Temples and Shrines お寺と神社

  • Published on : 01/07/2022
  • by : J.L.T.B. / A.B.

Discover the most beautiful temples and shrines in Japan. An essential part for any visit.

Pagodas, pavilions, monasteries, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and altars dot the Japanese landscape. 

Buddhism and temples

Originating in India in the 5th century BC. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 5th and 6th centuries AD via China and the Korean peninsula. Buddhism is the set of teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha ("awakened" in Sanskrit), after having attained enlightenment. It is a spiritual path that aims to become aware of the suffering inherent in life, as well as its cause: attachment.

By different methods - meditation, chanting of sutras or mantras ... - which differ according to the school, the practitioner abandons the idea of "I" and "mine" at the origin of this attachment in order to realize the impermanence of all things and the vanity of ego.

The Great Buddha of Todaiji Temple

The Big Buddha at Todaiji Temple


The entrance to a Shinto shrine can be recognized by the famous torii, a generally red gate that marks the border between the sacred and the profane. The most emblematic is the torii of the, partly submerged, Itsukushima shrine, on the island of Miyajima.

Some shrines also have a stone staircase (ishidan), which leads inside the building via the alley (sando) lined with lanterns (toro). Along this alley is the chozuya, a small pool where the faithful can purify their bodies according to a defined ritual. After this stage, we reach the different parts of the building, in particular the haiden, a building of worship in which the faithful perform their prayers.

Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, near Hiroshima

Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, near Hiroshima


Temples et sanctuaires

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Tennoji Temple Tokyo: A historic Buddhist sanctuary in Yanaka

Tennoji Temple stands as a venerable Buddhist sanctuary in Tokyo's picturesque Yanaka district.

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Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple: A Hidden Gem of Whimsical Buddhist Art in Kyoto

Nestled in the tranquil hills of Arashiyama, Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple stands as a testament to artistic creativity and spiritual resilience.

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Kotoku-in: The temple of the Great Buddha of Kamakura

Nestled in the historic city of Kamakura, Kotoku-in is a renowned Buddhist temple famous for its monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha, commonly known as the Great Buddh

Kanda Myojin Shrine: a revered Tokyo landmark blending tradition and modernity

Nestled near the bustling tech hub of Akihabara, Kanda Myojin Shrine, also known as Kanda Shrine, stands as one of Tokyo's most historic and influential shrines.