Tokyo's Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples are some of the most interesting sites in the city to visit. Here is a very selective list of my favorite shrines and temples in the city.
The Hozomon gate at night in Asakusa: pattang / Shutterstock.com
Tokyo is not a city of shrines and temples the way that Kyoto is. Kyoto is a much older city and was the center of Japan for over a millennium, so that most major sects have their headquarters there. Then, most of the temples and shrines in Tokyo were bombed flat in World War II, so that almost everything you see today is a modern reconstruction. Still, there are some fine temples and shrines in the city and it's well worth a visit to some of them.
Note that if you plan to visit Kyoto, which has the best shrines and temples in Japan, you don't have to go out of your way to visit shrines and temples in Tokyo. If you're going to Kyoto, I'd suggest only visiting Meiji-jingu Shrine and Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo. Likewise, if you plan to visit places near to Tokyo like Nikko or Kamakura, both of which have great shrines and temples, you don't have to focus on shrines and temples in Tokyo.
Tokyo's Best Shinto Shrines
- Meiji-jingu Shrine (Harajuku)
This awe-inspiring shrine set among a soothing green forest is one of Tokyo's greatest sights. Don't miss it!
- Yasakuni-jinja Shrine (Imperial Palace Area)
One of Tokyo's most interesting and controversial sites (it's associated with Japanese nationalism), I highly recommend a visit to this shrine and it's adjoining history museum, the Yushukan.
- Kanda Myojin Shrine (Kanda)
A colorful and bustling shrine in the Kanda District, not far from Akihabara or Tokyo Station, this is well worth a visit to see Shinto in daily life.
- Asakusa-jinja Shrine (Asakusa)
While this is generally overshadowed by Senso-ji Temple, right next door, this popular Shinto Shrine is a great place to see living Shinto.
- Toshogu-jinja Shrine (Ueno)
This beautiful and peaceful shrine in Ueno-koen Park is one of my favorite sights in this part of Tokyo. Don't miss it when you visit the park!
- Nogi-jinja Shrine (Roppongi)
For a quick breather in bustling and hip Roppongi, head north to this tranquil refuge.
- Namiyoke Inari-jinja Shrine (Tsukiji)
This shrine to fishermen, fishmongers and mariners next to Tsukiji Market is a great place to see how Japanese pray at a Shinto shrine.
Tokyo's Best Buddhist Temples
- Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa)
This huge bustling temple is the spiritual heart of the city. It's one of the best sights in Tokyo. Do not miss it!
- Zenkoku-ji Temple (Kagurazaka)
Over in Kagurazaka, which is a bit of a walk from the Imperial Palace or Iidabashi, this superb colorful temple is well worth a visit when in the area.
- Yushima Seido Temple (Akihabara)
A real oddity in Tokyo – a Confucian temple – this subdued temple a short walk west of Akihabara is a nice place to catch your breath after an overdose of pop culture.
- Zojo-ji Temple (Hamamatsucho)
In the shadow of Tokyo Tower, this huge and popular temple is a great place to visit en route to or from Tokyo Tower.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Truly Tokyo Google map:
- Open the Tokyo map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals. Check my guides to arriving at Narita Airport and at Haneda Airport.
- If you're visiting more than one city, you might save money with a Japan Rail Pass – see if it's worth it for you
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world