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Home - Religion
Buddhist Temples

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Temples are the places of worship in Japanese Buddhism. Virtually every Japanese municipality has at least one temple, while large cultural centers like Kyoto have several thousands.

Temples store and display sacred Buddhist objects. Some temples used to be monasteries, and some still function as such. Structures typically found at Japanese temples are:

Main hall

The sacred objects of worship, such as statues, are displayed in the main hall. Main halls are called kondo, hondo, butsuden, amidado or hatto in Japanese.

Example: Main hall of Todaiji in Nara.

Lecture hall

Lecture halls are for meetings and lectures and often also display objects of worship. Lecture halls are called kodo.

Example: Lecture hall of Toji in Kyoto.

Pagoda

The pagoda, a structure that has evolved from the Indian stupa, usually comes with three (sanju no to) or five (goju no to) stories. Pagodas store remains of the Buddha such as a tooth, usually in form of a representation.

Example: 3-storied pagoda of Kofukuji in Nara.

Gates

Gates mark the entrance to the temple grounds. There is usually one main gate, and possibly several additional gates, along the temple's main approach.

Example: Sanmon Gate of Kenchoji in Kamakura.

Bell

On New Year's Eve, temple bells are rung 108 times, corresponding to the Buddhist concept of 108 worldly desires.

Example: Great Bell of Kenchoji in Kamakura.

Cemetery

Most cemeteries in Japan are Buddhist and are located at a temple. The Japanese visit their ancestors' graves on many occasions during the year, especially during the obon week, the equinoctial weeks and anniversaries.

The best cities to visit temples are Kyoto, Nara and Kamakura. One of the best places to overnight at temples is Mount Koya.

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

List of Famous Temples
Shimokita Peninsula
 1  Osorezan
Sacred mountain resembling Buddhist hell.
User rating: 94/100 (27 votes)
Visited by: 56 users
  
Hiraizumi
 1  Chusonji Temple
Hiraizumi's most famous temple.
User rating: 84/100 (87 votes)
Visited by: 233 users
 2  Motsuji Temple
Temple famous for its Pure Land Garden.
User rating: 79/100 (47 votes)
Visited by: 121 users
 3  Takkoku no Iwaya
Temple constructed at the foot of a cliff.
User rating: 85/100 (19 votes)
Visited by: 50 users
Yamadera
 1  Yamadera
Scenic temple on a steep mountainside.
User rating: 91/100 (91 votes)
Visited by: 177 users
  
Dewa Sanzan
 1  Churenji, Dainichibo
Temples known for Buddhist mummies.
User rating: insufficient data
Visited by: 20 users
  
Sendai
 1  Rinnoji Temple
Date family temple with outstanding garden.
User rating: 75/100 (45 votes)
Visited by: 110 users
  
Matsushima
 1  Zuiganji Temple
One of Tohoku's most famous Zen temples.
User rating: 78/100 (116 votes)
Visited by: 230 users
 2  Entsuin Temple
Mausoleum of a lord's son, next to Zuiganji.
User rating: 75/100 (44 votes)
Visited by: 95 users
 3  Godaido
Small temple hall and symbol of Matsushima.
User rating: 70/100 (81 votes)
Visited by: 165 users
Nikko
 1  Rinnoji Temple
Nikko's most important temple.
User rating: 85/100 (475 votes)
Visited by: 871 users
  
Ikaho
 1  Mizusawa Temple
Temple famous for udon noodles.
User rating: 69/100 (17 votes)
Visited by: 36 users
  
Kawagoe
 1  Kitain Temple
Featuring a former building of Edo Castle.
User rating: 73/100 (93 votes)
Visited by: 216 users
  
Narita
 1  Naritasan Temple
Popular temple, not far from Narita Airport.
User rating: 80/100 (195 votes)
Visited by: 391 users
  
Tokyo
 1  Sensoji Temple
Large temple in the Asakusa district.
User rating: 87/100 (1358 votes)
Visited by: 2517 users
 2  Zojoji Temple
Buddhist temple at the base of Tokyo Tower.
User rating: 81/100 (453 votes)
Visited by: 897 users
 3  Sengakuji Temple
Site of the 47 ronin's graveyard.
User rating: 81/100 (372 votes)
Visited by: 785 users
Kawasaki
 1  Kawasaki Daishi
Large, popular temple in central Kawasaki.
User rating: 70/100 (29 votes)
Visited by: 87 users
  
Kamakura
 1  Great Buddha
Large bronze Buddha Statue.
User rating: 88/100 (1139 votes)
Visited by: 2119 users
 2  Hasedera Temple
Attractive temple with views over Kamakura.
User rating: 87/100 (522 votes)
Visited by: 1053 users
 3  Engakuji Temple
Second most important Zen temple.
User rating: 82/100 (363 votes)
Visited by: 793 users
 4  Kenchoji Temple
Kamakura's most important Zen temple.
User rating: 81/100 (282 votes)
Visited by: 623 users
 5  Ankokuronji Temple
Temple founded by Nichiren himself.
User rating: 83/100 (160 votes)
Visited by: 408 users
 6  Zuisenji Temple
Zen temple famous for its gardens.
User rating: 81/100 (135 votes)
Visited by: 349 users
 7  Myohonji Temple
Temple of the Nichiren sect.
User rating: 77/100 (122 votes)
Visited by: 309 users
 8  Tokeiji Temple
Former refuge for abused wives.
User rating: 77/100 (166 votes)
Visited by: 392 users
 9  Jochiji Temple
Fourth most important Zen temple.
User rating: 76/100 (166 votes)
Visited by: 392 users
 10  Jufukuji Temple
Third most important Zen temple.
User rating: 76/100 (142 votes)
Visited by: 358 users
  
Nagano
 1  Zenkoji Temple
Very popular temple in the center of Nagano.
User rating: 84/100 (234 votes)
Visited by: 487 users
  
Nagoya
 1  Osu Kannon Temple
Popular temple in central Nagoya.
User rating: 74/100 (230 votes)
Visited by: 464 users
  
Gujo
 1  Jionzenji Temple
Zen temple with beautiful garden.
User rating: 85/100 (11 votes)
Visited by: 21 users
  
Noto Peninsula
 1  Sojiji Temple
Former head temple of the Zen Soto sect.
User rating: 92/100 (10 votes)
Visited by: 21 users
 2  Myojoji Temple
Nice temple complex with a five storied pagoda.
User rating: 90/100 (10 votes)
Visited by: 23 users
 
Kaga Onsen
 1  Natadera Temple
Temple for the worship of holy Mount Hakusan.
User rating: 87/100 (9 votes)
Visited by: 21 users
  
Fukui
 1  Eiheiji Temple
A center of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
User rating: 81/100 (76 votes)
Visited by: 171 users
  
Kyoto
 1  Kiyomizudera
Temple famous for its large wooden terrace.
User rating: 95/100 (1690 votes)
Visited by: 3029 users
 2  Kinkakuji
Temple building covered in gold.
User rating: 92/100 (1915 votes)
Visited by: 3451 users
 3  Ginkakuji
Beautiful temple not actually covered in silver.
User rating: 87/100 (1252 votes)
Visited by: 2442 users
 4  Kokedera
Called moss temple because of its garden.
User rating: 89/100 (100 votes)
Visited by: 255 users
 5  Sanjusangendo
Temple with 1001 human sized statues.
User rating: 88/100 (640 votes)
Visited by: 1156 users
 6  Ninnaji Temple
Temple turned former imperial residence.
User rating: 82/100 (318 votes)
Visited by: 666 users
 7  Nanzenji Temple
Zen temple with beautiful stone garden.
User rating: 82/100 (450 votes)
Visited by: 897 users
 8  Yoshiminedera
Temple on Kyoto's western mountains.
User rating: 86/100 (44 votes)
Visited by: 111 users
 9  Ryoanji Temple
Zen Temple with famous rock garden.
User rating: 86/100 (833 votes)
Visited by: 1552 users
 10  Sanzenin Temple
Popular Temple in rural Ohara north of Kyoto.
User rating: 84/100 (139 votes)
Visited by: 321 users
 11  Kodaiji Temple
Built in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
User rating: 84/100 (548 votes)
Visited by: 1114 users
 12  Myoshinji Temple
Zen temple complex with many subtemples.
User rating: 84/100 (62 votes)
Visited by: 144 users
 13  Tofukuji Temple
Temple with spectacular autumn leaves.
User rating: 83/100 (358 votes)
Visited by: 704 users
 14  Hieizan
Mountain temple complex of the Tendai sect.
User rating: 83/100 (164 votes)
Visited by: 407 users
 15  Daigoji Temple
Famous temple southeast of Kyoto.
User rating: 82/100 (262 votes)
Visited by: 599 users
 16  Tenryuji Temple
Zen Temple in the Arashiyama district.
User rating: 82/100 (384 votes)
Visited by: 785 users
 17  Takao
Wooded valley with temples north of Kyoto.
User rating: 82/100 (60 votes)
Visited by: 150 users
 18  Toji Temple
Large temple with Japan's tallest pagoda.
User rating: 81/100 (494 votes)
Visited by: 987 users
 19  Daitokuji Temple
Large Zen temple complex.
User rating: 81/100 (353 votes)
Visited by: 754 users
 20  Chionin Temple
Head temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism.
User rating: 79/100 (380 votes)
Visited by: 811 users
 21  Honganji Temples
Head temples of the Shin-Jodo sects.
User rating: 77/100 (387 votes)
Visited by: 835 users
Uji
 1  Byodoin Temple
Temple with a beautiful Pure Land Garden.
User rating: 86/100 (439 votes)
Visited by: 952 users
 2  Mampukuji Temple
Headquarters of the Zen Obaku sect.
User rating: 81/100 (68 votes)
Visited by: 175 users
 3  Mimurotoji Temple
Temple known for its flower gardens.
User rating: 84/100 (9 votes)
Visited by: 16 users
 4  Koshoji Temple
Zen temple on the other side of the river.
User rating: 73/100 (8 votes)
Visited by: 15 users
  
Amanohashidate
 1  Nariaiji Temple
Temple in the mountain north of the sandbar.
User rating: 83/100 (6 votes)
Visited by: 9 users
 2  Chionji Temple
Temple standing at the sandbar's southern end.
User rating: 69/100 (19 votes)
Visited by: 25 users
 
Osaka
 1  Shitennoji Temple
One of the oldest temples in Japan.
User rating: 79/100 (261 votes)
Visited by: 537 users
  
Nara
 1  Todaiji Temple
Large temple with a big Buddha statue.
User rating: 93/100 (1413 votes)
Visited by: 2607 users
 2  Horyuji Temple
The world's oldest wooden buildings.
User rating: 87/100 (535 votes)
Visited by: 1160 users
 3  Toshodaiji Temple
Large temple in western Nara.
User rating: 85/100 (317 votes)
Visited by: 693 users
 4  Yakushiji Temple
Large temple in western Nara.
User rating: 85/100 (258 votes)
Visited by: 623 users
 5  Shin-Yakushiji
With beautiful statues of Yakushi and guardians.
User rating: 82/100 (81 votes)
Visited by: 227 users
 6  Kofukuji Temple
Family temple of the Fujiwara Clan.
User rating: 81/100 (603 votes)
Visited by: 1170 users
Asuka
 1  Hasedera Temple
Large temple complex on a hillside location.
User rating: 89/100 (36 votes)
Visited by: 93 users
 2  Muroji Temple
Remote temple surrounded by forest.
User rating: 85/100 (22 votes)
Visited by: 64 users
 3  Asukadera Temple
Considered Japan's oldest Buddhist temple.
User rating: 72/100 (32 votes)
Visited by: 109 users
Yoshino
 1  Kinpusenji Temple
The most important temple of Yoshino.
User rating: 79/100 (41 votes)
Visited by: 67 users
 2  Chikurin-in Temple
Temple ryokan with a beautiful garden.
User rating: 80/100 (27 votes)
Visited by: 52 users
 3  Nyoirinji Temple
Site of Emperor Go-Daigo's mausoleum.
User rating: insufficient data
Visited by: 10 users
 4  Sakuramotobo Temple
Temple of the Shugendo mountain worship.
User rating: insufficient data
Visited by: 10 users
  
Koyasan
 1  Okunoin Temple
Temple where Kobo Daishi is enshrined.
User rating: 92/100 (211 votes)
Visited by: 346 users
 2  Kongobuji Temple
Head monastery of the Shingon sect.
User rating: 82/100 (180 votes)
Visited by: 326 users
 3  Garan
Koyasan's central temple complex.
User rating: 81/100 (129 votes)
Visited by: 228 users
Himeji
 1  Mount Shosha
Temple mountain featured in Last Samurai.
User rating: 85/100 (81 votes)
Visited by: 151 users
  
Kinosaki Onsen
 1  Onsenji Temple
Dedicated to the founder of Kinosaki Onsen.
User rating: 66/100 (32 votes)
Visited by: 64 users
  
Tottori
 1  Kannonin Temple
Buddhist temple with a nice garden.
User rating: 88/100 (8 votes)
Visited by: 21 users
  
Bitchu-Takahashi
 1  Raikyuji Temple
Zen temple with garden by local Kobori Enshu.
User rating: 78/100 (11 votes)
Visited by: 17 users
  
Onomichi
 1  Kosanji Temple
Unique temple with various attractions.
User rating: 81/100 (32 votes)
Visited by: 67 users
  
Yamaguchi
 1  Rurikoji Temple
Features a very beautiful, five-storied pagoda.
User rating: 80/100 (41 votes)
Visited by: 89 users
 2  Joeiji Temple
Famous for the Zen garden Sesshutei.
User rating: 83/100 (32 votes)
Visited by: 65 users
 
Hagi
 1  Tokoji Temple
Half of the Mori lords are buried here.
User rating: 80/100 (28 votes)
Visited by: 64 users
 2  Daishoin Temple
Half of the Mori lords are buried here.
User rating: 81/100 (28 votes)
Visited by: 60 users
 
Matsuyama
 1  Ishiteji Temple
Temple No. 51 on the Shikoku pilgrimage.
User rating: 74/100 (53 votes)
Visited by: 109 users
  
Fukuoka
 1  Shofukuji Temple
Japan's first Zen temple.
User rating: 75/100 (155 votes)
Visited by: 314 users
  
Dazaifu
 1  Komyozenji Temple
Temple with a beautiful Zen garden.
User rating: 83/100 (78 votes)
Visited by: 157 users
 2  Kanzeonji Temple
The former center of Buddhism in Kyushu.
User rating: 79/100 (62 votes)
Visited by: 137 users
 
Nagasaki
 1  Sofukuji Temple
Chinese looking Obaku Zen temple.
User rating: 76/100 (98 votes)
Visited by: 209 users
 2  Kofukuji Temple
Buddhist temple in the Teramachi district.
User rating: 76/100 (110 votes)
Visited by: 241 users
 
Kunisaki Peninsula
 1  Rokugo Manzan
About the peninsula's atmospheric temples.
User rating: insufficient data
Visited by: 4 users
  

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