It is unavoidable that sightseeing spots get periodically affected by minor and sometimes major renovation and repair works, especially wooden historical structures, such as temples, shrines and castles. Furthermore, some local governments in Japan are continuing efforts to restore historical structures which have been lost in the past. As a result, a traveler may occasionally come across a sightseeing spot which is closed for renewal or affected by construction works.
In an effort to help avoiding bad surprises due to constructions and renovations, we are maintaining the following list of Japanese sightseeing spots which are currently affected by major renovation or construction works. Note however, that this list is not complete and that there might be other major constructions going on at spots not listed below. If you know of one, please let us know.
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Spring 2016 to August 2019
Renovation works on Meiji Shrine were completed in August 2019.
2007 to March 2024
Toshogu Shrine is being renovated in stages from 2007 until March 2024. But because only a couple of the shrine's many buildings are affected at any time, the impact on a visit is relatively small and Toshogu remains worth a visit. Renovation on the centrally placed Yomeimon Gate was completed in March 2017.
2008 to March 2020
Kiyomizudera's main hall is covered up from February 2017 to March 2020 for the renovation of its roof. Visitors will be able to enter the main hall during the renovations.
Enryakuji Temple (Hieizan)
2016 to 2026
Enryakuji's main hall is undergoing renovations from 2016 for about ten years. During the renovations, the main hall is covered by scaffolding, but it remains possible to enter the hall.
January 2011 to April 2020
The Eastern pagoda of Yakushiji is undergoing a major renovation over a time period of almost ten years, during which it is covered up by scaffolding. The other buildings are unaffected and still make a worthwhile visit.
Floating Torii Gate of Itsukushima Shrine
From June 2019 for at least around one year
Renovation works on Miyajima's famous floating torii gate started on June 3, 2019. During the renovation works, the torii gate will be covered up by scaffolding. It is not known yet exactly how long the renovations will take, but they are expected to take at least around one year. In a first phase until July 17, 2019, only the lower parts of the torii gate will be covered up, but afterwards the entire gate will disappear under a partially transparent cover. Starting from August 26, a bridge will be built on the left side of the gate (when viewed from the shrine) to aid the renovation works. A date for the completion of the renovation works has not been set yet.
From May 7 until September 20, 2019
Hikone Castle's main tower and Tamon Turret are currently being renovated and covered up by scaffolding until September 20, 2019. It is possible to enter the castle tower during the renovations.
Dogo Onsen Honkan
January 2019 to 2026
In January 2019, renovation works started on the Dogo Onsen Honkan during which the bath house is closed partially over the period of seven years. During the first of two phases of the renovation works, two small baths on the first floor remain open to visitors (one for each gender), while the rest of the building, including the rest areas on the second and third floors, gets closed. Some parts of the building will be covered up by scaffolding; however, some of the building's sides (the front and north sides during the first phase of the renovations) will intentionally be kept free of scaffolding to reduce the impact on tourism.
Until spring 2021
Kumamoto Castle suffered serious damage in the earthquakes of April 2016. Many roof tiles fell, foundations were damaged, walls crumbled and entire structures collapsed. The inner grounds are currently closed to the public; however, it is possible to look at the massive fortress from the outside. The castle's main keep is scheduled to reopen to the public in spring 2021, while the rest of the grounds are expected to require about 20 years to be fully repaired. The main keep is scheduled to remain partially covered in scaffolding until autumn 2019.