Japan is a stunning island nation dotted with thousands of temples and shrines. These Japanese sanctuaries are profound locations of holiness with picturesque landscapes and peaceful surroundings. One can venture to these sites at any point in time but during the period of festivities in Japan, these temples become truly breathtaking. With a country abundant in temples and shrines, it is quite challenging to narrow down to a few selections, but provided below are some of the finest temples in Japan. Take a look and include these temples in your list of destinations to explore on a journey to Japan!
7 Finest Japanese Temples
Japan possesses a multitude of Buddhist temples and one can come across these beautiful complexes in the rural areas as well as the urban regions. Take a look at some of the top ones.
Situated in eastern Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera is an autonomous Buddhist temple. It signifies clear or pure water and acquired its appellation from a cascade present in the temple complex. It was established during the Heian era and forms part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple was originally founded in 778 and the structures that can be observed here today were constructed in 1633. The unique selling point of this splendid temple is that not a single nail has been utilized in its construction. The architecture of the temple is remarkably impressive and there is a main hall with an expansive terrace that extends over the hillside and presents outstanding urban vistas. The optimal period to visit the temple is during festivals and New Year as during that period the temple grounds are brimming with local shops vending holiday delights and keepsakes.
Location: KyotoOperating Hours: 6 AM to 6 PM
Another one on the list of historic Japanese temples is Tōdai-ji. It is a stunning Buddhist temple complex which was one of the Seven Great Temples of the city of Nara in Japan. The temple was constructed in 738 CE but officially opened in 752 CE. The unique selling point of the temple is its statue housed in the grand Buddha Hall. It is the largest bronze statue in the world, portraying Buddha Vairocana. The temple is also recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites as the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, encompassing Japanese temples and shrines, as well as other locations in the city of Nara. Visitors can also explore the Tōdai-ji Culture Center which commenced its operations in 2011 and features a museum displaying sculptures and treasures, a library, research center, and an auditorium.
Location: NaraOpening Hours: 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
If you are in Tokyo, then one of the most renowned ancient Buddhist temples to explore is Sensō-ji. It is Tokyo’s oldest traditional temple and holds significant historical value. The optimal time to visit is during Sanja Matsuri, which is Tokyo’s highly popular festival. This festival takes place in late spring and spans over 3-4 days. The streets surrounding the temple are completely closed during this period from sunrise to sunset, allowing visitors to witness the temple in its full splendor! Adjacent to the temple stands the elegant five-story Pagoda, which is another famous attraction here.
Location: TokyoOpening Hours: 6 AM to 5 PM
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Another remarkable name on the list of Japanese temples is Kinkaku-ji which signifies the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. It is a Zen Buddhist temple located in Kyoto in Japan that attracts a substantial number of visitors each year. Quite a renowned structure in Japan, Kinkaku-ji has been declared a National Special Historic Site and is a part of the sites that constitute the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. The unique selling point of the temple is the Golden Pavilion, which is a three-story building, with the top two levels adorned with pure gold leaf. The pavilion houses the relics of Buddha and extends over a pond, all within a Japanese strolling garden that creates a stunning backdrop.
Location: Kyoto Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM
Another temple to explore in Kyoto is Tō-ji, a Shingon Buddhist temple. The temple was established in 796 and holds a significant historical value. In 1994, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Toji boasts a five-story pagoda, which is the main attraction at this site. It is the tallest wooden tower in Japan and dates back to the 9th century, although it has undergone reconstruction four times since then. In 1952, it was recognized as a National Treasure. The pagoda houses relics, sculptures, and exquisite paintings. While entry into the pagoda is only allowed on special occasions, visitors can admire the interiors from the outside.
Location: KyotoOperating Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
Also recognized as Taiizan Kotokuin Shojosenji, this is a Buddhist Japanese temple situated in the city of Kamakura. The temple is one of the most famous places in Japan due to its renowned outdoor statue of Buddha. This bronze statue is also one of the most well-known symbols in Japan. According to the temple’s records, the statue dates back to 1252 and one can still observe remnants of gold leaf near the ears of this graceful statue.
Location: KamakuraOperating Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
Built in the late Heian period in 998, Byōdō-in is another Buddhist temple situated in Uji in Japan. The temple belongs jointly to two different sects, the Jōdo-shū and Tendai-shū. This exquisite temple is also one of the World Heritage sites of Japan. One can visit this Japanese temple on any day of the week and it is open from 8:30 in the morning until approximately 5:15 in the evening. If you are in Uji, make sure to visit!
Location: UjiOperating Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:15 PM
Fascinated by all these Japanese temples? These structures of architectural beauty deserve to be explored on a trip to Japan! So, plan a vacation to Japan soon and reserve your holiday with Fred and Fuzzys for a convenient and seamless experience! Share your experience of visiting these temples in the comments below.
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Regularly Questioned Inquiries About Japanese Temples
What is Japan renowned for?
Japan is renowned for not just one but several things. Japan is renowned for being the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, for its traditional arts, calligraphy, tea ceremonies, and its distinctive gardens.
Which is the oldest temple in Tokyo?
Senso-Ji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo is the oldest amid the other Japanese temples. It dates back to 628 AD. This temple is in pristine condition and is open to tourists.
Why do most of the tourists visit Kiyomizu-dera?
The Kiyomizu-dera is not only a Buddhist temple; it is also an exotic destination to witness the Otowa Waterfall. The wooden temple in the woods and this untainted waterfall make them captivating to behold.
Why is Todai-Ji crucial to the Buddhists of Japan?
The Todai-Ji temple functioned as the educational hub of Buddhism since its inception. That is why this temple complex houses a separate college and a library. Individuals intrigued by Buddhist literature and research do pay a visit to this temple.
What entices tourists to visit Kinkaku-Ji?
This is an adorable pond temple in a verdant green setting of Kyoto, Japan. The primary allure of this temple architecture is its reflection on the temple pond. Its golden pavilion simply sparkles on the water.
What captivates tourists to visit Kotoku-in Japan?
This temple is also acknowledged as the grand Buddha temple in Japan. You will be astounded to see an enormous Buddha statue in a seated position. It is constructed of bronze. It will be mesmerizing to observe this statue and its luxuriant green surroundings.
How did the Byodo-in obtain the heritage status in Japan?
Byodo-in used to be a former villa owned by Minamoto no Shigenobu. He served as one of the ministers during the Heian period. Eventually, this villa was converted into a temple complex.
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