We went to Japan last October 2016 stopping by at Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. One of my favorite parts of our trip is our visit to their shrines and temples. I’m not really familiar with their religion nor am I religious myself but I love how I got to experience a part of their culture by visiting these places.
In Japan they have omikuji which are paper strips that tell your fortune. They’re available at the shrines and temples. I always get one whenever we visit a shrine & temples since I love fortune telling. They differ from area to area but the one that really stood out is the one from the Meiji Shrine which contain a waka or poetry from works of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It’s usually ¥100 for the fortune. It’s cheap and they make for a good souvenir. 🙂
Another thing I love about visiting shrines and temples is the Japanese snacks you can find around the area. After a lot of walking and exploring the area, it’s always nice to regain your energy with yummy food. Some shrines and temples (Fushimi Inari and Sensoji Temple) that we visited had snacks around the area that was both cheap and good.
And lastly each site is different and has it’s own look specifically the bigger ones. I’ve visited 2 shrines and 3 temples during our trip to Japan and surprisingly it didn’t really burn me out. I found each destination unique and had its own character. Here are the shrines and temples we visited.
1. Meiji Shrine
Situated near the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular shrines in Japan. It is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken.
We’re welcomed by a large torii at the entrance of the shrine. The way to the shrine is surrounded by a forest which makes the early morning walk to the shrine very refreshing.
Barrels of sake can be seen along the path to the shrine. These are donated by different sake breweries from all over japan.
Prior to entering be sure to wash properly.
During our visit a couple was getting married at the Meiji Shrine. We were able to witness the procession.
Prayers and wishes are written down on the votive tablets.
Good luck charms and other souvenirs are available near the shrine.
2. Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is a Buddhist temple and Tokyo’s oldest temple. It’s also one of the most popular temples in the area, a lot of people flock the area even during early in the morning.
Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate, a popular landmark, stands as the entrance to the Sensoji Temple.
The rows of shopping stalls, Nakamise street, leads toward the second entrance to Sensoji Temple.
Hozomon or Treasure-House Gate, the second entrance to Sensoji Temple.
The temple grounds on the left side is the area to buy charms on the right is for the omukiji.
3. Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its thousands of vermillion torii gates which ultimately leads to the sacred Mount Inari.
Images of foxes are all over the shrine. They are thought to be the messenger of the Shinto god Inari.
During our visit we walked a bit to the path leading to the mountain which is also the area with less visitors. Instead of continuing on for the view we decided to go back since we were getting hungry and haven’t had anything to eat yet. Good thing there’s a lot of stalls and restaurants around the area. We got to try some Inari sushi and Grilled Unagi. 🙂
4. Ryoanji Temple
A zen buddhist famous for its rock garden. This is the place to just sit down, relax, and internalize.
Kinkakuji or Golden Pavilion is a zen temple covered in gold leaf. Out of all the temples and shrines we visited. I was most impressed with this one. I’ve seen it countless of times in pictures but seeing it in person was really amazing. The most amazing part for me is that because it’s covered in gold when the light touches the temple it looks like it’s shimmering.
Aside from that I love the mitarashi dango available outside the viewing area. It’s one of my favorite Japanese snacks. It’s dango covered in sweet soy sauce glaze.
Temples & shrines are a great part of the Japanese culture. If you want to there’s a lot of temples & shrines you’re interested in visiting try to pace yourself and don’t put all of them in the same day or try to avoid having them on consecutive days so that you don’t get burned out. 🙂