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Five Famous Shrines That You Should Visit In Japan

Five Famous Shrines That You Should Visit In Japan

Translated by Briony Dunbar

Written by Hiromasa Uematsu

Kyoto 2016.04.13 Bookmark

Shinto shrines are a place where you can truly experience "real Japan". This article will introduce you to five shrines recommended for visitors to Japan.

There are shrines built all across Japan. Although there are some which were built recently, there are also historical shrines built in the ancient times.

Historical shrines still retain the style, culture and atmosphere of ancient Japan. For this reason, we could say that shrines are a perfect place for you to experience the real Japan.

This article will introduce five shrines recommended for visitors to Japan, selected with consideration of their history and prestige.

1. Fushimi Inari-Taisha


Photo by Frank Monnerjahn

Kyoto's Fushimi Inari-Taisha is especially popular among visitors to Japan.

The torii gates (鳥居, Shintō shrine archway) in the photo are called the Senbon Torii ("The One Thousand Torii Gates"). The endlessly red torii look like an entrance to another world.

Read also:
Let’s Explore Kyoto’s Most Popular Spot: Fushimi Inari Shrine!
"The One Thousand Torii Gates" may be an entrance to another world

2. Ise Grand Shrine


Ise Grand Shrine located in Mie Prefecture is one of Japan's most historic and highly prestigious shrines.

The sun goddess Amaterasu ōkami (天照大神) and the food, clothing and shelter goddess Toyouke ōkami (豊受大神) are enshrined here. The grounds are very large, spanning across four cities and two districts. It can be split roughly into the inner sanctuary and outer sanctuary, and is said to hold a total of 125 shrines including smaller ones.

The inside of the shrine has a very tranquil and ceremonious atmosphere, there's no doubt you will feel a distinctly Japanese sacred atmosphere.

3. Izumo-Taisha Shrine


Izumo Taisha Shrine is another historic shrine which is as old as the Ise Grand Shrine. It is old enough to be mentioned in Kojiki 古事記, Japan's oldest history book.

What stands out about the Izumo Taisha is the large shimenawa (注連縄, rope used to cordon off consecrated areas or as a talisman against evil) placed at the entrance of the main shrine where the deity is enshrined.

The area where Izumo Taisha is located used to be called Izumo 出雲. Izumo is known as land of the gods and is a center of mythology, so those who visit will feel a distinctive nobility in this place.

4. Itsukushima Shrine


Photo by Peter Zuco

Even if you aren't interested in Japanese shrines, you have probably seen the torii (Shintō shrine archways) of Itsukushima Shrine floating in the ocean.

Not only are the torii gates built facing the sea, but so is the shrine itself as well, being exposed to a different sight depending on the ebb and flow of the tides. When the tide has come in, you can walk to where the torii gates are.

5. Ōmiwa Shrine


Photo by Ann Lee

Ōmiwa Shrine is characterized by its large torii gate which stands along the road to the shrine, as well as the view of Mt. Miwa behind the shrine.

Regular shrines have a main shrine where a god is enshrined, but Ōmiwa Shrine does not have one. This is simply because it is thought that Mount Miwa itself embodies god.

This symbolizes how Ōmiwa Shrine continues to practice Shintō in a very ancient way. If you have the chance, do experience the essence of ancient Japan at Ōmiwa Shrine.

In Conclusion

Each shrine featured here is famous and has a long history. After you have visited famous shrines, try visiting some less-known ones. Although each shrine has a different history, the fact that it was the center of the local people’s faith proves that it was a significant part of their lives.

By visiting a shrine, you’ll be able understand the Japanese soul and mind - something that may be difficult if you are living abroad.


1. Fushimi Inari-Taisha 伏見稲荷大社

Address: Kyoto, Fushimi, Fukakusa Yabunouchi-chō 68
Worship time: 24 hours a day
Closed: None
Wi-Fi: -
Credit cards: -
Languages: Japanese
Menus Available In: -
Station: 5 minute walk from Inari Station 稲荷駅
Admission Fee: free
Religion: Shintō
Phone Number: +81-75-641-733
Official Website: Fushimi Inari Taisha (Japanese)

2. Ise Grand Shrine 伊勢神宮

Address: Mie, Ise, Ujitachi-chō 1
Worship time: 5:00 - 18:00 during January, February, March, April, and September
5:00 - 19:00 during May, June, July, and August
5:00 - 17:00 in October, November, and December
Closed: None
Wi-Fi: -
Credit Cards: -
Languages: -
Menus Available In: English
Station: Kintetsu Ujiyamada Station 近鉄宇治山田駅 and JR Kintetsu Ise-shi Station 近鉄伊勢市駅
Access: 15 minute via bus from Ujiyamada Station, 15 minutes from Ise-shi Station.
Admission Fee: free
Religion: Shintō
Phone Number: +81-596-24-1111
Official Website: Ise Grand Shrine (Japanese)

3. Izumo Taisha 出雲大社

Address: Shimane, Izumo Taisha, Kizuki-higashi 195
Worship time: 6:00 - 20:00
Closed: None
Wi-Fi: -
Credit Cards: -
Menus Available In: Pamphlets available in English and Korean.
Station: Ichibata Railway Izumo Taisha Station 出雲大社駅
Access: About a ten minute walk from Izumo Taisha Station.
Admission Fee: free
Religion: Shintō
Phone Number: +81-853-53-3100
Official website (Japanese): Izumo Taisha

4. Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社)

Address: Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, Miyajima-cho 1-1
Worship time: 6:30 - 17:30 from January 6th to February 28th
6:30 - 18:00 from March 1st to October 14th
6:30 - 17:30 from October 15th to November 30th
6:30 - 17:00 from December 1st to December 31st
Closed: None
Wi-Fi: -
Credit Cards: -
Languages: Japanese
Menus Available In: Pamphlets available in English and Korean.
Station: JR Sanyo Main line Miyajima-guchi Station 宮島口駅
Access: Walk from Miyajima-guchi Station to the Miyajima-guchi ferry stop (about 5 min.), then about 10 minutes via ferry
Admission Fee: 300 yen for adults, 200 yen for high school students, and 100 yen for middle/elementary school students
Religion: Shintō
Phone Number: +81-829-44-2020
Official Website: Itsukushima Shrine (Japanese)

5. Ōmiwa Shrine 大神神社

Address: Nara, Sakurai, Miwa 1422
Worship time: 24 hours a day
Closed: None
Wi-Fi: -
Credit cards: -
Languages: Japanese only.
Menus Available In: Pamphlets available in English
Station: JR Miwa station
Access: 5 minute walk from Miwa Station 三輪駅
Admission Fee: Free
Religion: Shintō
Phone Number: +81-744-42-6633
Official Website: Ōmiwa Shrine (Japanese)

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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