Next Stop, Japan

Shrines and Temples

Buttsuji Temple

The Zen Buddhist temple, Buttsuji, was founded in 1397 by Kobayakawa Haruhira who was the lord of the area around Mihara City at the time. He invited Guchu-Shukyu of the Rinzai-Zen School of Buddhism to be its first leader. Under the patronage of the Kobakawa's, a deeply religiously devoted family, Rinzai-Zen Buddhism enjoyed a golden period where, at their height, they governed 88 sub-temples and 3,000 smaller temples.


Hofu-Tengmangu Shrine

Tenmangu Shrines are dedicated to worshiping the god of literature and scholarship, Tenjin. Hofu-Tenmangu Shrine (防府天満宮神社), Kitano in Kyoto and Dazaifu in Fukuoka Prefecture are considered to be the top three of the countless Tenmangu shrines in Japan. This group of shrines is popular with students praying to do well on any and all kinds of exams. Many buy brushes, good luck charms and write their aspirations on small wood plaques and hang them near the shrine before important exams. This particular shrine was built in 904.

Hōfu City
Yamaguchi Prefecture

Kamakura Daibutsu (Kotoku-in)

The Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha) is one of the most famous images of Japan. The daibutsu sitting on its pedestal has been used on stamps, tourist postcards and other materials. The large bronze statue of Buddha sits outdoors to the south of Tokyo near the ocean in Kamakura City at the Buddhist temple, Kōtoku-in. Including its pedestal, it is 3.35 metres (43.8 ft) tall. It weighs around 121 tonnes.

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Kamakura City
Kanagawa Prefecture

Kamouhachiman Shrine

Kamouhachiman Shrine is a medium sized shrine in Aira City to the north of Kagoshima City on Kyushu. Its main draw is the impressive camphor tree that shades much of its grounds. Even if giant ancient trees aren't your thing, the shrine and the grounds are worth a look around if you're in the area.

As you walk under the entry gate, the main shrine building comes into view at the top of a short flight of stone stairs. From here, you can see a natural wonder of Japan and explore the grounds of a historic shrine.

Aira City
Kagoshima Prefecture

Kosanji Temple

Kosanji Temple (耕三寺) was built in Setoda on Ikuchijima Island by Kanemoto Kozo, a successful business manager for steel-tube company in Osaka, as an expression of his love and respect for his dear departed mother.

Onomichi City
Hiroshima Prefecture

Meiji Shrine (Jingu)

Meiji Shrine (明治神宮 - Meiji Jingu) was built to honor the defied spirits of Emperor Meiji (1852 - 1912) and that of his consort, Empress Shoken (1850 - 1914). Many Shinto Shrines venerate well known historic figures but few are dedicated to people as recent as the Emperor and Empress who lead Japan through its modernization. The shrine was completed in 1920 and their souls were enshrined on November 1, 1920.

Shibuya Ward

Mitsuki-Hachimangu Shrine

Mitsuki-Hachimangu Shrine is one of over 30,000 in Japan honoring Hachiman(八幡), the Shinto god of war. It is north of Mihara City and takes about 20 minutes by car to reach it.

The surrounding countryside is a bit less dramatic than Mihara's other famous temple, Buttsuji, but the shrine is in a quite unspoiled and rural area.

Mihara City
Hiroshima Prefecture

Miyajima Island

Miyajima (or Itsukushima) is an island that is considered sacred and pure in the Shinto religion. The strict rules applied to the island to maintain its purity throughout history have also preserved its wealth of native plants and animals. Miyajima's Itsukushima Shrine, which was built to worship the island, is known worldwide for their beauty. The view of the shrine with its vermillion gate in front and Mt.

Hatsukaichi City
Hiroshima Prefecture

Narita-san Shinsho-ji

Narita-san Shinsho-ji (成田山 新勝寺) is located in central Narita City, Chiba Prefecture. This Shingon Buddhist temple complex was founded in 940 during the mid Heian period. It is dedicated to the fire god, Fudō myōō. Its founding celebrated the victory of forces authorized by the Heian court over rebels led by the powerful Kanto samurai, Taira no Masakado.

Narita City
Chiba Prefecture

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple, located close to the Sumida River, is the center of the charm of Tokyo's Asakusa district and is the oldest and most famous Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Many events are held around here, but, the most famous of them, Sanja Matsuri, is one of Tokyo's biggest three festivals.

Taitō Ward


Any trip to Nara is not complete without gazing up at the daibutsu (Great Buddha) within the Great Buddha Hall at Tōdai-ji. The colossal scale of this bronze statue of Buddha has never been surpassed in Japan since its completion in 751. Indeed, it is still the world's largest. The scale of the undertaking was enormous for the time with some 2.6 million people contributing to the goal of constructing it and the surrounding complex.

The temple complex at Tōdai-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nara City
Nara Prefecture
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