Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa, Tokyo (Self Guided)

Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines dot Japan’s landscape. These temples and shrines are an architectural splendor and many of these can be found in every part of Tokyo. This guide will take you to the smaller Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in the Takanawa neighborhood of Tokyo. Most often overlooked by tourists, these temples and shrines are a beauty and should not be missed.
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Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa Map

Guide Name: Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa
Guide Location: Japan » Tokyo (See other walking tours in Tokyo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Author: ann
Koyasan Tokyo Betsuin

1) Koyasan Tokyo Betsuin

The Koyasan Tokyo Betsuin is a place of worship for the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. It is the Tokyo branch of a larger temple located in Koyasan.

The Koyasan Tokyo Betsuin was built on land donated by the Shoguns between 1596 and 1615. It is located in the Minato Ward, Takanawa in Tokyo. The Shingon Sect was brought to Japan by Kukai. The main image at the temple is that of Kukai seated in the main hall. The main hall also has the idols of many Bodhisattvas and Buddhist Deities. Notable images are that of Yamaraja, the Hindu God of death, Raga Raja, the protector of the Buddha and the five Vidyrajas or luminous Kings who are manifestations of the wrath of the Buddha against evil beings. Each Vidyaraja is depicted holding a weapon with an angry countenance because their goal was to use different methods to vanquish evil. The shrine is surrounded by paintings of important Shingon Monks like Nagabodhi and Amogavajra. Amogavajra was the teacher of Huiguo who in his turn taught the principles of Buddhism to Kukai.

The Koyasan Tokyo Betsuin was a center of learning for Shingon Priests. It is a well kept temple and a tranquil house of prayer amidst the bustle of the city.

2) Tozen-ji

The Tozen- ji is a Zen Buddhist temple located in Takanawa, Minato, Tokyo. It became well known in history because of the attack by a group of anti western Samurai on the British delegation who were residing in the main building in 1857.

The Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism established the Tozen Ji temple. The headquarters of the sect is in Kyoto. The first temple founded by Ryonan Zenji was in Akasaka and was relocated to its present location in 1636. It was called Kaijo Zennin or the Zen Forest above the Sea because it stands on the Taiko Road that leads to the sea.

The Tozen ji temple like most Tokyo Buddhist temples flourished during the Edo period. It was the family temple of powerful clans like the Date clan of Zendai, the Inaba clan of the Usuki domain and the Mori Clan of Saeki domain in the Bungo province, the Tamura clan of Ichinoseki and the Ikeda clan of the Omi province. The sword cuts and bullet marks of the attack on the British delegation by the Mito Han Samurai are still visible and a popular tourist attraction. The incident was recorded in the book, ‘The Capital of Tycoon’, by the first British diplomatic representative to Japan, Sir Rutherford Alcock.
Sight description based on wikipedia

3) Sengaku-ji

The Sengaku-ji is a small inconspicuous Buddhist temple in Tokyo that is rich in history and revered by the people as a symbol of Samurai loyalty and devotion. It is the site where 47 loyal Ronin or Samurai are buried. The Ronin avenged the unjust death of their Master and created history in the Edo era.

The Sengaku-ji was built in 1612. The graves of the Ronin are in a small cemetery near the temple. Their master, Asano Takuminokami of the Hyogo Prefecture unable to bear the insults heaped upon him attacked Kira Hozukenozuke at Edo castle during the reign of Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. As a result Asano was forced to commit Sepukku or ritual suicide and his loyal Samurai who had become Ronin considered his forced suicide, unjust. They planned their revenge and avenged their master’s death in 1702 by killing Kira and beheading him. They brought the head to Sengaku-ji where their master and his wife were buried and committed Seppuku. Their act is immortalized by the Kabuki play, Chushingura.

The Sengaku ji itself is a small wooden structure. A stone path leads to the cemetery where the Ronin, Asano, his wife, Oishi and Kira are buried. Each gravestone consists of a slab with their names inscribed and a stone basin where incense sticks are placed. There is a museum with a video showing the story in different languages for the benefit of foreign visitors and mannequins dressed as the 47 Ronin.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mita Hachiman Jinja

4) Mita Hachiman Jinja

Mita Hachiman Jinja is a Shinto shrine in Mita 3-7-16, Minato, Tokyo. As with any other Shinto shrine, Mita Hachiman Jinja is home to a traditional festival that usually takes place on August 15. On the grounds of the shrine, there is a Kaguraden (hall for Shinto music and dance), a Chōzuya (place for cleansing) and a Shamusho (shrine office). A staircase leads to its entrance.
There are two shrines in precincts: Gokō Inari Jinja and Mikage Jinja, with a total area of 2975.9 m².
Sight description based on wikipedia

5) Gyoran-ji

Though it is small, Gyoran-ji is a very attractive temple in Minato, Tokyo. Also called the Suigetuin Gyoran-ji, it is located on the mountainside of Gyoran zaka. The deity here is of Gyoran Kanzeon Bosatsu, depicted as a maiden with hair tied in a Chinese style. It is believed that Buddha appeared in a beautiful maiden’s figure to spread Buddhism and hence the representation.
Sight description based on wikipedia

6) Saikai-ji

The Saikai-ji is a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Pure Land Buddhist sect in Tokyo. It is located in 4-16-23 Mita, Minato Tokyo.

The Shukojan Chojuin Saikai-ji is popularly known by the locals as the Saikai-ji temple. It is dedicated to the Buddha in the form of Amitabha or the Buddha of infinite light. The temple was established by the Pure Land sect of Mahanaya Buddhism chiefly practiced today in Japan, East China, Taiwan and Vietnam. It was built on the site of an earlier temple established by the Takeshiba tradition. Like most Buddhist temples in Tokyo, the Saikai –ji flourished during the Edo period and commanded spectacular views of Edo bay. The main deity of the temple, Amitabha is called Amida Butsu or Amida Nyorai in Japanese. In this form, the Buddha is depicted sitting in meditation with or without a lotus in his hands. He is also depicted standing with his bare right hand extended outwards and flanked by his disciples, Avalokiteśvara and Mahastamapraptha on either side.

In 1621, the Saikai Temple housed the first French delegation to Japan and later became the French consulate and the residence of the consul general. A monument dedicated to the presence of the French within Saikai –ji is found on the grounds today.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Tokyo, Japan

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Best of Asakusa Walking Tour

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The Asakusa district in Tokyo is famous for the Senso-ji temple and is one of the few places in Tokyo that retains the old world charm. The temple markets, narrow streets, traditional shops and restaurants provide a glimpse of old Tokyo. It is also known as Tokyo's oldest geisha district. Take a walking tour and live the carnival atmosphere that pervades this place.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Kitanomaru Park Walking Tour

Kitanomaru Park Walking Tour

The Chiyoda district is steeped in history and is a reflection of the city’s culture, both past and present. Besides several prominent historical landmarks like the Imperial Palace, the place boasts of some of the best museums in the region. The Kitanomaru Park, part of the outer gardens of the Imperial Palace, houses the National Museum of Modern Art, Science Museum and the Nippon Bodokan. The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Tokyo without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Tokyo, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Ueno Park Walking Tour

Ueno Park Walking Tour

The Ueno Park, next to the Ueno station is a public park that offers visitors a large number of attractions. The area is home to many of the famous attractions in Tokyo. They are the Ueno Zoo, major museums like the Tokyo National Museum, The National Science Museum and The National Museum of Western Art. This walking tour would provide you an insight into old Tokyo. The museums here preserve the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Yasukuni Shrine Walking Tour

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Founded in 1869, this shinto shrine became known as "Yasukuni" only in 1879. Built to commemorate the soldiers who died for their country and emperor, the Shrine is located in Chiyoda District and covers the area of over 6 hectares. Within the Shrine there are numerous cultural and historic sites such as Japanese War Museum. Take this tour to learn more about Yasukuni.

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Travel Distance: 1.1 km
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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Tokyo for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Tokyo has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Tokyo and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Greater Tokyo Pass.

Among other conveniences, this pass allows bearer to explore Tokyo's metropolitan area with unlimited rides on railways of 12 private railway companies in Kanto area, as well as buses of 51 companies in metropolitan Tokyo and surrounding 3 prefectures for 3 days!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Tokyo hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Toshi Center Hotel, The Capitol Hotel Tokyu.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Tokyo, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Tokyo typically costs somewhere between US$40+ and US$120 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Tokyo from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs).

- Attend a traditional tea ceremony, an integral part of Japanese culture, in Tokyo to perceive its sophisticated philosophy and to soak up the atmosphere and cultural highlights of this fascinating city with the help of a local guide on a jam-packed day of sightseeing in Japanese capital.

- Another good chance to absorb Tokyo's atmosphere within a shortest possible time is a 4-hour morning sightseeing tour embracing all of the city’s top highlights including major historic sights, shopping districts and otherwise colorful areas. Ideal for those on a first-time or short visit to Tokyo.

- Forget skyscrapers and transgress into the old-time, slow-paced Tokyo on a 3.5-hour guided walk through Yanaka, the historic part of the city dating back to the the Edo period, replete with charming temples and cherry blossom trees.

- Pedal your way around Tokyo on a 3-hour E-assist bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights and some hidden spots that you otherwise wouldn't have found or reached by public transport, stopping from time to time at some of the sights for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions en route from a knowledgeable group leader.

- No visit to Tokyo is complete without savoring authentic Japanese cuisine. Embark on a night food tour of Tokyo to appreciate the city’s nighttime culinary scene by getting a generous dollop of delectable local treats from selected pubs and restaurants under the watchful guidance of a local expert.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Tokyo, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi, Nikko National Park, Kamakura and Tokyo Bay, or Hakone. For as little as circa US$100 to US$300 per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and Japan’s other most famous locations, explore the breathtaking countryside outside Tokyo including one of the best sightseeing spots in the country with lots of hot springs, visit the centuries-old center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship, see the Great Buddha statue, tour the ancient temples and scenic shrines, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Tokyo, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, bullet train (Shinkansen), boat, or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.