Shinto and Buddhist temples are important parts of Tokyo’s landscape and are a must-do cultural and spiritual experience for any visitor to Japan‘s capital city. While it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo life, visiting a temple can be a very calming and valuable life experience that travelers are sure to take something from.
Located on the east end of Tokyo, Sensoji is one of the oldest temples in the city. Its grandeur makes for beautiful photos and the whole site has a buzzing and infectious atmosphere. There are dozens of stalls selling traditional food and trinkets dotted around it, while inside, travelers will find a gorgeous five-tiered pagoda and oodles of oracles, charging just a small sum to reveal future fortunes.
Perhaps the most well known temple in all of Tokyo, the Meiji Shrine is surrounded by park lands in the west-central portion of the city. The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife, and houses fascinating memorabilia relating to the couple. It’s construction was started in 1915, after approval from the Japanese government, and a large-scale public building effort ensued. Later, the spot was totally destroyed in World War II, only to be reconstructed in 1958. To date, the spot has also hosted countless VIPs and heads of state from across the globe.
Overflowing with the history of Tokyo, Zojoji Temple is neighbors with the Tokyo Tower and Shiba Park. Today, what is left of the temple is well worth the visit, and not only because six of the 15 Tokugawa Shoguns are buried in the tombs here. Aside from the great sepulchres, there is also the fascinating and sobering Garden of Unborn Children to see – a monument to miscarried and stillborn pregnancies – and a smattering of truly elegant structures dating from the 16th century.
Set within a huge cemetery lined with cherry trees, the beautiful location of this temple alone makes it well worth a visit. At over 800 years old, the beautifully landscaped surroundings here complement the marvelous Tennoji Temple itself, and make it a very tranquil place amidst sprawling, bustling Tokyo. Also of note is the looming statue of the Buddha; cast in bronze, oversized and melding perfectly with the serenity of the environs.