Five Instagrammable Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples in the Kansai Region

Five Instagrammable Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples in the Kansai Region

14 Nov 2023

The KANSAI Guide

One of the real pleasures of traveling is capturing photographs of scenery that cannot be found elsewhere. From the many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in the Kansai Region, this article focuses on a few that you are sure to want to photograph to post on social media.

1. Nageire Hall at Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple (Tottori Prefecture)—The Most Dangerous Hall to Worship At

Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple is a Buddhist temple at an altitude of about 900m on Mt. Mitoku, about 2.5 hours from Tottori Sand Dunes by train and bus. Nageire Hall stands on a sheer cliff on the grounds of this temple. Mt. Mitoku is the training ground for Shugendo, a syncretic religion that is an amalgamation of Buddhism and ancient Japanese beliefs based on mountain worship. There is a challenging path over tree roots and rocks to the hall, but it makes the beauty of the hall all the more spectacular. There are also panoramic views of the surrounding mountains en route to the hall. When visiting, be sure to wear hiking shoes or sneakers (avoiding ones with spikes or metal that may damage the path) with good tread.

【Facility name】 Nageire Hall at Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple
【Opening hours】 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Registration for hiking to Nageire Hall 8:00 am - 3:00 pm *No hiking during the winter and inclement weather
【Days Closed】 None
【Price】 Entry to Nageire Hall: Adult: 1,200 JPY, Child: 600 JPY
Official Homepage (Japanese only)
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 1010 Mitoku, Misasa-cho, Tohaku-gun, Tottori
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

2. The Daruma-Packed Katsuo-ji Temple (Osaka Prefecture)

Katsuo-ji in northern Osaka is located about an hour and a half from Shin-Osaka Station by train and bus. It is a Buddhist temple where you can pray for a variety of wins, such as in exams, business, employment and sports. There are countless "daruma" offerings on the grounds, making for wonderful pictures to post on social media. Daruma are dolls characterized by their bright red color and jet black eyebrows and beard. They are roundish in shape and will right themselves up when pushed over, thus making them a talisman for successful business and good luck. It is a tradition to color in the right eye (left eye facing you) when making a wish and the left eye (right eye facing you) when the wish comes true.

【Facility name】 Katsuo-ji Temple
【Opening hours】 Weekdays 8:00 am - 5:00 pm; to 5:30 pm on Saturday; to 6:00 pm on Sunday and National Holidays *Last entry 15 minutes before closing
【Days Closed】 None
【Price】 Entrance fee: Adult: 400 JPY, Elementary and Junior High School Student: 300 JPY, Child under school age: 100 JPY, free for children 2 years old or younger
Official Homepage
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 Katsuo-ji, Minoo-shi, Osaka
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

3. Break Off Bad Relationships at Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine (Kyoto Prefecture)

Photo Credit: 663highland/Wikimedia Commons

Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine is located about 10 minutes by foot from Gion-Shijo Station in Kyoto. It is in the Higashiyama area, which is one of Kyoto's most famous tourist areas, and is known as the "enkiri" shrine (Shinto shrine for severing bad relationships). The most imposing presence on the shrine grounds is the "enkiri-enmusubi-ishi," a large stone covered in slips of paper. There is a tunnel-like hole in the stone and it is said that if you pass through it from the "front" holding a slip of paper on which you have written your wish, you will be able to sever bad relationships, and if you pass through it from the "back", you will be blessed with good relationships. It can help not only with human relationships, but also your ties with habits, such as alcohol and cigarettes, and with illnesses, so be sure to make a wish.

【Facility name】 Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine
【Opening hours】 Open for worship all day. Amulet office hours 9:00 am - 5:30p pm
【Days Closed】 None
【URL】 Official Homepage
【Address】 70 Higashioji Matsubara-agaru Shimobenten-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

4. Namba Yasaka Shrine (Osaka Prefecture)—Where a Huge Shishi Greets You

Namba Yasaka Shrine is in one of Osaka's most famous commercial districts and is just 6 minutes by foot from Namba Station. It is known for the Shishiden, a stunning building in the shape of an enormous lion's head. The lion, with its bared teeth, wide eyes and terrifying expression, is awe-inspiring. It is said that it invites victory with its wide open mouth and secures the win by swallowing up any ill will. Its nose houses speakers and the eyes turn into lights. It is lit up at the New Year, for the Setsubun holiday (at the end of winter) and during the summer festival (usually July 13 and 14), so be sure to time your visit if you want to take especially compelling pictures.

【Facility name】 Namba Yasaka Shrine
【Opening hours】 None
【URL】 Official Homepage (Japanese only)
【Address】 2-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

5. Meet a Rare Reclining Buddha at Tsubosaka-dera Temple (Nara Prefecture)

This is a Buddhist temple on the side of a mountain overseeing the Nara basin, about 2 hours by train and bus from Kintetsu Kyoto station. It is packed with things to see, including the Raido Hall that is an Important Cultural Property, a three-tiered pagoda and numerous stone statues from ancient India. Foremost among them is the Statue of Reclining Buddha from Ancient India. This 8m statue of Buddha lying down is a rare representation in Japan of Buddha entering nirvana. In the background, there is a huge 20m tall standings tatue of Kannon, also from ancient India. The temple is also known for its seasonal scenery, with approximately 300 cherry trees blossoming in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall.

【Facility name】 Tsubosaka-dera Temple
【Opening hours】 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
【Days Closed】 None
【Price】 Entry fee: Adult (18 and older): 600 JPY, Child: 100 JPY, free for children age 5 and younger
【URL】 Official Homepage (Japanese only)
【Address】 3 Tsubosaka, Takatori-cho, Takaichi-gun, Nara
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

How was it? Hopefully this article helps you find wonderful memories in your travels that you can capture on camera!

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