Many of us, maybe, are not the followers of Buddhism or Shintoism. Visiting shrines and
temples is a definitely great idea in Japan, though. Perfectly, all visitors are warmly welcome, including non-Buddhist or Shinto followers. Visiting shrines or temples to see their hidden beauty, unique construction, impressive architecture accompanied by their own old stories will truly make us deeply sense the strong feelings of being in Japan.
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Kyoto is no doubt one the best places to see many shrines and temples in Japan. And here a great suggestion for those of you who want to go to Kyoto as a backpacker or on budget style, you can visit some of these following ones for free. Many shrines and temples in Kyoto are free for the public. And of course, their beauty still enchants whoever comes to see it.
Located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, this shrine lies on the base of the Inari mountain, about 233 meters above sea level. The shrine includes a trail up to the mountain which ranges along 4 kilometers and it takes you about 2 hours to walk up.
- Add: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882, Japan
- Opening time: Dawn to dusk
- Tel: +81 75 641 7331
- Web: inari.jp
- Facebook: facebook.com/Fushimi-Inari-taisha
- Foursquare: foursquare.com/fushimiinaritaisha-shrine
- How to get: 3-minute walk from JR Inari Station on the JR Nara Line or 5-minute walk from Keihan Railway Fushimiinari Station
See more Fushimi Inari Shrine guide at here.
2. Toyokuni Shrine
This shrine was located in Higashiyama area, Kyoto. This shrine was built in 1599 to commemorate Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a preeminent daimyo, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan’s second “great unifier”.
- Add: 530 Chaya-chō, Shōmen-dōri, Yamato-ōdōri, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan
- Opening time: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
- Tel: + 81 075 561 3802
- Twitter: twitter.com/toyokunishrine
- Foursquare: foursquare.com/toyokuni
- How to get: about fifteen-minute walk from the JR Kyoto Station
3. Honen-In Temple
This is one of the most tranquil temples in Kyoto. This temple has a refreshing and calm
atmosphere. You can walk from Ginkaku-ji to reach this temple.
- Add: 30 Goshonodan-cho, Shishigatani, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
- Opening time: 6 am – 4 pm
- Tel: +81 75 771 2420
- Web: honen-in.jp
- Facebook: facebook.com/Honen-in-Temple
- How to get: 10min walk from Ginkaku-ji-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 or 17 from Kyoto Station
4. Kyoto Imperial Palace
Kyoto Imperial Palace was a former residence of Japan Imperial Family until 1868. It is located in the spacious Kyoto imperial park. The structures, though modern reconstructions, are lovely.
- Add: Kyoto Gyoen 3, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
- Opening time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Tel: +81 75 211 1215
- Web: sankan.kunaicho.go.jp
- Facebook: facebook.com/Kyoto-Imperial-Palace
- How to get: 10-minute ride of Subway Karasuma Line from “Kyoto Station” to “Marutamachi Station”, then approximately 3-minute walk from “Marutamachi Station”.
5. Kamigamo-Jinja Shrine
Located in the Kita ward of Kyoto, this is the oldest shrine in town. Most of the shrine complex has been designated as Preservation Areas of Historic Landscape. It’s quite a trek from Downtown Kyoto to Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, but it’s worth your effort if you are a fan of Shinto shrines. If you’re lucky, they’ll be a traditional wedding happening when you’re at the shrine.
- Add: 339 Kamigamo Motoyama, Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8047, Japan
- Opening time: 24 hours (8:30 am – 4 pm inside of Romon gate)
- Tel: +81 75 781 0011
- Web: kamigamojinja.jp
- Facebook: facebook.com/Kamigamo-Shrine
- How to get: In front of Kamigamojinja-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 37 from Kitaoji
Station, Karasuma subway line
6. Kitano-Temmangu Shrine
This shrine is no doubt a comprehensive head shrine in Japan’s Tenmangu shrines. Kitano
Tenmangu is also famous for its plum blossoms which can be seen in their full glory usually in February or early March.
- Add: Bakurocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 602-8386, Japan
- Opening time: 5 am – 6 pm April-October and 5:30 am-5:30 pm November-March
- Tel: +81 75 461 0005
- Web: kitanotenmangu.or.jp
- How to get: In front of Kitano-Tenmangu-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 50 or 101 from Kyoto Station
7. Matsunoo-Taisha Shrine
Matsuno Taisha is also one of the oldest shrines in Japan. It is home to a spring at the bottom of Arashiyama mountain that is believed to be blessed. Famed for its beautiful gardens, the shrine grounds are home to 3,000 rose bushes which are in bloom during April and May.
- Add: 3 Arashiyama Miyamachi, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0024, Japan
- Opening time: 5:00 am – 6:00 pm (9:00 am – 4:00 pm for the garden)
- Tel: +81 75 871 5016
- Web: matsunoo.or.jp
- How to get: Taking a Kyoto subway Karasuma Line train to Shijo Karasuma, then changing to the Hankyu Kyoto Line for Katsura, then changing at Katsura for the Hankyu Arashiyama Line to Matsuo. (Total journey time is around 30 minutes).
8. Mibu-Dera Temple
This is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto that was built under Emperor Shomu, for the Chinese monks in Japan. Monk Ganjin introduced the Ritsu sect from China to Japan.
- Add: 31 Mibunaginomiyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8821, Japan
- Opening time: 8.30am-4.30pm
- Tel: +81 75-841-3381
- Web: mibudera.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/Mibu-dera
- How to get: Take city bus no. 28 from Kyoto station towards Daikaku-ji. Get off after 8 stops (around 15 minutes) at Mibu-dera-dori. From there head south and you will see the temple after 400 meters.
9. Nishi Hongan-Ji Temple
This temple was established in 1602 by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Nishi Hongan-Ji was listed as one of the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple is a Pure Land Buddhist paradise within walking distance of Kyoto Station. It’s one of the best sights in the Kyoto Station area.
- Add: Horikawa-dori, Hanaya-cho sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
- Opening time: (6am-5pm November-February) and (5.30am-5.30pm March, April, September, October) and (5.30am-6pm May-August)
- Tel: +81 75 371 5181
- Web: hongwanji.or.jp
- Facebook: facebook.com/Nishi-Honganji
- How to get: 15min walk from JR Kyoto Station Karasuma central gate
10. Shimogamo-Jinja Shrine
This is also one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. This shrine was built in the middle of 19th century. Another shrine, Kamigamo shrine is just beside this shrine. If you’re in town on May 3rd, do not miss the yabusame (horseback archery) contest held on the pedestrian approach to the shrine.
- Add: 59 Izumigawa-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
- Opening time: 6.30am-5pm
- Tel: +81 75 781 0010
- Web: shimogamo-jinja.or.jp
- Facebook: facebook.com/kamomioyajinja
- How to get: 10min walk from Demachiyanagi Station, Keihan line
Are you finding more top things to do in Kyoto: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out at here.