Top 5 unmissable Shinto shrines in Tokyo   東京で見るべき5つの神社

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nezu

Nezu-jinja

Less crowded than Senso-ji, Meiji Shrine remains an active place of worship.

Kanda-Myojin

Kanda-Myojin

Shinto: the shrines to see in Tokyo

Japanese shrines are places of worship for Shintoism, the original religion of Japan. During a trip to Japan, they are undoubtably among the most beautiful discoveries you'll make. Here are what we think are five of the most beautiful Shinto shrines in the Japanese capital.

What is a shrine?

It's important to remember that a Shinto shrine, called a jinja in Japanese, is a place of Shinto worship, where one or more kami (deities or spirits) are worshipped. It is, therefore, a place to respect, just like a church. The entrance to a shrine, which marks the passage from the earthly world to that of the divine, is marked by a torii gate.

A classic Shinto shrine is usually composed of a path lined with toto (stone lanterns) and includes a basin full of water, chozuya, where the faithful are purified by washing (hands and mouth). There is also often a shamusho, a shrine office where you can purchase good luck charms. The shrine will have one or more buildings, including the honden, the most sacred building in the compound.

In Tokyo, tiny shrines are on almost every street corner. Although there are fewer of them than in Kyoto, there are larger Shinto complexes to visit when in Tokyo.

meiji-jingu

The huge torii at the entrance to Meiji-JIngu

meiji-jingu

The main entry gate to Meiji-Jingu

meiji-jingu

Meiji-jingu

Meiji-Jingu

Located in Harajuku, Meiji-Jingu is THE symbolic shrine of Tokyo, and visiting the capital without paying tribute to it is unthinkable. It's located in the heart of Yoyogi Park and after a relaxing walk along a tree-lined path, you will reach the shrine itself. The shrine was built in 1920 as a tribute to Emperor Meiji. You'll first pass by large barrels of sake, then feel tiny in front of an impressive cypress torii gate, which is 12 meters high (the highest in Japan) and marks the entrance to the shrine.

The discovery continues with the magnificent main wooden door, and the large Meiji-Jingu outer courtyard and its sacred trees. A peaceful place in the heart of Tokyo, where it's good to take the time and stop for a moment.

Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8557

Nezu-Jinja

You will find Nezu-Jinja in the north of the capital, in the Yanesen district. Very calm and peaceful, it's famous for its tunnel of small torii as well as its hill of azaleas. This is why we recommend that you visit between April and May, during Tsutsuji Matsuri - a festival held there - to enjoy the colors of the 3,000 azaleas in the park.

Nezu-Jinja was built more than 2,000 years ago, but was moved in 1705 by shogun Tsunayoshi to its present location.

Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo, 113-0031 Tokyo

nezu

Nezu-jinja

Nezu

Torii Gates of Nezu Jinga

Toshogu Shrine in Ueno

Toshogu Shrine in Ueno

Tosho-gu Shrine

Tosho-gu shrine is located in Ueno Park. This beautiful, colorful and gilded building has stood the test of time against war and natural disasters since it was built in 1627. It was dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate from the Edo period.

The site of the shrine consists of a pathway lined with majestic bronze lanterns, the main hall with traditional black and gold colors, and a magnificent five-story red pagoda.

Address: 9-88 Uenokoen, Taito City, 110-0007 Tokyo

Kanda Myojin

Kanda Myojin is an important place for Tokyo locals, and has been since the Edo period (1603-1868). It's nestled in the heart of modern buildings not far from Akihabara, creating an astonishing contrast. It was founded in the 6th century and repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt, most recently in 1934. Kanda Myojin houses the Daikoku and Ebisu kami, deities of fishing and trade. The neighborhood's IT and otaku communities have also embraced the shrine - you'll find anime-decorated ema and special IT omamori (to protect your computer from viruses!) available there. The shrine is also known as the starting point of Kanda Matsuri.

Address: 2-16-2, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, 101-0021 Tokyo

Kanda-Myojin

Kanda-Myojin

Pond of Atago-jinja

Pond of Atago-jinja

Stairs of Atago-jinja shrine, Tokyo

Stairs of Atago-jinja shrine, Tokyo

Atago-Jinja

This small and peaceful shrine, located not far from Tokyo Tower and Roppongi, is found at the top of Atago Hill, 26 meters high. It was founded in 1603 and is dedicated to the kami of fire, Homusubi no Mikoto. Rarely crowded, it's a real oasis of greenery that is especially nice in summer: pond, boats, wisteria and many koi carp welcome you - once you conquer the 86 steps to the top of the hill...

Address: 1-5-3 Atago, Minato-ku, 105-0002 Tokyo

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