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

Sanctuaire Yasaka-jinja

Yasaka Shrine

The brightly painted Yasaka-jinja Shrine is one of the city's best known and most popular landmarks, especially the two-story vermilion entrance gate at the end of Shijo-dori Avenue.

Pond and exterior of Tenryuji Temple Kyoto


Tenryuji is the most important temple in the Arashiyama area of west Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera, 'Pure Water Temple' in Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera is a very popular place to visit for visitors who want to discover Kyoto's history.

Phoenix Hall Byodoin Temple Uji

Byodoin Temple

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Byodoin temple is considered the height of expression of the aristocratic art of the Heian Period (794-1185).

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