While there’s definitely a lot of mixing between Shinto and Buddhism in Japan and you can find shrines within temples, many Japanese people are very clear about the naming differences and I think that the Buddhist priests might not be too happy if you purposely call their holy place by a different name. Can we respect the name they use for themselves please?
That may be because there were some pretty severe penalties in play if temples didn’t pick one or the other during the forced separation of Shintoism and Buddhism after the Meiji Restoration.
There were some that escaped penalties due to what might be some pretty flimsy legal justification, and some from sheer remoteness. Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine - which I mentioned above - still has a lot of its Buddhist paraphernalia. Toyokawa Inari Betsuin in Akasaka, Tokyo, is the absolute spitting image of an Inari shrine - it’s even in the name - but it came through the Meiji Restoration by claiming to be a Buddhist temple of the Soto sect, since they enshrine not the fox, but rather the man riding on top, Toyokawa Dakini-shinten.
Zenkyoan may be an example of this - it’s definitely a subordinate hall of a Buddhist temple of the Rinzai sect, but I feel like it’s unusual for Buddhist temples to enshrine animals…
(Just learnt now that Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu used to be Tsurugaoka Hachimangu-ji, but they were forced to demolish their entire Buddhist compound and sell it as scrap wood. The Nio statues were sold to Jufuku-ji, also in Kamakura, where they still remain.)
Kirishima Jingu in Kagoshima is one of my favorites. It’s deep in the Kirishima mountains and is pretty big. I went there with my girlfriend over winter break while staying in a 旅館 (りょかん）[traditional Japanese inn] in the area. It was just listed as a National Treasure (国宝 coming in handy, eh?) last year. I’m a big collector of 御朱印 (ごしゅいん） [red stamp] and they had a special one for becoming a national treasure last month so I got that one and their regular stamp.
I’m looking for friends with whom I can nerd out over 御朱印. If you’re a collector, like me, hit me up!
Maybe we should start a 御朱印 thread…
I’ve got a cho and a half.
As for specific threads, there’s this one, though that got auto-locked for inactivity last September. Guess we could tag one of the mods to unlock it again. They have a tendency to occasionally come up in other threads too.
I did a double take at the name and your profile pic lol. If I ever go that far south again, I’ll have to check it out
Checking out that thread,
Could that be a 句 or some obscure counter? I can recall seeing “[counter] price yen” like 袋200円 before
What a stickler for the rulez.
I have like, 5?
Alrighty, on with the show. Where was I?
So, I visited Risshaku-ji aka Yama-dera in Yamagata Prefecture, got a goshuin, climbed the mountain, and headed back to my hotel. Discovered when trying to decipher the goshuin for the Stylised Calligraphy thread that Yama-dera has five different goshuin. And that the one I got was none of those - in fact, there’s also a Shinto shrine on the Yama-dera grounds, and that’s the one I got. I unfortunately don’t have a good establishing shot of this place, because I didn’t realise I was entering a different institution at the time.
Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto
Shrine at the eastern end of Nishiki Market (which is also a nice place to visit). One weird thing about this shrine is that the ends of the main torii gate’s cross posts are actually inside the buildings to either side - if you go into the buildings and up to the second floor (the one on the left is an anime goods shop, so you can do that easily) then you can find the end of the gate sticking out of the wall.
Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto
I mostly just breezed through on the way to my reserved appointment at Saiho-ji (aka Koke-dera, Moss Temple), so I didn’t do much more than look around, but there was a flea market going on in the outer courtyard, and a wedding in the inner courtyard, so it was certainly quite busy. As a Grand Shrine, it apparently serves a third of Kyoto’s population, and is one of the city’s oldest.
Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto
Connected to Matsu-no-o Taisha in some way I didn’t quite catch (sister shrine? subordinate shrine?), I didn’t do much more here than stick my nose in and glance around.
Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto
Certainly did not feel nearly as grand as its name, being just a single building and an open space between a bunch of other taller buildings.
Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto
This one was… weird. The approach road was basically a pathway underneath the edge of some sort of office tower.
Sakyo Ward, Kyoto
Actually located on the grounds of Kurama-dera (between the main gate and the main hall), this is the location of the Kurama Fire Festival, which is apparently one of Kyoto’s five biggest annual festivals.
Sakyo Ward, Kyoto
Or maybe Kifune, I never did work out which reading was correct, because every second place in the town uses a different one. I actually walked here from Kurama-dera. There’s three areas to this shrine, but the largest one is, I would say, the prettiest (and most famous). The town is quite nice too - if you come in the summer, you can try kawadoko, which is eating lunch (or dinner) on platforms built over the river.
The head of the Kumano Sanzan (and all Kumano subordinate shrines) and also the main focus of the Kumano Kodo.
Bonus photo: Japan’s largest torii gate, marking the entrance to Kumano Hongu Taisha’s original location (before it moved in the nineteenth century)
The second of the Kumano Sanzan, this enshrines Nachi Falls, Japan’s highest single-drop waterfall. You’ll see it in basically all of the advertising photos. Fun fact: there’s an associated temple, Seiganto-ji, which is closely related enough that together, they can probably be regarded as one of Japan’s few remaining jingu-ji. Boy are there a lot of stairs to climb up to get there.
Also, here’s my attempt at taking that famous photo. The pagoda is attached to Seiganto-ji, though.
Presumably still part of Kumano Nachi Taisha, it’s the shrine that’s actually located right at the base of Nachi Falls. There’s a viewing platform that you can pay to enter, too.
The original location of the third of the Kumano Sanzan (that’s coming next, spoiler alert). It’s at the top of five hundred absurdly steep steps, but the view is amazing.
The actual third of the Kumano Sanzan - the shrine moving here from Kamikura apparently gave the town of Shingu (“new shrine”) its current name. Not… really the prettiest of the Kumano Sanzan, to be entirely fair. I didn’t really stay here long, partially because I was running out of light, I guess.
Mostly popped in because it was there, but the priest was kind enough to instruct me in how to pray at a shrine (though I wasn’t about to tell him I’d already read a number of websites on the subject). I… hope I remembered to have a coin on hand to toss into the offertory box, though I do remember I was running low on cash by that point (no 7-Elevens in Wakayama Prefecture).
Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
A large part of why I decided to pop in here was because it was featured on the first Love Live. I was, at the time, attempting to walk the length of the Kanda River, though it turns out that for most of its length, the Kanda River doesn’t have riverside paths. Humbug. Anyway, I bought the bag I keep my shuincho in from this place. It was quite busy, though. Perhaps not too surprising, considering its location.
That brings me to the end of my second trip to Japan, so I might put another pause in here.
If this wasn’t where you saw your thread going, @DIO-Berry, let me know and I can slow down. Or stop.
This is apparently the oldest shrine in Kanazawa, though I’m honestly not sure what drew me to it - we just happened to be walking past on the way to Kenroku-en. They were setting up for some manner of festival, but we didn’t stay long enough to find out what.
One of the noteworthy things about this shrine is that the main gate is not a Japanese-style torii nor a Chinese-style structure, but this three-storey European tower, complete with stained glass (though there is a torii gate at the bottom of the entrance stairs). Unfortunately, I’d forgotten the second spare battery for my camera this day, so I have comparatively few photos of this place (managed by squeezing every last volt from the other two batteries).
One of the Twenty-Two Shrines (i.e. those designated by the Emperor as being of particular importance), this shrine is related to Enryaku-ji, the temple complex on mount Hiei. It’s also known for its Sannou style torii gates (depicted below). Unfortunately, we arrived here after a long day of exploring Enryaku-ji, so it was quite closed, and I haven’t actually been inside. Next time, perhaps.
Fushimi Ward, Kyoto
Again, yes, but this time there’s a festival on. (Actually, I think this is the only shrine in Japan that I’ve actually visited twice. So far, anyway.) Specifically, it’s the Shinko Festival, one of Fushimi Inari’s two biggest festivals, when all the mikoshi get taken out to a place near Kyoto Station, where they convey blessings on the area (the other biggest festival is when they come back again). There were many people. And an alley with festival booths. And I’m going to have to visit again sometime, because I still haven’t climbed to the top of the mountain…
This is the shrine where the national karuta tournament is held in January (for all-comers) and July (for high-school students). Though my friend and I visited in April - same day as Fushimi Inari above, actually, and they were also holding a festival, the Omi Matsuri. (It’s not always the same day as Fushimi Inari’s Shinko Festival, because they judge the date a bit differently, but they quite often coincide.) In contrast to Fushimi Inari, my friend and I were most certainly the only caucasians present. We might have even been the only people present who didn’t actually live in Otsu, because it definitely felt like a festival of the local neighbourhoods - each one had their own mikoshi. We were able to walk right into the inner courtyard, which you can’t usually do. (I bought my second shuincho here - the sakura-pink one.)
Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo
Happened to come across this while wandering around in the forest after visiting Nunobuki Falls. Very closed for the night, but very pretty.
Tennoji Ward, Osaka
I came here looking for a point of interest I’d seen in Pokemon Go - a segment of the Berlin Wall - but it turned out to be located in the temple standing behind it. It was very pretty nonetheless, though. Very leafy. Though also raining.
Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka
Supposedly one of the oldest shrines in Japan, it’s also the ur-example of the Sumiyoshi-zukuri architectural style.
Chuo Ward, Chiba
Definitely not one of the oldest shrines in Japan - the main hall actually looked quite modern. Some of the structures seemed so substantial that it almost felt like a temple, but no, it’s a shrine. (Just learnt now that it was built as a temple in the year 1000, but converted to a shrine in the Meiji Restoration, so there you go.)
Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
Noteworthy in that it contains a Fujizaka - a miniature version of Mount Fuji built with actual rocks from Mount Fuji, so that you can do your mountain worship without having to leave the city. Apparently it’s Tokyo’s oldest Fujizaka.
Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
I mainly visited this place only because I was aiming for a different temple, but hadn’t realised that the map I was looking at was upside-down (wall maps in Japan tend to be oriented so that up is the direction you’re currently facing, and at the time, I was facing south). It was extremely pretty, all the same. Part of it’s an Inari shrine, which is an added benefit. And it’s also got Sannou torii.
And thus endeth my third trip in Japan. A couple fewer shrines this time - I did this trip with a friend, and I’m kinda wondering if I unconsciously scheduled fewer shrine and temple visits than when I travelled alone.
I love your posts! They’re exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for. I’m adding so many places to my “want to go” map, it’s great! It’s making me really look forward to seeing more of Honshu.
The only thing I would do different is add your favorite ones explicitly to the 2nd post in the thread. That way it’ll become a cool recommendation with hopefully a little something from everyone over time
Aside from visiting minor islands like Miyajima, I’m still yet to actually venture off Honshu…
You’re asking me to pick favourites?
Yep, but you’ve been a lot of places I haven’t! I’ll try to get more of my photos in order so I can share a lot more of Kyushu
How about a top five? or maybe 1 per prefecture?
Part four, my second solo trip. Perhaps as a solo trip, it’ll take me two posts to get through them all? Let’s find out.
The location of the Ryusei Matsuri, which was (sort of) featured in Anohana. I actually made plans to visit Chichibu before I discovered that the Ryusei Matsuri took place that same weekend, so that was quite a nice coincidence. (Though on the downside, Typhoon Hagibis also made landfall that weekend, albeit on the Saturday, while the festival was on the Sunday.)
While doing as much of the Chichibu 34 Kannon pilgrimage as I could manage in a single day (starting from number 10, because the bus to number 1 wasn’t running thanks to Hagibis), I came across this little Inari shrine in the hills above Jorakuji (number 11). Curiously, most of the usual Inari-style torii gates seemed to be missing, with only the bases left behind.
This used to be a part of temple 14 (Imamiya-bo) on the pilgrimage, or possibly vice versa. Now it’s quite a nice little shrine, with lots of statues, and trees, and statues in trees.
Chichibu’s main shrine, once regarded as the very centre of the city (in Edo times, the Chichibu pilgrimage started here and spiralled outwards, now it’s between temples 15 and 16). It’s the location of the Chichibu Night Festival on December 3rd, apparently one of Japan’s three biggest festivals. The main hall apparently faces directly towards Mount Buko in the city’s south, though I admit I didn’t exactly pull out my theodolite and check.
(And until this moment, I genuinely thought it was called Futaarasan Shrine…) This is Utsunomiya’s main shrine - apparently the shrine came first, and Utsunomiya was built around it, but I haven’t quite worked out if the “miya” in Utsunomiya means that the city was named for the shrine. In any case, the huge staircase at the front is one of its best known features, though I had to climb them after just having eaten forty-two gyoza. Urp.
The head shrine of all the Tosho shrines, and the actual resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu (posthumously deified as Tosho Daigongen, hence the name of the shrine). This is one of the big famous shrines, and is the location of the well-known three wise monkeys carving. I happened to arrive on day one of the shrine’s two-day autumn Grand Festival - I watched some horseback archery, but I had stuff to do, so elected to pass on coming back for the main events the following day.
(This one’s definitely Futarasan. I checked.) Hiding behind, and rather overshadowed by, Tosho-gu, despite being almost a thousand years older. Much more in tune with the nature around it as well. And somewhat less expensive to enter.
While planning this trip, I discovered that the Kawagoe Matsuri was also taking place while I was in Japan, so I rearranged things so that I could go see it. The Kawagoe Matsuri was originally a festival of this specific shrine, but modelled after Edo’s Tenka Matsuri, it became a festival for the whole city, with each district pulling its own float around the place. I got a special two-page Kawagoe Matsuri slash Reiwa Gennen goshuin from here.
Might be a subordinate shrine of the Kumano Sanzan - I haven’t been able to find anything definitively stating it, though it does use the same yatagarasu symbol around the place. I didn’t spend too much time here, because hey, there was a festival going on.
Yes yes, Inari shrine, but! That’s not what brought me here. Actually, I came here because there was a Pokemon Go raid at this shrine’s gym. But! That’s not why I’m bringing it up now. Well, it’s sort of is. Because, see, since I spent some time at Kumano Shrine, I arrived late for the raid, so most people there were already fighting. I found myself standing next to a mother-and-child pair who were also fighting in the “leftovers” group along with me, and when we were finished, she invited me to join in with pulling her district’s float. So I spent the whole evening actually taking part in the festival. So it’s a bit smaller than most of the shrines I’ve posted here, but I’ll always have a soft spot for this shrine.
Part of the World Heritage-listed Chuson-ji temple complex (actually, Hakusan Shrine came first, and Chuson-ji muscled its way in). Compared to the rest of the mountain, there were very few people up here. (And it’s definitely read as Hakusan - I made a point of asking.)
Uh… and somehow I only visited a single shrine in the second half of this trip. How did that happen?
Well, that brings me to the end of my fourth (and so far last) visit to Japan…
Holy cow what a lot of shrines. And a lot of memorable experiences. And nice pictures.
They might’ve been replacing or restoring the wood/paint.
Even more places to add to my map list
I still need to add your shrines, but I figure this thread isn’t going anywhere and neither am I with rona cases going up lol
About 100 of those are anime goods shops since a lot of them just have coordinates and not actual listings
I’ve been to Kyoto and Osaka, but I think I just had a written list and didn’t add to it on Google maps