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5 Must-see temples for your (first) trip to Japan

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Here we have a selection of 5 Must see temples for your trip to Japan. Don’t miss them!

When we planned our trip to Japan, temples and shrines were on the list of things to see in each city we visited. Sometimes the choice was overwhelming (especially in Kyoto).

But after having made the (first) trip I can certainly say which are my 5 favorite temples/shrines. All this selection is totally subjective since it is based on my personal preferences, in the memorable moments that I pass in each place, in the colors, etc. Here I go with the list of which, in my opinion, are the top 5 must-see temples in Japan, for your first trip.

The 5 must-see temples if you go to Japan

Senso Ji

El Templo Senso Ji
The Senso Ji Temple

This temple located in the Asakusa neighborhood in Tokyo, belongs to the Buddhist religion (the Tendai branch).

This place is very special to us, so much so that we visited it twice, the first time it was raining cats and dogs and there were many people. Despite that, the souvenir shops and the temple itself were full of people.

The next day, which was sunny, we did return, but you definitely must arrive early.

This place magically transports us to an ancient Tokyo, the one that we forget in so much Tokyoite modernity. You can find people in kimono walking as if nothing around the enclosure. This is why is one of the must-see temples in your first Japan trip 🙂 (it was at least for me, and I returned every time I could when I came back to Japan).

Y si, seguía lloviendo :(
And yes, it was still raining 🙁

Fushimi Inari

Uno de los muchos torii que veriamos
One of the many torii we would see

What a place! On the outskirts of Kyoto, this Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirit of Inari captivated us with its path of hundreds of torii (sacred gates) and a challenge that we could not meet: reaching the top. That only leaves us one option: go back 🙂

Fushimi Inari is transporting yourself to a path where everything is red and black, where you will find many mini altars with foxes that are the guardians of the place.

Un camino de torii
A torii road

Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji-templo
Cute golden temple

This temple is located in Kyoto, that is, you have to take public transport to get to it since it is located a bit far from the center. It is also known as the “Golden Pavilion” although its official name is Rokuon-Ji. It belongs to the Zen Buddhist religion. And along with other Kyoto temples, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1994.

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If you don’t get to this temple early, you have to think that there will be a lot of people, so either you arrive very early or you get used to it. A nice thing that happened to us in the temple was that a group of schoolchildren intercepted us and asked us questions (where we came from, etc.), it was a very nice moment… so going at the time when everyone goes has its good sides 😀

Of course, you have to know that the Golden Pavilion itself cannot be entered, you walk around it and admire it from the outside, also the walk through the place is very pleasant.

About arriving early… here is a sample:

Todo mundo peleando por el mejor lugar para tomar fotos :-o hehehe
Everybody fighting for the best place to take pictures 😮 hehehe

Itsukushima Shrine

Imagínense todo eso lleno de agua.
Imagine all of that filled with water.

Well, here it is not only the sanctuary that must be seen, but the entire Island of Miyajima which is beautiful… with a lot of deer in the wild (watch out for your food).

Itsukushima shrine belongs to the Shinto religion and has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

Kiyomizu-dera

Una gran estructura de madera... muy concurrida
A large wooden structure… very crowdy

To close the list, this large wooden temple located in Kyoto (this one is in the center). It belongs to the Buddhist religion and is also part of the UNESCO heritage.

You also have to get to Kiyomizu-dera early, we didn’t do it and we paid the price: there were too many people. If you do not manage to arrive early, do not worry, there are always little paths to go where there will not be so many people and you will be able to see the little saints with a red bib.

Estatuas con Baberos rojos
Statues with red bibs

And this is my TOP 5 selection, it was quite difficult to do it because I know that there are other very beautiful temples in Japan (at least of the ones we managed to see).

Again I say it is my personal selection … so tell us which one would you add? Which one would you remove? why?

Templos de Japon
Temples of Japan

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