The first image that could come to mind when Japan is mentioned may be that of a bustling city life—with things like busy streets, fashion, brightly-lit buildings, people rushing all over the place, etc. While this is true and could indeed be experienced in this country, there is also another side to Japan that does not involve throngs of people crossing the street or towering state-of-the-art buildings.

This feature is about the great temples of Japan—places of peace and quiet; cultural treasures of religious significance. Here are some of the most famous temples in Japan that visitors will surely have the best time spending time in; places that will allow first-timers to see the other side of this busy country. We’ve narrowed things down a bit by providing the most famous ones; temples that are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. In no particular order, here they are:


source: macalester.edu

Daigo-ji Temple

Aside from being a World Heritage Site, this temple in Kyoto is also one of the National Treasures of Japan. Founded during the Heian period, this Shingon Buddhist temple is home to the famous five-story pagoda (Kyoto‘s oldest building) and the kondo. This temple is also a great place to see the beautiful cherry blossoms every spring.


source: fotopedia.com

Nishi Honganji Temple

Sharing a Heritage Site recognition with the Higashi Honganji Temple, the Nishi Honganji Temple in Kyoto was built in the 16th century and has been well-preserved until today (it has, in fact, undergone some renovations). Here, you’ll find the beautiful Goeido Hall, which is dedicated to founder Shinran; and the Amidado Hall, dedicated to the Amida Buddha.


source: en.wikipedia.org

Komyozenji Temple

This Zen temple in Dazaifu is known for its awe-inspiring stone gardens, so if a green, magnificent, and serene setting is what you’re looking for, this is the temple you must visit. This is also near the Tenmangu Shrine, so you can stop by here as well.


source: dandaw.blogspot.com

Daishoin Temple

Located at the foot of the holy mountain Mount Misen, this Shingon Buddhist temple is known for its maples and beautiful autumn leaves. Covered with trees, this is an utterly calming place to be in, and the impressive sculpture of Buddhist statues are feasts for the eyes as well.


source: greenagsandham.blogspot.com

Todaiji Temple

This temple is filled with superlatives–it’s home to the largest Buddha statues in Japan, and it’s also the largest wooden building in the world. This is a temple complex that also serves as the headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. This is one of Japan‘s most important and significant temples, so when you visit, you will sure find so many pieces of history here.


source: outsiderjapan.pbworks.com

Motsuji Temple

This is another temple known for its scenic gardens—-“pure land gardens,” as they’re called, which is a popular style during the Heian Period. With the surrounding garden and calming pond, this is surely a place where you could take a peaceful walk and do some meditation.


source: by y-umeta from panoramio.com

These are just some of the best temples in Japan—there are still literally hundreds more to explore. If you’ve been to some of them, we’d love to hear about yout experiences and recommendations! 

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