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Japan’s temples and shrines are what many of us think of when imagining the country, with their ornate buildings, atmospheric surroundings, striking pagodas and torii gates. The country has a range of stunning places of worship belonging to the Shinto and Buddhist religions – each dedicated to different deities. Not only are many of them extremely beautiful, they tend to evoke peaceful atmospheres that are wholly unique.
From Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine, shrouded in forest at the city’s heart, to the striking red architecture of Senso-Ji – Japan is home to a variety of unique and beautiful sites. Each holds its own unique history and significance in Japanese culture; some offer opportunities to take in serene settings, join in meditation, or write your wishes on a prayer board. All in all, they are great opportunities to get a taste of the country’s rich culture and heritage.
Japan’s Top Shrines, Temple and Castles
Before visiting some of the more famous sites, it’s a good idea to take a look at what tours are available and book a place in advance – as many of them prove to be extremely popular with tourists. When entering the main buildings at shrines and temples, you will usually have to remove your shoes as a sign of respect – so be prepared for this and bring/wear socks to avoid any embarrassing faux pas. Rinsing your hands in the purification fountain near the shrine’s entrance is also a good way to show respect for the cultural traditions and beliefs symbolised in these special places.
Here, we present a roundup of some of the best shrines, temples and castles to visit in your tour of Japan: