Tourist sights under renovation in 2018-2019
A non-exhaustive list of sites currently undergoing renovations in Japan
It's always a joy to discover the mythical sights of Japan. Less so, when you arrive on the scene and they're closed for renovation. In Japan, many wooden monuments regularly undergo maintenance: temples, shrines and castles, the Japanese government takes great care of its material heritage. It's a necessity that can disappoint more than one tourist, since renovations usually last several years! Don't get caught out during your stay - here is a non-exhaustive list of monuments under construction in 2018.
- Hirosaki castle (Aomori)
Hirosaki Castle has been under reconstruction since 2013. Important works are underway which mainly affect the interior stone walls of the castle, as well as the castle keep, which was fascinatingly moved about 70 meters away from its original location so its foundations could be renovated, and will be moved back afterwatds.
Although visitors can now move freely throughout the site, work will not end until around 2023.
- Rinno-ji Temple (Nikko)
Founded by the monk who first introduced Buddhism to Nikko, Rinno-ji is the most important temple in the city. Undergoing major renovation work since 2007, it is open to tourists but will remain covered by scaffolding and a tarpaulin until 2020.
See: Rinno-ji temple
- Toshogu shrine (Nikko)
Although maintenance of the temple's central Yomeimon gate was completed in March 2017, work is scheduled to continue until spring 2020. However despite the ongoing work the temple is currently open and still worth visiting.
- Meiji shrine (Tokyo)
Located in the heart of Yoyogi Park, Meiji-jingu is a 1920s shrine built in honor of the emperors of the Meiji era (1868-1912). Completely destroyed during the Second World War, the current shrine is actually an identical reproduction of the original place of worship.
Read more: Meiji-jingu shrine
Under renovation since 2016, Meiji-jingu is expected to become accessible to visitors in 2020, in time for its 100th anniversary.
- Nagoya castle
Built by one of the branches of the Tokugawa family during the Edo period (1603-1868), Nagoya castle is the pride of the capital of Aichi prefecture. Although the castle is not directly affected by the work, reconstruction of its donjon (keep) has been ongoing since 2009. The reconstruction work will end by 2022, but the current donjon will be demolished next year. If you want to visit it as it is, go now or never!
Read more : Nagoya castle
- Kiyomizu-dera temple (Kyoto)
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kiyomizu-dera is regularly renovated. And although visitors can still enter it through the main gate of the temple, the main hall is covered by a tarpaulin until 2020 to hide the ongoing roof renovations.
- Chion-in temple (Kyoto)
Former headquarters of the Jodo branch of Buddhism, Chion-in temple is a vast religious complex consisting of several buildings. Among them, Miedo Hall, the main hall built around 1390, is being renovated and is currently covered in scaffolding and closed to the public until next year.
- Enryakuji temple (Kyoto)
Located close to Mount Hiei, Enryakuji is one of the most important temples in the country, having for a long time housed the Tendai branch, one of the major branches of Japanese Buddhism. With its beautiful scenery and countless maple trees, it's one of the most visited temples in Kyoto. That said, it is currently difficult to admire properly, since the main building of the temple is covered up and under renovation until 2026 (however, you can still go inside).
- Yakushiji temple (Nara)
Yakushiji Temple is one of the oldest wooden temples in Japan. Built in the seventh century by Emperor Tenmu to implore the gods to heal his sick wife, it's a place full of history, and popular to visit. Unfortunately, although still a worthwhile trip to see the other buildings, its Eastern pagoda is covered and closed to the public until June 2020.
- Kofukuji temple (Nara)
Comprising more than 150 buildings, Kofukuji Temple is one of Nara's most important places of worship. And certainly the one where renovations are lasting the longest, since they first began in 1998!
Today, most of the buildings are reopened to the public. That said, various minor works are planned until 2023.
See : Kofukuji
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has been undergoing renovations since 2014. In order not to affect visits too much, the museum remains open to the public and renovations only target one building at a time. However, the number of exhibits is reduced. The works should be completed in spring 2019.
Read more: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
- Kumamoto castle
Following the earthquake of 2016, Kumamoto castle suffered a lot of damage: lost tiles, ravaged structure, the collapse of the castle walls, and as a result this monument from the fifteenth century needed major renovations.
Although the interior of the castle is currently closed to the public, visitors can still admire it from the outside. A pity for tourists, it will reopen in 2021, however repair works will continue for over twenty years.
See : Kumamoto castle