Beyond Tokyo

Explore the enchanting differences between shrines and temples in Japan

One of the most frequently asked questions from people traveling to Japan is what is the difference between shrines and temples? The religion of Japan is “Shintoism”, right? There is such a thing. So this time, I would like to touch on the difference between a shrine and a temple.

Kitaguchi Sengen shrine

There are about 80,000 shrines and 77,000 temples in Japan. Both shrines and temples are very sacred places, and they are places where you can pray peacefully and relaxed. Its unique space and beauty are indispensable for sightseeing in Japan.
Not only do you have to look at its unique beauty and take pictures, but you can also experience the cultural part of it, which will make your trip to Japan even more fulfilling. So, whether you’re drawn to the mystical allure of shrines or the serene wisdom of temples, Japan’s sacred sites promise an unforgettable adventure!

In the first place, the difference between a shrine and a temple is a facility with a different religion. Due to the differences in religious beliefs, the content of prayer is mainly different between shrines and temples.

Shrine:
We worship God at Shinto religious facilities. At the shrine, people pray for happiness and wishes in this world, and when their wishes come true, they come to thank them.

Isosaki Shrine

Temples:
Enshrine the Buddha in a Buddhist religious facility. At the temple, we express our gratitude for our daily lives and pray for a paradise after death.

Hase Temple

So how are Shinto and Buddhism different? Here are some of the differences between Shinto and Buddhism.

Difference Between Shinto and Buddhism
Shinto is an ethnic religion born in Japan. In Shintoism, it is believed that gods dwell in everything around us, and are sometimes described as “eight million gods”. Shinto is not a monotheistic religion, but a polytheistic religion. The supreme deity of Shinto is Amaterasu, the radiant sun goddess. Multiple gods are enshrined in the shrine, and the gods enshrined in each shrine are called “Saishin”. In some cases, those who have achieved great feats are enshrined as gods in shrines. For example, Nikko Toshogu Shrine is Tokugawa Ieyasu, Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is Sugawara Michishin, and Meiji Jingu Shrine is Emperor Meiji and Empress Meiken. The shrine will be set up in a “special sanctuary”.

Hakone Shrine

The shrine enshrines the “divine body” in which the gods dwell. The divine body is the object of worship. There are various types of deities, from mirrors and swords to the sea, to mountains, to things in nature that have been transformed into animals. For example, the shrine of Asama Shrine’s divine body is majestic Mt. Fuji, and the Atsuta Jingu cradles an ancient sword.
It is believed that all the objects enshrined in the shrine have spiritual power and protection.

Asama Shrine

Since there is no guru or doctrine, there is no teaching not to do this, but if I dare to name a few, it is rooted in the hearts and cultures of many Japan people, such as “giving in,” “supporting each other,” “thanks,” and “punishment.”

Buddhism is a foreign religion that originated in India and was introduced to Japan around the 6th century via China. Buddhism is a world religion founded by Buddha, and it offers prayers based on scriptures and thinks about people’s salvation, such as how to go to the Pure Land of Paradise after death. The temple is decorated with the “Gohonzon”, which is the object of worship. The highest rank is a Buddha called “Amitabha”. More than half of the temples in Japan have Amida enshrined.

Zojoji Temple

The cornerstone of Buddhist teachings is “reincarnation,” in which life and death circulate. It is an image of becoming enlightened through prayer and breaking out of the painful cycle of life and death. There is a teaching called “causal retribution” that all evil deeds will return and will be unfortunate in the next life, and conversely, good deeds will remain as virtues and will return in a fortunate form. Buddhism has precepts, and there are precepts that prohibit stealing and killing. Compassion and mindfulness guide our actions.

Kamakura Kenchoji Temple

In addition, there are several sects of Buddhism, and one of them, Zen Buddhism, is different from the idea that you can get out of suffering just by praying based on the scriptures, and the idea of attaining enlightenment through rigorous training without relying on the scriptures. Some of you may have heard of it as “Zen” overseas.
Zen training is mainly carried out in the great outdoors, but in order to practice from indoors, Zen Buddhist temples also feature a beautiful Zen garden of “dry mountain water” that represents nature.

Zen Place

Are Japan people irreligious?
It is said that 61% of people in Japan are not religious, but in addition to first pilgrimage, grave visits, and weddings, there are many Japan people who visit shrines and temples and hold festivals at every milestone.
Unlike monotheistic countries, polytheistic Japan does not worship on a fixed day, and it may be difficult to understand when you see Christmas celebrated or Buddhist people having weddings in churches. For better or worse, Japan’s openness to religion has allowed it to absorb cultural influences from around the world at a very rapid pace.

New Year’s Day in Shrine

How to distinguish a shrine from a temple
There is a torii gate at the entrance of the shrine, but the temple has a mountain gate, a bell, and a tomb. Shrines (jinja) are dedicated to kami (spirits or deities), and the torii symbolizes the transition from the mundane to the mystical, while the mountain gate(Sanmon) signify the boundary between our world and enlightenment.

Akagi Shrine

Look out for komainu, the mythical lion-dog guardians, gracing shrine grounds. Their fierce yet protective presence adds to the enchantment. Keep an eye out for statues of Nio—the fierce at temple, muscular guardians who ward off evil. Their solemn gaze invites contemplation.

Komainu at Hakone Shrine

The roof of the shrine is based on materials of natural origin and is characterized by planking on stilts. Compared to simple shrines, temples have more buildings, are more solemn, and have tiled roofs.
Since the temple is both a place of training and a place of living, there are various ancillary facilities such as kitchens and living rooms.

Kenchouji Temple Kamakura

Also, at the shrine, you cannot see the enshrined god like the Buddha statue in the temple. Shrines have priests and priestesses, while temples have monks and nuns.

Sometimes, shrines and temples share space, their torii gates intertwining. This reflects Japan’s rich history, where Shinto and Buddhism coexist harmoniously.

Differences in Worship Methods
First, cleanse your hands and mouth with hand water. After that, head to the main shrine. Put in the money and ring the bell. Up to this point, both shrines and temples are common.

Chozu

At the shrine, you will worship with “two bows, two clap, one bow”. Bow twice, clap twice, pray, and bow one last time.
In the temple, we do not clap our hands, but ring a large disc bell and silently put our hands together in prayer. Where there is an incense stand, we burn incense.
It is said that it is important to state your name and address at the shrine and express your gratitude before visiting with all your heart.
After visiting the shrine, when you leave the torii gate and the mountain gate, you bow to the main shrine.

Goshuin Seal
The Goshuin seal is a stamped certificate that is given as a proof of the visit to a shrine or temple. Collecting Goshuin seals is popular in Japan. This can be obtained at both shrines and temples.

In this article, we have introduced the difference between shrines and temples. It can be briefly summarized as follows.

  • Shinto shrines are Shinto facilities that originated in Japan and are built in sacred places to pray to the gods for happiness in this world. The structure is simple with natural materials. There is a torii gate and a komainu guards it.
  • The temple is a Buddhist religious facility that originated in India, and is a place to pray to the Buddha for gratitude in this life and for the Pure Land of Paradise after death. The structure is majestic and features a tiled roof. There is a mountain gate and a statue of Nio guards it.
  • Shinto teachings are rooted in the sensuous ethics of the Japan people
  • In Buddhism, reincarnation and causal retribution are the cornerstones of belief
  • Shinto does not have the precepts of Buddhism
  • Shinto and Buddhism are closely intertwined, and shrines and temples are sometimes located on the same site, making it difficult to distinguish them
Nikko Toshogu

How was it, everyone? Did you understand the difference between a typical shrine and a temple to feel Japan culture? So, dear travelers, pack curiosity, wander ancient paths, and let Japan’s whispers guide you.

Mahalo Nuiloa Local Guide Japan coordinates your desired trip. We look forward to supporting your trip to Japan. You can check the tour image of the trip on this site.

Local

Discover Japan’s Ancient Spirit: Festivals and the “Eight Million Gods”

Japan, a land steeped in tradition and natural beauty, has long embraced the concept of “eight million gods.” These divine beings are believed to reside in every aspect of our world, from the majestic sun to the tranquil rivers, the towering mountains to the vibrant flora and fauna.

As you explore this enchanting country, you’ll find that the Japanese people have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. Their agricultural roots have fostered a deep reverence for the land and its inhabitants.

Tsukiji Shishi Festival

Seasonal Rhythms and Spiritual Connections

In spring, as cherry blossoms bloom, we sow seeds with hope for a bountiful harvest. Summer brings contemplation of life’s impermanence, as we remember the departed. Autumn arrives, and we express gratitude for the abundance bestowed upon us. And in winter, we pray for good health and well-being.

Origins of Festivals: A Dance for the Sun God

While each region boasts its unique festivals, they all share a common purpose: to deepen the connection between humans and gods. Whether it’s the lively Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, the elegant Gion Festival in Kyoto, or the spirited Akita Kanto Festival, these events offer a glimpse into Japan’s soul.

Your Journey Awaits

As you travel through Japan, immerse yourself in these timeless traditions. Let the vibrant colors, rhythmic beats, and heartfelt prayers envelop you. Whether you witness a portable shrine parading through Tokyo’s streets or marvel at the mesmerizing Sumida River Fireworks Festival, you’ll carry the spirit of Japan with you.

Here are some of the most popular spring festivals held in Tokyo from May to June.

Kurayami Festival: Unveiling Japan’s Hidden Splendor

The Kurayami Festival, a captivating celebration that unfolds once a year in Fuchu City, Tokyo. From April 30th to May 6th, the Okunitama Shrine comes alive with ancient traditions, vibrant colors, and spirited performances.

Kurayami Festival

A Week of Enchantment

For seven magical days, the Kurayami Festival casts its spell. Imagine mikoshi shrines adorned with lanterns, floats parading through the streets, and the rhythmic beat of taiko drums echoing in the night. Each day brings new ceremonies, but the climax awaits on the final two days.

Origins and Legends

Fuchu, once known as Musashi Province, held a special place in the Kanto region. The Okunitama Shrine, founded in the 2nd century AD, stood at its heart. Legend has it that a sacred ritual, cloaked in darkness, protected the shrine’s divine spirit from prying eyes.

Kurayami Festival

A Youthful Tradition

Today, the Kurayami Festival continues its legacy. Teenagers flock to the festivities, often attending together on dates. Outside the shrine, colorful floats line the streets, children perform alongside adults, and lanterns illuminate the city. It’s like stepping into a scene from Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away.” ma Shrine comes alive with ancient traditions, vibrant colors, and spirited performances.

Sanja Festival: Tokyo’s Ancient Celebration
The Sanja Festival, a vibrant and time-honored event held annually at Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo. With a history spanning 700 years, this festival marks the arrival of early summer and draws 1.8 million visitors. Asakusa, with its Edo-era charm, comes alive during these three lively days.

Sanja Festival

The Binzara Dance: Harvest Blessings and Banishing Evil

At the heart of the Sanja Festival lies the Binzara Dance—a Shinto ritual filled with symbolism. As dancers move gracefully, they invoke blessings for a bountiful harvest of the five grains (rice, wheat, barley, beans, and millet) and drive away malevolent spirits.

The Mighty Mikoshi: Enhancing Spiritual Power

The highlight of the festival is the mikoshi procession. Imagine a portable shrine, adorned with sacred symbols, carried by devotees. As they lift, sway, and shake the mikoshi in all directions, they believe the god’s spiritual energy intensifies. Good harvests, abundant fish, and protection from plagues are the desired outcomes.

Sanja festival

When visiting the Sanja Festival, watch out for the mikoshi bearers—they carry their burden with fervor! Join the festivities, soak in the vibrant atmosphere, and celebrate Tokyo’s rich traditions.

Sanno Festival: Tokyo’s Time-Traveling Celebration

The Sanno Festival, a captivating event held at Hie Shrine in Akasaka. On June 7th, a grand procession of approximately 500 people, adorned in regal costumes, will wind its way from Hie Shrine to the Imperial Palace and through the bustling streets of Ginza. This magnificent parade stretches over 300 meters, covering a total distance of 23 kilometers in a day.

Sanno Festival

A Shrine with Royal Connections

Hie Shrine holds deep significance for the Tokugawa shogunate family, who once ruled from Edo Castle. Its history intertwines with the nation’s fortunes, as it provided financial support and prayers during critical junctures. The shrine gained prominence during the Tokugawa period, catching the attention of successive shoguns, including Iemitsu. Today, it stands as one of Japan’s three major festivals.

Time Warp to Edo Era

As you explore Tokyo, step back in time to the Edo period. Hie Shrine’s vibrant festivities evoke the spirit of ancient Japan, where tradition and pageantry come alive. The Sanno Festival offers a unique glimpse into the past, blending reverence, spectacle, and community.

Sanno Festival

Bon Odori: A Different Festival

While the grand procession captivates on June 7th, don’t miss the Bon Odori—a separate dance celebration held from 13th to 15th Jun. Tokyo’s heart beats with history, and Hie Shrine invites you to join the rhythm.

Tsukiji Shishi Matsuri: Tokyo’s Roaring Celebration
The Tsukiji Shishi Matsuri, a spirited event that unfolds over three days near the 10th of June. In the 1600s, Tokugawa Ieyasu orchestrated ambitious civil engineering projects to shape Edo (now Tokyo) according to the grand vision of the “Tenkafushin.” At that time, Tsukiji lay submerged beneath the sea, undergoing reclamation efforts. However, a formidable wave disrupted construction, making progress nearly impossible.

Tsukiji Shishi Festival

Legend has it that during this challenging period, a deity emerged with shining from the ocean. As the people prayed to this shining deity, the turbulent waves and winds subsided, allowing construction to proceed smoothly. This miraculous event occurred in 1659.

The Tsukiji Shishi Festival commemorates this legend with a captivating parade of floats. Imagine a dragon controlling the clouds, a tiger reigning over the winds, and colossal shishi lion heads compelling the entire world to obey with a single roar. The streets come alive as the people of Tsukiji Market join in the festivities, their shouts echoing through the air as a mikoshi—a portable shrine—parades through the bustling market.

Tsukiji Shishi Festival

So, traveler, carry the spirit of Japan with you. Whether you witness a mikoshi parade or marvel at fireworks reflected in the Sumida River, let these timeless traditions weave their magic. Your journey awaits—a symphony of gods, nature, and humanity.

We provide various travel coordination and guide services, so if you are interested, please see this page.

Local

How to Experience Japan Comfortably: Insider Tips for Travelers

Japan, with its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and unique experiences, is a dream destination for travelers.
In the spring of 2023, the famous tourist spots were overflowing with people due to the large number of tourists visiting Japan and the increase in domestic travel demand after Corona.

Voted the number one country in the world by global travel magazines in 2023, Japan attracted a record 3 million tourists in March this year. This figure represents an increase of 11.6% compared to pre-pandemic 2019. And the number of domestic travelers increased by 97.2% compared to the previous year, indicating an increase in demand for domestic travel.

Chureito Arakurayama Park

While domestic and international tourism demand is recovering rapidly and regaining its liveliness, tourists are concentrating on some areas and times of the day, and there are concerns that excessive congestion and violations of etiquette will affect the lives of local residents, reduce travelers’ satisfaction, and deteriorate the landscape.
It is very happy that many people from overseas are attracted to Japan and visit this country, and the local people want to make this beautiful landscape sustainable and enjoy it for a long time with the tourist. For this reason, each region and the Japan Tourism Agency have begun to take measures to prevent and improve overtourism, but it will take some time to respond to rapid changes.

Sacred place of slam dunk

However, even in this situation, it is possible to enjoy beautiful nature, scenery, traditional culture, and unique experiences comfortably without crowds with a little ingenuity. We sincerely hope that travelers from overseas will be able to enjoy the wonderful scenery and culture of Japan as comfortably as possible. Therefore, here are some tips to help you enjoy Japan more comfortably.

There are two main ways to do this. The first is a “Timing is everything”, and the second is “Discover hidden gems”. Let’s take a look at each of them.

1.Timing is everything
If you are visiting Japan for the first time, of course, you will want to visit popular tourist spots introduced on SNS. Avoid peak tourist times by exploring attractions early in the morning or late in the evening. You’ll have a more serene experience without the crowds.

For example, Asakusa is famous for its large red Kaminarimon gate, the main hall of Tokyo’s oldest temple, and the shopping street on the approach. The shopping street on the approach is generally open from around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so you can’t enjoy shopping early in the morning or at night, but Sensoji Temple opens at 6 a.m. and is illuminated every day until around 11 p.m., so you can see a different face from the day in the quiet and calm atmosphere.
Even if you can’t get up that early, I recommend it’s somewhat better to go to Sensoji Temple by 9 o’clock.

Illuminated Sensouji Temple

Even after most of the Tsukiji Market was moved to Toyosu Market, it still remains in the place where it was opened in 1935 as a tourist spot where you can experience Tokyo food culture. There are made up from two market areas in Tsukiji: an inside market visited by food professionals and an outside market visited by tourists.
The inside market is open only to professionals from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., but after 9 a.m., the market open for public to buy fresh foods. For food professionals who work early in the morning, there are cafeterias around the outside market that open before 9 a.m. If it’s before 9 a.m., it’s not so crowd, so how about eating an early breakfast in Tsukiji?

Tsukiji Inside Market

Toyosu food Market, the latest food market, is also easy to get to from central Tokyo. You can watch the “tuna auction” from 5:30 to 6:30 in the morning at Toyosu. As in Tsukiji, there are restaurants that are open from around 6 a.m. for those who work from early in the morning. I think it’s an interesting experience to enjoy breakfast after watching the tuna auction in the early morning.

Tuna Auction Toyosu

In addition, Shibuya is full of people looking for many cutting-edge fashions on weekends, so there are relatively few people in the morning or late at night on weekdays. You can also see the flow of people walking skillfully through the scramble intersection from the upper floors of some buildings.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing

Visiting popular tourist spots early in the morning not only means there are fewer people, but you’ll also get a different look than usual.

Select a calm season
Each with its peak and off-season in four seasons of Japan. The local stagger the time of year to avoid the crowds and visit scenic places.
The cherry blossom season, there are about 200 types of cherry blossoms in Japan, and the flowering timing varies depending on the region and variety. In the suburbs of Tokyo, the early-blooming Kawazu cherry blossoms are famous, and they begin to bloom around the beginning of March, and blooming Yamazakura at Kawaguchiko lake and Chichibu in May.
In addition, early March is before the school spring break, so it is a very good timing for spring travel when there are few tourists.

Kawazu Sakura

Understand Holidays in Japan
The rate of paid leave taken by Japan is very low in the world. As a result, the number of domestic travelers increases during national holidays. Especially, Family trips increase during the specific timing of August (Obon) and New Year holidays.

Holidays in 2024

  • December 30th ~ January 3rd: New Year holidays
  • March 25 ~ April 7: School Spring Break
  • April 30 ~ May 6: Golden Week
  • July 20 ~ August 31: School summer vacation
  • August 10 ~ August 13: Summer break (Obon)
  • September 14~16, 21~23: Silver Week

Why don’t you take a slightly “staggered trip” to avoid the crowds and enjoy the wonderful scenery?
From here, I will touch on how to enjoy each season trip.

Spring: Symphony of Flowers
After the cherry blossom season is over, after spring break and after the Golden week holidays, domestic travel demand is in the off-season, and good timing for travel Japan.

Shiofune Kannon Azelea
  • Azelea and Nemophila: At this time, parks and temples gardens burst forth with color as azaleas and nemophila (baby blue eyes) bloom. Imagine strolling through a sea of delicate petals, each one whispering secrets of renewal.
  • Spring festivals: The air is charged with excitement during spring festivals. From traditional rituals to modern celebrations, there’s something for everyone. Try a local matsuri (festival) where vibrant floats parade through narrow streets, accompanied by lively music and laughter.
  • Hydrangeas: Before the rainy season arrives, hydrangeas steal the spotlight. Their vivid blues, pinks, and purples transform gardens and hillsides. Wander along forest paths, and let these captivating blooms transport you to a dreamy realm.
Hydrangeas in temple
  • Countryside: The beautiful countryside filled with water is a beautiful sight unique to this time of year. The rolling hills, and rice paddies, the countryside comes alive, reflecting scenery in mirror-like ponds
Hoshi Toge Tanada

Summer: Embrace the heatwave
In 2023, there were 64 midsummer days that exceeded 86℉, and 22 days of extremely hot days that exceeded 95℉.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has predicted that it will be a hot summer this year as well. It is very difficult to go out during the day time in the hot season, but there are some ways to enjoy Japan to the fullest, such as

Hachiouji Summer Festival
  • Chase the cool breezes:
    • leaving the city center and visiting the mountain side where the temperature drops a little.
  • Indoor Culture Delight:
    • Experiencing Japan culture indoors to find cultural treasures.
  • Summer festivals and fireworks under the stars.
    • As twilight paints the sky, Japan comes alive. Night festivals and Hanabi (fireworks) where magic happens. Imagine lantern-lit streets, and the scent of yakitori wafting through the air. Join locals in celebrating summer—dance, laugh, and savor the moment.
  • Mt. Fuji’s call:
    • The climbing only permit period is from July to September. However, mountaineering regulations will be stricter from 2024 to prevent dangerous climbing, so please be prepared when you go.

Autumn: Symphony of colors
Autumn in Japan—a symphony of colors, whispers of cool breezes, and secrets tucked away in every leaf.

Kitakamakura
  • Autumn leaves:
    • October unveils Hokkaido and Tohoku’s fiery foliage and move to Kanto in November. Picture crimson maples and golden ginkgo trees against a backdrop of misty mountains. It’s like stepping into a painting. Wrap yourself in a cozy scarf and wander—each leaf tells a story.
  • Stroll local town:
    • Early October is a little early for the bright red autumn leaves, but it is a very good time to strolling around the city with good weather, and the domestic travel demand is calm, so a trip to Japan at this time is highly recommended.
  • Stay Awhile:
    • November, many tourist spots become popular for domestic travel to watching autumn leaves, so it is recommended to don’t rush and soak in Hot springs. Sip Sake under moonlit maples. The leaves fall around you, like confetti celebrating life’s fleeting beauty.

Winter: Snow Wonderland

Step into a world where snowflakes pirouette and hot springs whisper secrets. Japan’s winter is more than just cold—it’s a canvas of wonder waiting to be explored.

Kamakura Festival
  • Winter: Snowfall Symphony
    • The first snow of 2023 was in late October in Hokkaido. Snow cover seems to be lagging behind every year due to global warming. In the heavy snowfall area from January to February, you can enjoy the beautiful cozy “Kamakura” (snow huts) and snowy scenery.
  • Onsen Magic
    • In the area with a beautiful winter scenery, it is recommended to take a lodging and enjoy the scenery and hot springs slowly. Imagine soaking in an open-air hot spring, snowflakes melting on your skin. Snow-capped peaks surround you. Steam rises, and you forget the chill. It’s bliss.
  • Tokyo’s Suprise
    • The air is clear during the winter, you will be surprised to see Mt. Fuji with snow on the top of the mountain even from Tokyo. It is also fun to strolling in the Tokyo city lights are illuminated from middle of November at nighttime.

2.Discover hidden gems
Here are seven ideas for exploring the local area’s hidden treasures and avoiding the crowds and traveling like a local. So, Let dive into the world of hidden gems.

  • Asakusa’s Time Capsule:
    • Around Sensoji Temple lies a maze of narrow streets-a glimpse into old-world Tokyo. There are retained the atmosphere of an old-fashioned downtown. Forget the crowds, here, you’ll find authenticity.
Japanese Confection shop
  • Hidden Mt. Fuji and blooming flowers
    • The famous cherry blossom and Mt. Fuji spots are not only the place introduced on SNS. Cherry blossoms are a representative flower of Japan and bloom everywhere to blend in with people’s lives. Explore the lesser-known corners—tiny shrines, lakeside cafes, and secret trails. The locals know where Fuji’s magic truly hides.
Fujiyoshida city
  • Misaki Fisherman’s bounty
    • Beyond the bustling Tsukiji Market lies Misaki and Oarai. An hour by train from Tokyo, these fishing ports blend tradition with daily life. Tasty fresh harvest of seafoods with affordable price, watch boats bob, breathe in the sea breeze and see the nature beauty. It’s seafood heaven without the crowds.
Misaki Port
  • Izu’s Hot spring Hideaways
    • Hakone and Kusatsu, which are famous as hot spring resorts, are also attractive, but there are many great hot springs like a Shuzenji in the nestled mountains of Izu offers serenity. Soak in wooden tubs, listen to cicadas, and let the hot spring waters heal your soul.
Shuzenji Temple
  • Mt. Fuji’s Volcanic flow town
    • Bullet trains whisk you to Mishima—a city shaped by Fuji’s fury. Underground springs feed its rivers, and cherry blossoms bloom along volcanic paths. It’s a canvas of contrasts—fire and water, ancient and modern.
Mishima
  • Niigata Countryside Canvas
    • Niigata Echigo Yuzawa isn’t just for skiers. In spring, summer, and fall, it hosts the “Daichi no Art Festival.” Imagine sculptures against rice fields, sunflowers nodding, and laughter echoing. There is art woven into nature in the 1 hours from central Tokyo by bullet train.
Daichi no Art Festival
  • Okutama’s Valley Whispers:
    • Two hours from Tokyo lies Okutama—a realm of emerald valleys and ancient forests. Hike moss-covered trails, dip your toes in crystal-clear streams, and breathe in pine-scented air. Nature’s symphony awaits. Okutama also has Sake breweries.
Tama Area

It has many wonderful towns and landscapes that are still unknown in Japan. Why don’t you embark on a hidden treasure hunt?
This site provides images of some tours. Please contact us if there is a place you would like to visit even if it is not listed here. We look forward to joining you on a journey to find hidden treasures.

Local

Discover the Enchanting Tokyo Imperial Palace!

The Imperial Palace is one of the most popular tourist spots as a captivating blend of history, nature, and regal splendor in Tokyo, visited by many tourists from Japan and abroad. The Imperial Palace is still the residence of His Majesty the Emperor, but until the 1868, it was the residence of the shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. As you step into this majestic realm, let your imagination soar as we unravel its secrets. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply curious, the Imperial Palace promises an unforgettable experience.

Spread across 115 acres, the Imperial Palace is a sprawling oasis. Lush gardens, serene moats, and massive stone walls encircle this regal haven. As you explore, let the whispers of centuries past guide your steps. Now, I would like to introduce how to visit this large Imperial Palace.

How do we get there?
Around the Imperial Palace is dotted with Tokyo Station and several subway stations. If you visit from Sakuradamon Station, Kasumigaseki Station, Hibiya Station, or Nijubashi Station, you can quickly reach the Nijubashi where a photographer’s delight.
If you are participating in an Imperial Palace guide tour that requires a numbered ticket, Kikyo Gate is the start, so Otemachi Station will be nearby.

Nijubashi

How do I get into the Imperial Palace?
There are places in the Imperial Palace where you can visit for free at any time, and there are places where you need a numbered ticket. Please check the map from here.

Map of imperial palace

You can visit the Sakurada Gate and the Nijubashi Bridge at any time freely without a numbered ticket.

Sakuradamon Gate

The East Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Mondays, Fridays, and designated holidays. (Closing time is subject to change depending on the season)
There is a photo spot on the Sakuradamon side to take pictures of the Nijubashi bridge, the main gate, and the contrast with the city buildings.

Ninomaru Garden in east garden

If you like a history and want to freely explore the ruins of the old Edo Castle, the last residence of the Tokugawa shogunate and the Japan garden, you can see it without a numbered ticket.

Fujimi Yagura

What is a numbered ticket tour?
In this area, a tour guide from the Imperial Household Agency will spend one hour touring from the Imperial Household Agency, the East Gort of the Palace, the main gate of the Imperial Gate, and Yamashita Street, which is famous for cherry blossoms, in groups of each language. It is a popular tour because it is a place that you cannot usually enter, so there are many people who want to go there at least once. map

How to get a numbered ticket
This tour, which takes place twice a day (9:00am and 1:00pm), can accommodate 200 people with advance booking each time. Advance reservations will be made at 5 a.m. on the first day of each month, one month before the visit date. Please check the detail from here.
If you were unable to make a reservation, only 300 people can get a numbered ticket on the day, so why not give it a try? However, it is very popular, so you need to go about 1 hour before the numbered ticket distribution.
In addition, a limited area is open to the public for a limited time during the cherry blossom season in spring and autumn leaves, so there are times when you can enter without a numbered ticket, so please check the Imperial Palace open schedule.

Let’s enter!
You can enter the Imperial Palace from 30 minutes before the start time of the tour. You will be required to show your ID, so please be sure to bring your passport.

Kikyomon Gate

Once inside, from Kikyomon gate, you will be inspected and escorted to the waiting room. In the waiting room, there is a shop where you can buy souvenirs that can only be bought here, vending machines and toilets.
You will not be allowed to buy drinks or go to the restroom during the tour. Due to security reasons, you will not be able to leave in the middle, so please be sure to prepare in advance. Also, the shop is closed after started the tour, so if you wanted to buy souvenirs, please buy them before the tour.

Waiting room

Until the tour start time, the guide will give you an explanation about the overall experience and history of the Imperial Palace, and then the tour will start with groups in different languages.

At first, look at the Fujimi Tower on your right and proceed to the east garden of the palace. The Fujimi Tower was rebuilt two years after it was destroyed by fire in 1657 and is a valuable building that still exists in the main building of Edo Castle.

Fujimi Yagura Tower

Next is the Imperial Household Agency. The Imperial Household Agency was built in 1935 and was used as a temporary palace until the palace was built.

Imperial Palace Agency building

The East Cort of the Palace is a place where members of the Imperial Family come out to greet each other on New Year’s Day and the Emperor’s Birthday. In front of this terrace can accommodate 2,000 people.

East Court

Next is the main gate iron bridge. Standing on the bridge where you can see the outside without a numbered ticket, you can see the skyscrapers. This will be the turning point of this tour.

From Main gate iron bridge

On the way back, go through Yamashita Street, where greenery and various flowers bloom, and return to Kikyo Gate.

Yamashita Street

Finally, return the badge and you’re done.

Summary

The Imperial Palace is a very large area, and there are areas where you can see freely and areas that require numbered tickets.
If you wanted to participate in the Imperial Household Agency guided tour, you need to get a numbered ticket. In that case, it will take about one and a half hours. If you wanted to see the Nijubashi bridge or see the ruins of Edo Castle only, you can go around freely without a numbered ticket.
You can choose a method of getting around the Imperial Palace that suits your tastes.
There is also a shop in the East Garden, so you can buy original goods. (Please note that not all of them are the same.)

If you would like to see not only the large gardens of the Imperial Palace but also the inside of the palace, we recommend visiting the Akasaka Palace State Guest House. This was once used as the residence of His Majesty the Emperor and is currently used as a place to entertain state guests from overseas. The inside of the palace is a neo-baroque building with great decoration. The fountain in the garden is also spectacular.

Akasaka Palace state of guest house

Please come and visit places where you can experience Japanese history and culture.

Beyond Tokyo

Winter Wonderland of Illuminated Mini Kamakura

I’d like to introduce the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival once a year hold from 1994, a magical winter tradition that graces the serene town of Yunishigawa in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. Picture this: almost thousand of miniature Kamakura (snow houses) aglow with candlelight, creating a fairyland of snow and light. This “Yunishigawa Kamakura Festival” is a superb view that has been certified as a Japan historical night view heritage. Let’s delve into the wonder of this unique festival and entice your adventurous spirit!

Yunishigawa Onsen: A Hidden Gem

Where is Yunishigawa Onsen? Nestled deep in the mountains, Yunishigawa Onsen lies in a quiet, heavy snowfall area. For over 800 years, its natural hot springs have been a soothing haven for travelers seeking respite. Legend has it that this very place once harbored the wounded Heike warriors after their defeat at the Battle of Dannoura. Imagine their healing baths amidst the snow-covered landscape!

Hot Springs and Customs The hot springs here were serendipitously discovered—when someone wondered why there was no snow in a particular spot, they dipped their hands in and surprised! Hot water flowed forth. To this day, customs unique to Yunishigawa persist. Along the No carp streamers flutter, no smoking occurs, and chickens are absent. Why? Fear of Heike descendants being discovered by pursuers.

Local Cuisine and Hearthside Meals Warm up around the hearth with hearty local cuisine. Picture yourself savoring game dishes while snowflakes dance outside. It’s an experience that connects you to the past, where history and flavors intertwine.

Irori
Hot pot

Historical Reconciliation In 1994, more than 800 years after the Heike-Genji conflict, a reconciliation event took place here. The echoes of ancient battles still resonate, making Yunishigawa a living testament to Japan’s rich heritage.

How to Reach Yunishigawa Onsen

Yunishigawa Onsen is easily accessible. Hop on the Tobu Limited Express from Asakusa or Kita Senju, and within 2.5 hours, you’ll arrive at this tranquil haven. From Yunishigawa Onsen Station, a scenic 25-minute bus ride takes you to the heart of the festival.

Tobu Spacia X

In addition, Yunishigawa Onsen Station is also famous as a station in an underground tunnel and a station with hot springs. The scenery of snow coming in from the tunnel is also tasteful and wonderful.
There is about one bus per hour, so it is recommended to check the connection time in advance.

Yunishikawa station

Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival

Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival, a celebration that began in 1994 as a revitalization effort for this serene town. Held every year during weekends throughout the month of January, this festival transports you to a magical world where more than 600 mini-Kamakura (snow huts) come alive with twinkling lights.

The setting: Heike Village and Along the Yunishi River
Heike Village: Imagine strolling through a charming village adorned with miniature snow houses. Each Kamakura is lovingly crafted and illuminated by dedicated volunteers. The scene evokes the spirit of ancient Japan, where warmth and community thrive amidst the winter chill.

Heike Village

Along the Yunishi River: Follow the gentle flow of the Yunishi River, where the banks are lined with these delightful snow structures. As dusk settles, the magic intensifies. The soft glow of candlelight dances on the snow, creating an ethereal ambiance. It’s no wonder this breathtaking vista has been officially recognized as a Japan Historical Night View Heritage.

Yunishi River

When and How to Experience It

Illumination Time: The festival begins at 5:30 in the evening, casting a spell over Yunishigawa. As the night deepens, the Kamakura glow brighter, beckoning you to explore their cozy interiors.

A Must-See View: Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, witnessing this spectacle is a must. The juxtaposition of snow, light, and tradition creates a superb view—one that lingers in your memory long after you’ve left.

Explore and Immerse: After 7 o’clock, step inside these tiny snow sanctuaries. Feel the warmth radiating from the candle-lit interiors as you marvel at the craftsmanship. It’s a chance to experience the heart of winter in a way that words can’t fully capture.

Summary

Yunishigawa’s quiet hot spring town, nestled deep in the mountains, promises solace. Let the steamy waters melt away your worries, and allow the snow-covered landscape to rejuvenate your spirit. It’s a place where time slows down, and the whispers of history echo through the snowy pines.

While this year event was closed, why not add Yunishigawa Onsen to your travel list for next year? Imagine the thrill of exploring illuminated Kamakura, savoring local cuisine, and immersing yourself in centuries-old traditions. Your heart will feel relaxing.


So, dear traveler, are you ready to immerse yourself in the magic of Yunishigawa Onsen? Pack your sense of wonder and embark on a journey to this historical gem, where snow, hot springs, and tradition intertwine.

illumination in Heike Village
Japan Culture Experience Local

Embrace the Magic of Retreat on Izu Oshima

Hello, everyone. Today, I’d like to share a retreat journey to Izu Oshima, one of Tokyo’s enchanting islands.
On this island, you can connect with untouched nature—the land, sea, and forest—while meditating, allowing your mind to clear and experience a sense of empowerment.
Izu Oshima, which can be reached in about 2 hours by boat from Tokyo, was a wonderful place where you can enjoy not only summer marine sports and hiking, but also mindfulness, ancient local life, and contact with the people. It is a recommended place for those who want to get away from the city and experience local island life, so I would like to introduce it.

Hajikama Shrine

What is Izu Oshima

It is the largest island of the Izu Islands, located 120 km south of Tokyo. At its center stands Mount Mihara, an active volcano with an elevation of 758 meters above sea level. The island is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, with about 97% of its land protected under the Natural Parks Act, preserving its natural landscapes and ecosystems.

Inhabited for around 8,000 years, the island currently has a population of about 7,000. Historically, it served as a penal colony, and intriguing legends surround its past. In literature, Nobel Prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata depicted Izu Oshima as the setting for his masterpiece, “The Izu Dancer”. Additionally, the island is renowned for its abundant marine products, the Camellia and Ashitaba which is famous for the healthy food.

annual rings of the earth

How to Visit

You can reach the island by both plane and boat. A 25-minute flight from Chofu Airport or a 2-hour boat ride from Takeshiba port in Tokyo will get you there. Alternatively, it’s just 45 minutes from Atami in Shizuoka. Once on the island, you can explore its 46-kilometer circumference by bus, taxi, rental car, or bicycle.

From Takeshiba port

Recommendation spots

While there are many attractive spots on Izu Oshima, here are some highlights:

Ura Sabaku(Back Desert)
On the east side of Mt. Mihara, which rises in the center of the island, there is a “back desert” covered with black volcanic rock.
Picture this: Magma, unleashed by countless eruptions, scorched the land, leaving behind a desolate expanse. The earth itself bears the scars of ancient fire, and the once-green vegetation now lies charred. As you step upon the volcanic rocks, their crunch echoes—a symphony of footsteps, wind, and distant birdcalls.

Ura Sabaku

Amidst this stark beauty, take a moment to breathe. Listen to the rhythm of the elements—the wind whispering secrets, the rocks beneath your feet, and the vast sky above. Here, in this “nothing” place, let your mind quieten, and your senses awaken. Feel the pulse of nature—the same force that shaped this black desert—and find solace in its ancient embrace.
Whether you’re seeking adventure or inner reflection, the Back Desert awaits, inviting you to lose yourself in its enigmatic allure.

Sa no hama(Black sandy beach)
Consisting of 1 km of basalt black sand, this black sand beach was formed by lava crushed by wind and rain over a long period of time, and volcanic ash flowing down mountain streams. The sand is moved by the waves and wind, but at the same time, the sand flows from the valley, so the coast is not eroded and this beautiful landscape is maintained. This place is also a spawning ground for sea turtles.

Su no Hama

When you sit on the black sand beach and look at it, you will be amazed at the warmth of the sand even though it is winter. If you meditate on this sandy beach for a while, you will only hear the sound of the waves and the sound of the wind. It is also wonderful to spend time facing yourself while watching the slowly flowing clouds and crashing waves.

Hajikama Shrine

The enchanting eastern side of Izu Oshima, where myths and legends come alive. Here, in the Senzu area, the ancient tale of Hiimi-sama still weaves its Mystical. On every January 24th, locals honor this legend through time-honored customs. Deep within a serene forest lies the Hajikama Shrine, intricately tied to Hiimi-sama’s story. This sacred spot is renowned as one of the island’s strongest power spots—a place where energy flows freely.

Hajikama Shrine

As you step into the forest, a hush settles around you. Towering cedar trees reach for the sky, their ancient roots anchoring them to the earth. Here, amid the quietude, you can reflect on the eons that shaped this land. The whispers of history blend with the rustling leaves, inviting you to connect with your inner self.

Close your eyes and breathe and embrace the silence. Feel the pulse of the island—the same energy that resonates through the Hajikama Shrine. Let the stillness envelop you, and perhaps, just perhaps, you’ll glimpse the secrets whispered by the ancient cedars.

Whether you seek solace, inspiration, or simply a moment of wonder, the Hajikama Shrine awaits, ready to share its timeless wisdom.

Camellia & Flower Garden

Izu Oshima is renowned as the “Island of Camellias.” These elegant trees, planted across the island as windbreaks, grace the landscape with their beauty. Camellias, revered flowers in Europe, find in the “Camelia and flower garden”, where approximately 2,000 camellia trees thrive. This camellia orchard holds international acclaim as an excellent garden, drawing camellia enthusiasts from around the world.

From October to May, you can admire the camellias in beauty bloom. And on clear days, don’t miss the breathtaking view of majestic Mount Fuji in the distance.

Step into this floral haven, breathe in the fragrant air, and let the vibrant colors soothe your soul. Izu Oshima’s Camellia & Flower Garden invites you to experience the magic of nature’s artistry.

Habu Port Town
Step into the nostalgic Habu Port Town, a quaint fishing town nestled in the southern part of the island. Here, time slows down, inviting you to savor every moment.

It’s a Crater Lake’s Transformed to the port. Picture this place in its infancy—a crater lake cradled by ancient volcanic hills. But as the years unfolded, the harbor emerged, its waters teeming with life. In 1800, the first ships docked, and Habu Port was born—a gateway to adventure and memories.

Habu Port Town

You can also feel the literary echoes. As you amble along the cobblestone streets, you’ll encounter echoes of literature. The inn was the setting for Yasunari Kawabata’s novel “The Izu Dancer” still stands—a testament to love, longing, and fleeting encounters. Imagine the characters who once sought refuge within its walls—their stories etched into the very inn.

Minatoya Memorial Property

But Habu Port City isn’t just a relic of the past. It breathes anew with renovated inns and cozy cafes, their wooden beams weathered by time. Step inside, and you’ll find warmth, freshly brewed coffee, and tales whispered by the sea breeze. Take a leisurely stroll through this harbor of memories.

Anko-san
Anko-san is a hard-working woman who lives in Izu Oshima. Anko-san played a vital role in supporting the island’s challenging life. While men were away working at sea or in the mountains, these women diligently visited the communal well known as “Hamanka”. There, they fetched water and carried firewood, ensuring the well-being of their homes and communities.

Anko-san

Anko-san’s attire includes a kasuri (traditional patterned kimono) and a tied mae-tare (a type of apron). They also wear a cloth headband. Their graceful posture and determined expressions left a lasting impression on visitors, including poets and artists who immortalized their beauty.
These traditional Anko-san dancers perform hand movements in sync with local folk songs, creating a unique and rustic beauty that captivates onlookers.

Anko dance

Summary

The retreat trip to Izu Oshima refreshed my mind and body, and I felt like I was infused with new energy.

Izu Oshima, where nature weaves its magic, and power spots await your discovery. This island, cradled by the sea, invites you to embark on a journey of wonder and self-reflection.

From ancient shrines to mystical forests, each spot resonates with energy. Perhaps you’ll find solace at the Hajikama Shrine, where whispers of centuries past linger. Or lose yourself in the Back Desert, where black volcanic rock tells tales of primordial fire.

Gaze upon vistas that defy description. The azure sea stretches beyond sight, and if luck favors you, Mount Fuji graces the skyline—a majestic scenery.

Indulge in the island’s warm embrace. Soak in mineral-rich hot springs, their healing waters soothing both body and spirit. And when hunger calls, savor local delicacies—seafood fresh from the ocean, camellia-infused treats, and flavors that dance on your tongue.

Engage with the islanders—their stories, laughter, and resilience. Share a cup of tea, listen to their tales, and feel the heartbeat of this place.

And as night falls, let the silence envelop you. Close your eyes, face the mirror of your thoughts, and find answers—or perhaps more questions. In this tranquil nature, you’ll rediscover yourself.

So, I recommend staying for minimum two days, let the island’s magic seep into your heart, and emerge anew—a seeker, a dreamer, and a soul ready to face the world.

Japan Culture Experience

Kintsugi embracing the Beauty of Imperfection

Hello, everyone. I had a Kintsugi experience the other day, so I would like to introduce you to a fascinating aspect of Japanese culture and aesthetics: kintsugi. Kintsugi is a pottery repair technique that has been used for a long time in Japan, and it was born out of the spirit of continuing to use broken parts while admiring them as individuality, by decorating cracked parts with golden seams.
The philosophy of thinking about scratches as part of the history of the item and breathing new life into it is connected to the Japanese aesthetic sense. Therefore, Kintsugi is not only a craft, but also a philosophy that embraces imperfection and impermanence.

Recently, the reverse idea of making these scars stand out and turning them into art, the Japanese spirit of “Mottainai” and also it feels like a meditation through the Kintsugi experience have become popular with many people from overseas.

The origin of kintsugi dates back to the 13th century, when a prized celadon bowl from China was broken and sent back for repair. The Chinese craftsmen used metal staples to join the pieces, which made the bowl look like it had large insects on it. The bowl was named Bakouhan, meaning “locust bowl”, and it became more valued for its unique appearance. It was cherished by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa and the tea master Sen no Rikyu, who appreciated kintsugi and spread its knowledge. Sen no Rikyu had a spirit of wabi-sabi, which is finding beauty in imperfection. He thought kintsugi was a suitable expression for that.

Kintsugi requires specialized skills and materials. It uses natural lacquer, which is made from the sap of the lacquer tree. Lacquer hardens by reacting with the moisture and oxygen in the air, creating a strong and durable bond. Gold powder is sprinkled on the lacquered parts to decorate the cracks and chips. Kintsugi can also use silver, copper, or other metals and colors, depending on the pottery and the preference of the kintsugi-shi, the kintsugi craftsmen. Kintsugi-shi think of the best method and design according to the condition and characteristics of the broken pottery. Kintsugi makes the pottery look different from its original form, but that is considered to enhance its individuality and value.

Kintsugi reflects the Japanese aesthetics and philosophy of life. It shows the respect for the history and the story of the pottery, rather than discarding it or hiding its damage. It celebrates the beauty of imperfection and impermanence, rather than seeking perfection and permanence. It creates a new value and meaning from the brokenness and the repair, rather than lamenting the loss and the flaw. Kintsugi teaches us to embrace our own scars and wounds, and to turn them into something beautiful and precious.

If you are interested in kintsugi, you can visit museums or workshops that display kintsugi works. You can also try kintsugi yourself with a simple kintsugi kit that is sold online or in some stores. Kintsugi can be applied not only to pottery, but also to other objects and materials. You can use your creativity and imagination to make your own kintsugi art.

Kintsugi is a wonderful way to experience the Japanese culture and aesthetics.

You can see the movie from Instagram here.

Local

Explore New Year’s activity in Japan!

A Happy New Year 2024!
As we welcome the new year, we want to express our gratitude for your continued trust and support.
May the new year be filled with exciting adventures, unforgettable experience, joy, and prosperity.
We look forward to helping you discover more of Japan’s hidden gems and creating unforgettable memories together in 2024.

In our first blog of the new year, we will introduce some New Year’s activities that take place in Japan. In Japan, there are many events to welcome the new year. Although what people do differ from person to person, I would like to introduce the main events that have been held from ancient times to the present day. If you are in Japan during the New Year period, why not try out these activities?

Typical New Year events

1.Hatsumode
2.Kakizome
3.Seven Lucky gods Tour

1.Toshikoshi Mairi、Hatsumode(年越し参り、初詣)

In Japan, from the end of the year to the beginning of the new year, New Year’s Eve visits, “Hatsumode,” are held at temples and shrines. This New Year’s Eve festival has the meaning of giving thanks for the old year and praying for safety and peace in the new year, and the New Year’s bell is rung 108 times to exorcise the 108 earthly desires of humans.

Joyanokane “除夜の鐘” is a Buddhist event in Japan where the temple bell is rung 108 times on New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day. This event is part of the “Joya no Kane” ceremony, which is the last ceremony of the year that expresses gratitude for the past year. To ring the bell, approach the bell and bow with your hands together before striking the bell with the wooden mallet attached to the bell by a rope. Finally, bow again and express your wishes or gratitude to Buddha in your heart.

Hatsumode is generally held between January 1st to 7th or January 15th, known as Matsunouchi, but many people visit temples and shrines between January 1st and 3rd. Matsunouchi refers to the period during which pine trees are displayed as a symbol of the New Year’s God welcoming. *Matsunouchi period differs depending on the region.

2.Kakizome (書初め)

Kakizome calligraphy ”書初め” is one of the traditional annual events that has been held in Japan since ancient times, and it is filled with the meaning of achieving goals and celebrating the new year, as people set their resolutions and plans for the year, as well as congratulatory words.
The Japanese proverb “一年の計は元旦にあり” means that you should make a plan or set a goal for the year on January 1st, preferably in the early morning. And the plan and target write down on a paper.

It is generally “Kakizome” is hold on January 2nd. The reason for this is that January 2nd of the new year is said to be the “beginning of things,” and it is said that if you start your first job, such as writing, learning, or doing business, from the 2nd, you will improve faster and last longer.

3.Seven lucky gods tour 七福神巡り

The Seven lucky gods tour (Shichifukujin Meguri) is the custom of visiting temples and shrines that enshrine the seven Lucky Gods during the New Year. The Seven Lucky Gods are seven gods that have been worshiped since ancient times as the gods of fortune and wealth. You can pray for happiness and health by visiting the Seven Lucky Gods. The activity is held all over the country, and although there is no set time, it is said that Matsunouchi (January 1st to 7th)is the best time to visit.
There are several places in Tokyo where you can tour the Seven Lucky Gods, but Asakusa is the most famous among them. We will visit nine temples and shrines in Asakusa.

Here is the route of nine temples and shrines for Seven luck gods tour in Asakusa

Sensouji (浅草寺) Daikokuten (大黒天)
It is Tokyo’s oldest temple with a history of 1,400 years and is where Daikokuten, the god of treasure, is enshrined. It is also famous for its approach to the shrine, which is bustling with festivals throughout the year.

Asakusa shrine(浅草神社) Ebisu (恵比寿神)
Asakusa Shrine, where the three people who found the Kannon statue at Sensoji Temple are enshrined, is also famous for the Sanja Festival.
This shrine is dedicated to Ebisu, the god of good fortune that brings blessings from the sea and a large catch, and is a shrine where people pray for good luck.

Machituyashoden(待乳山聖天)Bishamonten (毘沙門天)
The symbol is the radish, which is said to purify the heart when offered. This is a shrine where people pray for business prosperity and good health.

④Imado shrine(今戸神社) Fukurokujyu (福禄寿)
It is popular as a god of matchmaking, and as the birthplace of beckoning cats, there are many cat ornaments on the grounds.

⑤Hashimafudoson(橋場不動尊)Hoteison(布袋尊)
Because this temple escaped damage during earthquakes and wars, it is said to be a temple that brings good luck and warding off evil spirits. The Hotei-sama here is a rare figure with a bag on his stomach instead of holding a bag.

⑥Ishihama shrine(石浜神社)Jurojin(寿老神)
The oldest shrine in Arakawa Ward, founded in 724. Minamoto no Yoritomo, the shogun of the Kamakura period, also prayed to the god of longevity during his conquest of Oshu.

⑦Yoshiwara shrine(吉原神社)Benzaiten (弁財天)
This shrine is located where there used to be a downtown area called the red-light district. The god of good luck, business prosperity, and skill improvement.

⑧Ootori shrine(鷲神社)Jurojin(寿老人)
It is the god of prosperous business, good fortune, and success, and is famous for the Tori no Ichi (Tori no Ichi) festival held in November and the “Nadeokame” decorated at the shrine.

⑨Yasakiinari shrine(矢先稲荷神社)Fukurokuju(福禄寿)
The god of business establishment, academic achievement, fulfillment of moral character, and long life in military affairs. He is wearing a crane symbolizing longevity, has white hair and a white beard, and has a harmonious and harmonious face, representing the highest ideal of a person.
A must-see is the ceiling painting of the shrine called “Japanese Horse Riding History”!

The Seven lucky gods tour will take you deeper into Asakusa, so you may be able to find local shopping streets and hidden treasures just for you. It will take about 3 to 4 hours to walk all the way, but it will be a very enjoyable walk. Why not try it as a memory of Japan?

Beyond Tokyo

Journey to the Geopark of Naka Izu

The Izu Peninsula is a peninsula rich in nature that was recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2018 and can be reached in about one hour from Tokyo.
The Izu Peninsula is also famous as a hot spring resort on the seaside, but this time we will introduce Mishima, Izu Nagaoka, and Shuzenji in the Naka Izu area, where you can relax and enjoy nature in the mountains.

Mt.Fuji and Izu city from Izu Panorama Park

What is a Geopark?
Geopark is a combination of the words “Geo” meaning earth and “Park” meaning park. As the name suggests, a geopark is defined as a management area that integrates “protection,” “education,” and “sustainable development,” which have international value from a geological point of view, as well as World Heritage sites, and Japan has 10 regional geoparks that have been recognized as world-certified.
In this area, we learn about the earth’s past from geology and topography, think about the future, and protect the rich nature as a place to work.

In 2018, the Izu Geopark became the ninth in Japan to be recognized as a global park. The Izu Peninsula was originally a group of submarine volcanoes. The movement of the plates continues, continues to push into Honshu, and tectonic movements continue to create various topography. These geological peculiarities form the Izu Peninsula, which has many beautiful landscapes and hot springs.

Mishima City

Mishima
The lava that flowed out from the eruption of Mt. Fuji about 10,000 years ago created the land around Mishima Station and the northern part of the Izu Peninsula.
Near the station, you can see a garden called “Rakujuen” where lava can be seen here and there, and a river flowing with spring water from Fuji can be seen here and there in Mishima City. Walking along the walking path in the beautiful river is also very pleasant in the summer.

Rakujyuen Park

Mishima Taisha Shrine, which has a deep history and connection with Mishima, is one of the highlights. This shrine is located on top of the mudslide caused by the Great Collapse of Mt. Fuji that occurred 2,900 years ago. The shrine grounds are decorated with large stones that were carried by a mudslide. Mishima Taisha, located in this volcanically active area, enshrines a god related to volcanoes.

Mishima Taisha Shrine

Izu Nagaoka
Izu Nagaoka is a station on the way from Mishima to Shuzenji. There is Mount Katsuragi, which is 452 meters above sea level. This mountain is called a “volcanic root” formed by the uplift of the magma path that passes deep underground due to tectonic movements.
The summit of this mountain is a panorama view spot called “Izu Panorama Park“, so you can see a superb view of Izu city and Mt. Fuji from the summit.

Shuzenji
It is a historic city centered on Shuzenji Temple, which is said to have been opened by Kukai in 807. It is located in a valley at the foot of a volcano that repeatedly erupted until 500,000 years ago.
Shuzenji is a small hot spring town, but it is a place that has been loved by many artists for its very calm atmosphere.

Shuzenji Hot Springs Town

There are places where you can see cherry blossoms in spring and beautiful autumn leaves in autumn. Niji no Sato and the maple forest are especially worth visiting as they are dyed with bright red autumn leaves.

Shuzenji Temple in Spring
Shuzenji Town
Niji no Sato

There are many places rich in nature within about one hour from Tokyo. Why don’t you get out of the city for a while and enjoy a trip to enjoy nature slowly.

Beyond Tokyo

Explore Mt.Fuji view spots

Many people still climb Mt. Fuji, which is a sacred pilgrimage site, and in the 12th century, many people came to worship there as a Shugendo dojo.
Mt. Fuji was born 100,000 years ago and has repeatedly erupted, taking its current form due to a major eruption in 1707. It has been dormant since then.

Its majestic appearance has influenced various artists and has been featured in many works of art. Fuji, the object of this faith and the source of art, was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2013.

The belief in the god who lives on Mt. Fuji has given rise to a tradition of valuing coexistence with the volcano and being grateful for the spring water at the foot of the mountain.
The spirit of pilgrimage to Mt. Fuji has been passed down through the ages, and the diverse cultural assets born of the faith are evidence of the continuing mountain worship.

Mt.Fuji, which fascinates many people both domestically and internationally due to its beauty. Therefore, many people think about where the best view is.

This time, I will introduce some view spots where you can see Mt. Fuji from the Yamanashi Prefecture side.

Here is the list of view spots

  • Kawaguchi Asama Shrine
  • Fuji Panorama Ropeway Observatory
  • Chureito on Arakurayama Park
  • Fujiyoshida city
  • Oshino Hakkai

Kawaguchi Asama Shrine
Kawaguchi Asama Shrine is one of the nine shrines that make up the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Site. Kawaguchi Asama Shrine was built in 865 to quell an eruption. There are vast shrine grounds, waterfalls, cedar trees that are over 1,200 years old, and a torii gate in the sky built to worship Mt. Fuji.
From this place of worship on the mountainside of Lake Kawaguchi, you can see the red torii gate and the beautiful Mt. Fuji.

Tenku no Torii

You can drive up from the main hall of the shrine at the foot of the mountain, but it’s even more special to take a leisurely 20-minute walk and enjoy the scenery before seeing the torii gate in the sky.

Beyond this torii gate is a small waterfall where Shugen monks used to cleanse their bodies and pray for safety before climbing the mountain.

Haha no Taki

Taking a break while looking at Mt. Fuji from the scenic terrace cafe on the way here will also be a wonderful experience.

Panorama Terrace cafe

You can reach to the Kawaguchi Asama Shrine by car, bus or bicycle.

Fuji Panorama Ropeway observatory
If you want to easily see Mt. Fuji up close, this Fuji Panorama Ropeway is recommended.
This ropeway, which can be reached from Lake Kawaguchi station by bus or 15 minutes on foot, has a platform in front of the bus stop.
It takes about 3 minutes to reach the top of Mt. Tenjo. There is a tea house, swings, and an observation deck at the top of the mountain. Since there is not much walking involved, anyone can easily see the spectacular view of Mt. Fuji.

Observatory on the Mt.Tenjo

Chureito Arakurayama Sengen Park
Chureito built in 1958 on the Arakurayama Sengen park to enshrine about 960 citizens from Fujiyoshida who died in the war. The pagodas size is 19.5m high and 7.3 square meter.
It’s one of the 100 beautiful night view in Japan. Nowadays, the great view became famous as the symbol of Japan in the world.

Chureito

You need to climb 398 steps to see the great view, but you can get reward of the valuable scenery.
To get to the Chureito Pagoda, visit Sengen Shrine, which is about a 10-minute walk from Shimoyoshida Station, and then climb the stairs or slope on the side to reach the observatory.

From 398 steps

Mt.Fuji can be seen beautifully from the grounds and stairs of Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine, so you can enjoy various scenery. The contrast with the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves makes it even more beautiful.

Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine

Fujiyoshida City

Fujiyoshida City is located very close to Mt.Fuji Station. You can see Mt.Fuji, which coexists with your daily life, from Honmachi-dori shopping street, Kanatori gate, rural park, and Fujimi Bypass.
You can also visit to Chureito Pagoda and Oshino Hakkai from Fujisan Station.

Honmachi Street

There are many must-see spots such as the Kitaguchi Sengen Shrine, which is the gateway to climbing Mt. Fuji, and the Mt. Fuji Museum, so you can take a bus, but you can find wonderful spots just for you by pottering around on a bicycle.

Noson Koen Park

Oshino Hakkai
Oshino Hakkai is a small village with eight ponds of spring water from Mt. Fuji. The carp swimming in the transparent pond looks fantastic.

Oshino Hakkai

This small village is full of shops offering souvenirs and food.
It is a popular place among tourists for its beautiful rural scenery where traditional houses and Mt. Fuji coexist. You can get there by bus, taxi or bicycle from Fujisan Station.

During the cold season, on sunny days, and early in the morning, you can see the beautiful Mt. Fuji without a cloud in sight.
Clouds tend to cover the area from around noon, so we recommend getting up a little early and heading to your favorite spot.