In keeping with the ancient custom, Yasukuni Shrine holds the yearly Mitama Festival around July 13-16 as part of the Obon festivities. Mitama refers to the spirit or soul of the dead. During this season, Japanese hang lanterns and place offerings at the altars as prayers for their ancestors’ spirits to be freed of their sufferings. Since 1947, the Mitama Festival has lightened up the Yasukuni Shrine grounds with more than 30,000 glittering lanterns or chochin.
Approximately 11km east from Nara Park, lies an ancient trail called Yagyu Kaido. This track once served as pilgrimage for mountain Buddhists, a form of mountain asceticism during the Nara and Heian period, therefore many historical sites, monuments, and ruins of the time remain here barely touched.
Japanese temples and shrines are not just beautiful to look at they’re also a chance to take part in some of Japan’s traditional and cultural activities. Though the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines do have some differences, the activities themselves are quite similar. Here are 5 different activities you can partake in at either a temple or a shrine.
Known as the Temple of Flowers, Mimuroto-ji sits amidst an expansive garden that offers a wonderful array of plants and trees coming in to bloom at different times throughout the year.
Niigata City is the biggest city in Niigata prefecture, the city is bordered by the Sea of Japan and is an exciting place to visit. An extremely underrated part of Japan with a mixture of the old and modern parts of Japanese history. This blend makes it a sight to behold with much to see and do. I decided to see for myself what was on offer in Niigata by taking a bus tour.
Have you thought about trying camping in Japan? It can be a fun way to bond with friends or family, and even meet new friends. A great spot for camping is Togakushi, which is located in Nagano, Japan.
But Omiya is more than just a gateway between differing versions of Japan. Omiya is quintessential Japan. With shrines dating back thousands of years to being the centre of bonsai culture, the city is a rich treasure trove of art, culture and history.
You don’t have to go far to experience the ancient, living practice of Kannon Pilgrimage. One of Japan’s three major Kannon pilgrimages is just eighty minutes by train from Tokyo!
Calling all bunny lovers! This shrine is a must visit if you’re planning a stop in Kyoto. Just a few blocks east of the bustling Heian Shrine lies the far more peaceful Okazaki Shrine. Once you make your way inside, you’ll quickly see why it’s become a popular place.
If you are in Tokyo and want to experience the Buddhist tradition of temple lodging, or “Shukubo”, you are in luck. Taiyoji, The Temple of the Sun, has everything you could want in a temple stay, just a two- hour train ride away.
However, ask tourists to draw a castle that looks quintessentially Japanese and nine times out of ten you’ll probably end up with something that looks like Himeji Castle. It may not be Japan’s most storied or strategically valuable castle, but it is almost certainly one of its most pleasing to the eye.
Whether you're in search of Zen or beautiful architecture, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples will undoubtedly be included on the itinerary for all visitors to Japan. Shrines and temples are open everyday with many hosting exciting festivals throughout the year.