At Tsukudo Shrine, you can see how the Shinto religion resits change and fits into a modern city! This Japanese shrine with a traditional architecture is hidden by the structure of a building surmounted by a giant sword but the entrance is clearly marked by a red Shinto gate and two statues of lion-dogs. Enter, go straight then follow the little path on the right and you can even see a small shrine with many statues of foxes… Isn’t the Japanese culture fascinating? :)
The entrance to the sacred grounds of Tsukudo Shrine is free everyday, weekends and public holidays included. Near Kudanshita subway station, it is the Shinto shrine marked “18″ on the Yes in Japan map of Chiyoda ward in Tokyo (version autumn 2014 & winter 2014-20115).
At Yasukuni Shrine, you can have a glimpse into Shintoism (significant facet of the Japanese culture), examine Japanese religious architecture including impressive gates, visit an interesting military/war museum, occasionally see Japanese people in military uniform or students wearing the uniform of the National Defense Academy, and admire numerous cherry blossoms in Spring. In the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo, Yasukuni Shrine was founded by Emperor Meiji and enshrines 2.466.000 souls of soldiers and ordinary citizens dead for Japan… Visit this shrine if you go on a religious or historical tour of Japan!
You can enter the sacred grounds of Yasukuni Shrine for free every day (weekends and Japanese national holidays included) from 06:00 to 17:00 in January and February but until 18:00 in March and April. Near Kudanshita subway station and the National Showa Memorial Museum, it is the Shinto shrine marked “17″ on the Yes in Japan map of Tokyo Chiyoda (version autumn 2014 & winter 2014-2015).
At Tokyo Grand Shrine, you can discover the Shinto religion (important part of the Japanese culture), see traditional Japanese architecture, and meet many Japanese girls praying to find (or be happy with) their soulmate. Branch of Ise Grand Shrine in Tokyo Chiyoda ward, Tokyo Grand Shrine reputedly held the first Shinto wedding ceremony of Japan! It also sells diverse lucky charms with interesting designs :) Do not miss this shrine if you go on a spiritual tour of Tokyo!
The entrance to the sacred grounds of Tokyo Grand Shrine is free on weekdays and weekends (public holidays too). Near Iidabashi subway/train station, it is the Shinto shrine marked “16″ on the Yes in Japan map of Tokyo Chiyoda (version autumn/winter 2014).
Yesterday, we accompanied a nice couple from Greece wishing to visit a beautiful Japanese garden in Tokyo. After visiting the ancient Rikugien garden, we walked a while in the streets of Bunkyo ward then entered a long row of red Shinto gates at Nezu shrine :)
Under a big blue sky, the green trees and large pond of the Rikugien garden looked fabulous and extremely peaceful though full of life! We saw cute carps, swimming turtles, a wooden Japanese bridge, a teahouse serving green tea, pink azaleas…
The quiet Nezu shrine features many statues (samurais, foxes, ashuras…) but foreign tourists get most excited by its numerous holy gates. This spot is excellent for a very Japanese souvenir photo!
To finish, we lunched in Akihabara and entered one of the best shops selling kendo equipment in Tokyo; the armours were beautiful! We planned this tour based on the travellers’ interests, season, weather, and accessibility from Hotel Niwa Tokyo. Thanks to these 2 Greek tourists, we also spent a very pleasant Spring day :)
To discover the Japanese people and culture through a personalized tour in English during your holidays in Japan, contact the Yes in Japan team…
- Rikugien = 六義園, Nezu shrine = 根津神社 (Nezu-jinja).
- Hotel Niwa Tokyo = 庭のホテル東京 (Niwa-no-hotelu-Tokyo), Tokyo = 東京.
We saw beautiful holy plaques at Kencho-ji Buddhist temple after a hike in the forest of Kamakura during the Golden Week. Our photo below shows plaques decorated with Jizo (Buddhist protector of travellers and children) on the left and a tengu (protector from Japanese folk religion) on the right:
Our travel manager made many lovely 1-day trips to Kamakura from Tokyo with small groups. Contact us if you wish to visit or hike in Kamakura during your stay in Tokyo this Spring; we can organize a personalized 1-day tour or 2-day tour with hotel in Kamakura.
Would you buy a wooden plaque as souvenir or suspend it at the temple after writing a prayer on it during your travel in Japan?
- Kencho-ji = 建長寺, Kamakura = 鎌倉.
Have you ever met and discussed with a Japanese artisan? Reputed for high-quality gorgeous products (traditional or modern), artisans in Japan typically live in quiet districts or in the countryside and rarely speak English so foreign tourists have few opportunities to know them…
We had the chance to meet Kanesaka-sensei, a sculptor of marvellous miniature gods and Buddhas, at an event promoting the Fukushima prefecture held at Tokyo International Forum on 23 December 2013. This kind joyful artist was moving and impressive, and we will gladly meet him again in his city (Aizu)! Our photos show you Kanesaka-sensei with our team member Sébastien, Shinto and Buddhist miniature statues, a nut containing the 7 Gods of Fortune, and another containing the gods Ebisu and Daikoku.
To fully appreciate the statues, you should turn the nuts in your hands while admiring with a magnifier… Art lovers and fans of Japan would certainly enjoy the experience and wish to bring back a (personalized?) handmade gift or souvenir!
Because Japanese artisans are dedicated and skilled, we recommend you to meet one at his/her workshop or shop during your stay in Japan if you wish to discover Japanese crafts and meet Japanese people. Plan ahead to get an appointment, hire a knowledgeable interpreter and maybe find an illustrated book in English to bring back home afterwards. If you end up far from Tokyo or Kyoto, take the opportunity to savour regional food, discover a little-known area, and send local postcards to your friends and family :) What kind of great artisan would you like to meet on holidays in Japan? Why?
Special thanks to Kanesaka-sensei for his explanations and for allowing us to use his photo.
- Artisan = 職人 (shokunin), Miniature sculpture = 微細彫刻 (Bisai-chokoku).
- Daikoku = 大黒 = 大黒天 (Daikoku-ten), Ebisu = 恵比寿.
- 7 Gods of Fortune = 七福神 (Shichi-fukujin).
Have you ever visited a Shinto shrine at night in Japan? Except for special celebrations (e.g. New Year), Japanese Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples typically end their service around 17:00 and provide little or no light afterwards so tourists cannot see much at night even if the gates remain open…
Shinto shrine near Ochanomizu station in Tokyo, Kanda-myojin is an exception: you can admire its beautiful lanterns and illuminated statues every night until 23:00! Our photos (19 December 2013) show you its main hall, outdoor lanterns and a statue of the god Daikoku.
Because the night falls early and is safe in Japan, we recommend you to visit a lit-up shrine before dinner if you appreciate the Japanese culture, traditional architecture or Asian religions. Some Japanese people will tell you to beware of monsters at shrines during the night but, if you are not afraid, you can bring back a pleasant unique memory, special holiday photos and another feeling about Japanese spirituality :)
- Shinto shrine = 神社 (jinja), Buddhist temple = お寺 (otera).
- Kanda shrine = 神田明神 (Kanda-myojin), Daikoku = 大黒 = 大黒天 (Daikoku-ten).
- Tokyo = 東京, Ochanomizu station = 御茶ノ水駅 (Ochanomizu-eki).