praying for success at work. You may find success too if you pray here.
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Hanazono Inari Shrine
Address: 4-59 Uenokoen, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Access: 3 minute walk from Ueno Station
Website: Hanazono Inari Shrine
#10. Kanda Shrine
Kanda Shrine has a history dating back over a 1,000 years. Although the buildings have been rebuilt numerous times due to earthquakes and fires, there are multiple gods enshrined here representing things like worldly success. Even famous historical figures like Ieyasu Tokugawa visited this shrine.
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Address: 2-16-2 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Access: 7 minute walk from Ochanomizu Station
Website: Kanda Shrine
#11. Gotokuji Temple
Gotokuji Temple is filled with maneki neko statues and rightfully so because this temple is the origin of these cat figurines. Maneki Neko are sort of like a lucky charm. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this temple may just break your preconceptions about Japanese temples.
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Address: 2-24-7 Gotokuji, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo
Access: 7 minute walk from Miyanosaka Station
Website: Gotokuji Temple
#12. Nezu Shrine
The Nezu Shrine is a hidden gem. Though this shrine doesn’t have a long history, it still hosts one of the most beautiful festivals, the Tsutsuji Matsuri or Azalea Festival. The festival usually starts in early April and lasts until May.
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Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
Access: 10 minute walk from Nezu Station
Website: Nezu Shrine
#13. Yushima Temmangu Shrine
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine is a Shinto shrine that worships the god of learning, Tenjin. There are numerous shrines like this that are dedicated to Tenjin, however this particular shrine is famous for the large number of plum trees. In fact, this shrine hosts the annual plum festival, the Ume Matsuri. This festival usually happens in February or March, it depends when the trees bloom.
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Yushima Temmangu Shrine
Address: 3-30-1 Yushima, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
Access: 7 minute walk from Yushima Station
Website: Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
#14. Nogi Shrine
Photo Credit: Taiju Muto@flickr.com
Nogi Shrine was built in 1923 making it one of the newest shrines. The name comes from the late General Nogi Maresuke whom the shrine is dedicated to. It is built on the spot where General Nogi committed suicide following the death of the Meiji Emperor. The current shrine buildings were built in 1957 after the original was destroyed during air raids in WWII.
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Address: 8-11-27 Akasaka, Minato Ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Nogizaka Station
Website: Nogi Shrine
#15. Tokyo Daijingu Shrine
Perhaps one of the most romantic shrines, Tokyo Daijingu Shrine was established in 1880. It pays homage to the gods of at the Ise Jingu Shrine located in Ise, Japan. The deities worshiped at the Ise Jingu Shrine and the Tokyo Daijingu Shrine, as well the deities of creation, both of these groups watch over matchmaking. The temple is also very popular for Shinto wedding ceremonies. However if you are after festivals, this shrine is the host to about 16 different festivals throughout the year.
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Tokyo Daijingu Shrine
Address: 2-4-1 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: 7 minute walk from Iidabashi Station
Website: Tokyo Daijingu Shrine