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5 Remarkable Religious Sights in Japan

Par: Cityseeker
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Japan is a land renowned for its cultural institutions and remnants of time which exemplify its history. No trip to the Land of the Rising Sun is complete without a temple and shrine-hopping spree across some of its most ethereal and spectacular religious sights, some of which astound visitors with unique features and quirky aspects sure to etch themselves in their memory.


Itsukushima-jinja

Much of Hiroshima was reconstructed following the 1945 atomic attacks; few buildings of historical and/or cultural interest remain intact. An exception, along with Mitaki and Fudoin Temples, is Itsukushima Shrine on nearby Miyajima island. Suspended over the blue waters of the Seto Inland Sea, Itsukushima Shrine is traditional Shinto Japan at its best, blending unique architecture with the natural environment to create an aesthetic and spiritual whole. Its vermilion torii gate is a national treasure, its "floating" form an ethereal beauty that welcomes visitors into a world of serenity. The existing shrine dates back to the mid-16th Century but was constructed upon a design conceived of in the 12th Century. Built upon a pier, the temple seems to be afloat on the waters of the Bay, adding to its wholesome appeal. It was established by Kiyomori and dedicated to the goddesses he believed he owed his success to. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to several national treasures, such as the Heike Nōkyō, a set of thirty-two scrolls, each completed by a member of Kiyomori's family.

Hatsukaichi, Japon
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Kiyomizu-dera

Datant d’il y a plus de 1 200 ans, le temple Kiyomizu-dera est un sanctuaire intemporel dédié à la religion bouddhiste et associé à l’école Hossō. Reconnu par l’UNESCO comme faisant partie des monuments historiques plus grands du site inscrit au patrimoine mondial de la vieille ville de Kyoto, ce complexe religieux abrite un riche patrimoine culturel et historique qui est indissociable de la ville de Kyoto. La Salle principale, avec ses hauts piliers et son toit en forme de pagode, est un magnifique exemple d’architecture de temple traditionnel et s’élève au-dessus de la colline verdoyante. Le sanctuaire Jishu-jinja situé à l’intérieur du temple est très populaire auprès des personnes cherchant l’amour qui viennent prier pour parvenir à trouver un partenaire adéquat. Signifiant « temple de l’eau pure », ce complexe abrite également une cascade vénérée pour ses eaux sacrées curatrices.

Kyoto, Japon
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Gōtokuji Temple

An array of endearing maneki-neko renditions greet visitors to this quiet temple located in Tokyo. Gōtokuji is hailed not only for its subtle architecture but also for its expansive collection of the calico cats traditionally believed to bring luck. Raising a beckoning paw as befitting their moniker, these delightful figures evoke vivid images of the legend associated with them, one which features a feudal lord and a cat which assisted him during a storm, thus immortalizing these creatures as harbingers of good fortune and prosperity.

Tokyo, Japon
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Tsuki Shrine

Located off the beaten path, this remarkable shrine is watched over by an army of bunnies, a clever nod to its name which literally translates into 'moon'. This pertains to many East Asian legends which allude to the presence of rabbits on the moon, thus making this religious site a fascinating one to visit. Apart from the presence of these creatures, Tsuki Shrine is also hailed for its striking architectural details, some of which deviate from the norm as made evident by the absence of traditional features such as a torii gate.

Saitama, Japon
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Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple

There is something inherently ethereal about Japanese shrines and temples come cherry blossom season, and the same is true of Yakuo-in Temple. Located on the inclines of Mount Takao, this splendid religious site and its expansive grounds are bathed in soulful nuances during Spring and magical hues come Autumn. Featuring intricate architectural details which accentuate its history, the temple is also hailed for its tengu statues. These figures pertain to supernatural beings commonly found in Japanese folklore, and the imposing renditions which guard Yakuo-in are vividly evocative of these mystic creatures.

Hachiōji, Japon
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