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The 5 Hidden Temples in Tokyo You Need to Visit

by Matador Creators Mar 10, 2023

Tokyo is a city of contrasts, where the old and new stand side by side. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the city’s temples, which range from centuries-old structures that have withstood the test of time to modern buildings that incorporate traditional elements into a contemporary design. These are the hidden temples you might not find on a busy thoroughfare, but are worth taking the extra time to discover.

Zojo-ji Temple

Zojo-ji is a relatively hidden temple located in Tokyo’s Shiba Park district. The temple was founded in 1393 and has been through a number of incarnations over the centuries. The current building dates back to 1457, making it one of the oldest temples in Tokyo. Zojo-ji is known for its large cemetery, which includes a number of interesting tombstones and monuments. It’s one of the best temples in Tokyo for travelers interested in Japanese history and culture.

Kantai-ji Temple

Kantai-ji is located in Nakano, an area of Tokyo known for its vibrant arts scene. The temple was founded in 1624 and has undergone a number of renovations over the years. Kantai-ji is known for its beautiful garden, which is open to the public year-round. If you’re looking for a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city, Kantai-ji is definitely worth a visit.


This temple was founded in 1282 to honor those who lost their lives fighting against the Mongols during the attempted invasion of Japan. The temple complex is huge, covering nearly 33 acres, with several buildings and subtemples scattered throughout its grounds. In addition to its main hall and pagoda, Engaku-ji also has an impressive belltower that dates back to 1708; it’s one of only two surviving Edo Period bell towers in Japan.

Marishiten Tokudaiji Temple

Located in the heart of Tokyo, this temple is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning gardens. It was built in 1659 by Tokugawa Shogunte, and is dedicated to the deity Marishiten, who is the goddess of war. When you first arrive at the temple, you’ll be struck by its peaceful atmosphere. The temple grounds are surrounded by trees, making it feel like you’ve stepped into another world, and as you explore the grounds you’ll find several shrines and statues dedicated to Marishiten. The temple grounds are also home to a museum and a tea house.

Kotoku-in Temple

Kotoku-in is perhaps best known for its massive bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands 43 feet tall and weighs 93 tons. The statue was cast in 1252 and originally housed inside a wooden building that was destroyed by earthquakes and fires. Though not technically in Tokyo — Kotoku-in is located in Kamakura, about an hour south of Tokyo by train — it’s still worth a day-trip to visit. In addition to the Amida Buddha statue, Kotoku-in is also home to a beautiful garden with ponds and streams that are especially lovely in springtime when the Cherry blossoms are in bloom.

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