9 Tokyo Shrines To Visit To Learn About Japanese History and Culture

Meiji Jingu Torii - Top 9 Shrines to Visit in Tokyo

With an estimated 80,000 Shinto shrines scattered across Japan, they are a very important part of Japanese tradition and culture. These jinja (神社, shrines) house one or more kami, in addition to a holy item that is related to the kami of that shrine.

Although the general population is slowly moving away from practicing daily Shintoism, worship and rituals are still deeply embedded within Japanese culture. We see this during the new year when locals visit shrines to pray for good fortune and a prosperous coming year. A few weeks after a baby is born, the family will often take the baby to a shrine to be blessed and to pray for its future.

Temizu - Top 9 Shrines to Visit in Tokyo

There are certain structural elements that are almost always present at shrines. The most famous and hard-to-miss one is the torii gate: a tall, vermillion gate that marks the entrance to a shrine. Because shrines are such a sacred place, you’ll often see locals bowing before and after passing through a torii gate. Another way to show respect is to purify yourself before entering the main hall of a shrine by washing your hands and mouth at a temizuya purification trough. And those white paper zigzags you see hanging around shrines are shimenawa which mark the boundary of something or someplace that is deemed to be sacred.

Savvy Tip: When visiting, be sure you know the proper prayer etiquette: shake the rope to ring the bell, throw a coin into the offertory box, bow twice, clap twice, pray, and bow one final time.

1. Meiji Jingu Shrine

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