Shrines and Temples of Japan

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple - Japan

When I was in Japan for two weeks, I also had the opportunity to visit some temples and Shinto shrines, namely the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, Nikko Toshogu and the Momotarō Shrines. There are around 80,000-100,000 Shinto shrines in Japan. Two weeks seems a bit short to visit them all.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

I decided to visit the Narita Temple area, which has a 1000 year history, when I arrived at the Narita Airport near Tokyo. From the train station in Narita to the temple I had to walk about half an hour and along the street I found numerous restaurants and small shops. A specialty of Narita is the eel which is freshly prepared here in many restaurants. The Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is quite fascinating and the large park with a small waterfall invites you to take a relaxing walk. Some tourists also wore kimonos and took pictures with them.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, which was built in 1617 as the final resting place of Tokugawa leyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

The shrine complex consists of 55 buildings and the most impressive sights for me were the “Yomeimon Gate” – the most decorative gate in Japan, the 5-story Gojunoto pagoda at the entrance of the shrine complex, the Honjido-Hallo, in which you can only produce an echo, if you stand under the head of the white dragon on the ceiling, as well as the Shinkyo Bridge which was built in 1636 and is one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan. In addition, the shrine complex is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Momotarō Shrine

In Inuyama we visited the Momotaro Shrine. The shrine was only a few minutes from our campsite. We actually came here to paddle down the Kiso River with our packrafts the next day. But if there is a shrine in the vicinity you should also look at it.

Momotarō is one of the most popular Japanese fairy tales that was probably written in the Muromachi period (1392–1573). At the shrine there were animal figures (dog, pheasant and monkey) and ogres (in Japanese “oni”) that appear in this fairy tale. The shrine is said to be the birthplace of the hero Momotarō (the peach boy) of the fairy tale who fought against the ogres. The shrine is also a popular spot for Instagram photographers. However, I only found out afterwards.