18 Must-See Shrines In Kyoto, Japan

shrines in kyoto
| 9 min read

The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is a breathtaking city on the island of Honshu. Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto is known for its gorgeous countryside landscape, stunning beaches, and marvelous landmarks, most especially Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and majestic palaces. Additionally, this place is home to magical gardens that enchant tourists from all over the country because of their incomparable beauty. If you are from outside the Land of the Rising Sun, Kyoto is also a destination for food lovers as it has exquisite Japanese restaurants that are ready to take you on a gastronomic adventure. More into sightseeing and culture? Here is a list of must-see shrines in Kyoto, Japan that you should not miss. Feel free to browse below.

1. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
Source: Photo by user Ray in Manila used under CC BY 2.0

Whether you are someone who practices Shintoism as religion or a regular Jane who’s always been fascinated by it, you are welcome to visit remarkable shrines on your holiday to Kyoto. On your first day, you might want to head over Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Fushimi-ku. This majestic structure sits on Inari Mountain’s base. It is dedicated to Inari Ōkami or the god of foxes, believed to bless people with fertility, agriculture, prosperity, and success. The main structure in Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine was constructed in the 14th century, but other parts of it were believed to have been built earlier than that. As you explore the shrine, you’ll see a number of fascinating fox sculptures that seem to guard the sacred place.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan

Website: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Traveler's tips

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"One of the most amazing monuments in Japan is Kyoto’s Fox Shrine - Fushimi Inari Shrine in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. The heritage site is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and the fox statues represent his many messengers.

It’s an uphill climb to the main shrine and it starts from tunnel of vermillion torii gates that had me gaping in awe. Visitors walk under thousands of these torii gates that lead through the wooded forest of Mount Inari.

We were a family of nine and it was a moderate two-hour hike to the summit. We were greeted by the cool breeze through the forest and babbling brooks along the way. Always a blessing to visit such beautiful places.

The shrine is open 24 hours and admission is free."

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2. Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo 01
Source: Photo by user Moja used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Set on the Shimogamo district of the city of Kyoto, Shimogamo Shrine is a marvelous Shinto shrine that serves as a holy place among locals and a popular attraction for tourists. It is formally called Kamo-mioya-jinja. On record, it is considered one of the oldest shrines in the whole country. During the Heian period, this iconic shrine was appointed as a chief shrine along with Kamigamo Shrine. Built during the reign of Emperor Kanmu, Shimogamo Shrine has been here since the 6th century.

Shimogamo Shrine

Address: Japan, 606-0807 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Shimogamo Izumikawacho

Website: Shimogamo Shrine

Opening hours: 6:30am - 5pm (daily)

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3. Yasaka Shrine/Gion Shrine

Yasaka Shrine/Gion Shrine
Source: Pixabay

Yasaka Shrine also goes by the name Gion Shrine. Both of these names are recognized in Japan. Set on the Gion District of the captivating city of Kyoto, Yasaka Shrine is a holy place that showcases a stunning gate, the main hall, several sub-structures, and a stage-like platform. The shrine is accentuated by lush sakura trees that add charm to it. Interestingly, Yasaka Shrine is also called a spiritual site for love, and most lovers who visit the country make sure to swing by this holy place. Not only that, but it serves as a venue for a lot of popular festivals in Japan, such as the Wakana Festival, White Jijutsu Festival, New Year Festival, Era Festival, Tancho Festival, and more.

Yasaka Shrine/Gion Shrine

Address: 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0073, Japan

Website: Yasaka Shrine/Gion Shrine

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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4. Heian Shrine

Heian Shrine, Kyoto
Source: Photo by user np&djjewell used under CC BY 2.0

While on a sightseeing tour in Kyoto, see to it that you get to swing by the captivating Heian Shrine. It is situated in Sakyō-ku, Kyoto, and boasts a vast land with a majestic structure of mostly orange-colored foundations and teal roofs. Its main hall is not an original design, as the first of its kind was built in the Heian period - hence, the name of the shrine. It is also believed that the first structure was bigger in size compared to this stunning replica. Heian Shrine is newer compared to the other Shinto shrines in Kyoto, as it was only built back in 1895.

Heian Shrine

Address: Okazaki Nishitennocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8341, Japan

Website: Heian Shrine

Opening hours: 6am - 5pm (daily)

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5. Kamigamo Shrine

Source: Photo by user Fg2 used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

If you’re still accepting suggestions for your upcoming adventure, you might want to add Kamigamo Shrine to your itinerary. This sacred place is located on the northern side of the country, proximate to the Kamo River. Kamigamo Shrine was once formally called Kamo-wakeikazuchi in the olden times. This shrine is characterized by its semi-open structures and its vast grounds with picturesque countryside views. It is a magical place to relax, meditate, and fall in love with nature.

Kamigamo Shrine

Address: 339 Kamigamo Motoyama, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8047, JapanDummy address

Website: Kamigamo Shrine

Opening hours: 5:30am - 5pm (daily)

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6. Yoshida Shrine

Yoshida-shrine saijyosyodaigengu
Source: Photo by user HikaruKinkakuji used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Make the most of your sightseeing escapade in Kyoto by checking out Yoshida Shrine in the Sakyō-ku district. Built by the Fujiwara clan in 859, this iconic landmark is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in the country. It is nestled on the mountainous side of the city, which offers guests scenic views and refreshing countryside breeze. Yoshida Shrine was originally one of the three additional shrines that were built during the Heian period, as requested by Emperor Murakami. Additionally, Yoshida Kanetomo, a renowned Shinto priest, was buried in these grounds.

Yoshida Shrine

Address: Yoshidakaguraokacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8311, Japan

Website: Yoshida Shrine

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7. Kifune Shrine

Yveltal in Kurama, Kyoto 98 (Kifune Shrine)
Source: Photo by user Kasadera used under CC BY 2.0

Another fascinating shrine that you have to see on your trip to Kyoto is Kifune Shrine. Just like Yoshida Shrine, Kifune Shrine nests on the Sakyō-ku district of the city. The shrine is built in the forested valley, with the marvelous mountains as its backdrop. As you explore the shrine, you’ll find remarkable steps that guide visitors to their main areas. These steps are also a popular picture-taking spot because of its aesthetics. Plus, they are also featured in Japanese movies and anime shows. At night, lanterns light the steps and other parts of Kifune Shrine to illuminate the place, and the place turns even more magical.

Kifune Shrine

Address: 180 Kuramakibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1112, Japan

Website: Kifune Shrine

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)

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8. Jishu Shrine

Jishu Shrine in Kiyomizudera Temple
Source: Photo by user そらみみ used under CC BY-SA 3.0

After a delightful visit to Kifune Shrine, you might want to take the tour to Jishu Shrine next. It is located in Higashiyama Ward. The place is popular for couples because according to Japanese culture, it is dedicated to the god of love and matchmaking. Solo wanderers also visit the shrine to pray that they find their match soon. It might be small in size compared to other shrines, but it is considered one of the most heavily trafficked Shinto sites in the city. Once you enter the place, look for the two love stones housed here, and there is where you can say your prayers.

Jishu Shrine

Address: 1 Chome-317 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan

Website: Jishu Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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9. Goou Jinja Shinto Shrine

Goou Jinja Shinto Shrine
Source: 古都の U助

Set on the Kamigyo-ku district of Kyoto, Goou Jinja Shinto Shrine is another fascinating sacred site that is worth a visit. Aside from its gorgeous nature views, tourists swing by this place to check out the fascinating animal statues that it houses, specifically the boar figures. This shrine was built during the Nara period as a dedication to Wake no Kiyomaro - an honorable Japanese official. If you have spare time in your hands, be sure to drop by Goou Jinja Shinto Shrine before flying out of Kyoto.

Goou Jinja Shinto Shrine

Address: Japan, 602-8011 Kyoto, Kamigyo Ward

Website: Goou Jinja Shinto Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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10. Shiramine Shrine

Shiramine Shrine
Source: Photo by user Yoshiaki-123 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Shiramine Shrine is built in honor of Emperor Sutoku and Emperor Junnin. Their kamis (holy spirits) reside in the shrine, and a big part of Shintoism as a religion is that the spirit is nestled in the shrines that are built for them. Annually, a noh performance (Japanese drama) is held in the shrine to pay homage to the late emperors. If you want to catch it live, visit during September. Aside from animal structures and sacred mini-shrines inside the holy ground, there is a delightful souvenir shop in Shiramine Shrine where you can purchase lovely goods you can take home with you.

Shiramine Shrine

Address: 261 Asukaicho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-0054, Japan

Website: Shiramine Shrine

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

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11. Miyake Hachimangu Shrine

Miyake Hachiman-gu honden
Source: Photo by user KENPEI used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you are a parent or someone who plans to build a family in the future, swing by Miyake Hachimagu Shrine when you visit Kyoto. It is a Shinto shrine where tourists and locals go to pray for their children, including prayers for safe delivery, health, success in their future, and their general well-being. Interestingly, the place is believed to extinguish “mushi” (insect spirits) in children, for they cause unwanted baby colic. Just like most shrines in Kyoto, Miyake Hachimangu Shrine has stunning nature views and a delightful, tranquil ambiance.

Miyake Hachimangu Shrine

Address: 22 Kamitakano Miyakecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-0035, Japan

Website: Miyake Hachimangu Shrine

Opening hours: 10am - 3pm (daily)

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12. Matsuo Taisha

Matsuo Taisha

One of the most breathtaking shrines in Kyoto for its landscapes and lush vegetation, Matsuo Taisha seems like a piece of heaven on earth. It looks like an image that is commonly printed on Japanese postcards. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see captivating green areas and stunning flora, and the shrine also houses a majestic lagoon that’s connected to the spring by the mountain, and it adds beauty and charm to the place. Aside from that, this spring is believed to be blessed with healing properties. During the olden times, Matsuo Taisha was called Matsuno'o Jinja.

Matsuo Taisha

Address: Japan, 616-0024 Kyoto, Nishikyo Ward, Arashiyama Miyamachi

Website: Matsuo Taisha

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13. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Your sightseeing tour in Kyoto will not be complete if you don’t visit the remarkable Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. It showcases several rustic structures inside its grounds and the main shrine that serves as its centerpiece. Aside from those, it has a treasure hall where you’ll find valuable sacred objects. Sakura trees accentuate the place, and they make a very beautiful background for your pictures, especially when they’re in season. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine features a plum garden exhibition that tourists who visit the site can marvel at.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Address: Bakurocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-8386, Japan

Website: Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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14. Hirano-jinja Shrine

Hirano-jinja shurine
Source: Photo by user Tomomarusan used under CC BY 2.5

A massive, magical garden filled with stunning trees and flowers and also a holy site, Hirano-jinja Shrine will take your breath away. It was established during the reign of Emperor Kammu. This was a favorite place among the prominent imperial family, and during the olden times, this shrine was appointed as one of the Kanpei-taisha shrines in Tokyo, a valuable and important shrine - more so than others. Hirano-jinja Shrine is home to several kamis, including Imaki-no-kami, Kudo-no-kami, Furuaki-no-kami, and Hime-no-kami.

Hirano-jinja Shrine

Address: 1 Hirano Miyamotocho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8322, Japan

Website: Hirano-jinja Shrine

Opening hours: 6am - 5pm (daily)

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15. Imamiya Shrine

Imamiya Shrine
Source: 島野 佳幸

You can’t end your Kyoto shrine-hopping adventure without seeing Imamiya Shrine. Set on the quaint district of Kita-ku in the city, Imamiya Shrine was once the place where people prayed to be saved from epidemics. Nowadays, locals and tourists still practice this tradition, but they pray for general good health. Built in the year 994, most of the structures in the shrine have undergone renovation, but their forms have never changed. Interestingly, Imamiya Shrine is less trafficked compare to other shrines on this list, making it an ideal destination for people who want a more relaxed and peaceful shrine visit.

Imamiya Shrine

Address: Japan, 603-8243 Kyoto, Kita Ward, Murasakino Imamiyacho, 21

Website: Imamiya Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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16. Nonomiya Shrine

Nonomiya Shrine
Source: 古都の U助

In English, Nonomiya Shrine means “shrine in the country”. It is nestled on the western side of Kyoto, in the Arashiyama district. With its proximity to the well-visited bamboo forest in the area, Nonomiya Shrine is an ideal destination after you explore the stunning forest and fall in love with nature. According to legends, imperial princesses who were unmarried once bathed in this iconic site to cleanse themselves and become purer. Built back in the Heian period, Nonomiya Shrine is one of the oldest in Kyoto. Once you visit the place, be sure to purchase a marriage talisman that is sold on-site. These precious trinkets are believed to guide your marriage or help you find your match.

Nonomiya Shrine

Address: 1 Saganomiyanomotocho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8393, Japan

Website: Nonomiya Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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17. Hiko Shrine

Saruta hiko shrine , 猿田彦神社 - panoramio (5)
Source: Photo by user z tanuki used under CC BY 3.0

Hiko Shrine is located in the lovely little town of Yawata in Kyoto. Built as a protection for the Imperial family, this shrine has been on the ground since 859. It is believed that because of Hiko Shrine’s popularity, the town of Yawata thrives. This small shrine is set on the foot of a hill, which provides majestic views for its guests. It houses fascinating artifacts, including an old aircraft engine that was used in World War II and votive plaques. Just like most shrines in the city, you can buy amulets in Hiko Shrine, as these precious items are a big part of Shintoism.

Hiko Shrine

Address: Japan, 614-8002 Kyoto, Yawata, Doi

Website: Hiko Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 4:30pm (daily)

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18. Iwashimizu Shrine

Iwashimizu hachimangu02s3200
Source: Photo by user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

Last but definitely not the least of shrines to visit in Kyoto is the marvelous Iwashimizu Shrine. Just like Hiko Shrine, it is located in the town of Yawata, and like Hiko Shrine, it also helps the town’s tourism. Iwashimize Shrine is one of the three main Hachiman-gu in Kyoto, and this one is believed to have been built for the general protection of the country. It showcases a cloister of minor structures that sprawl towards the main shrine. Its facade shows mostly tangerine-colored foundations and its roofs are of a gray color. Just like most shrines in Kyoto, Iwashimizu Shrine is filled with breathtaking sakura trees that are magical when they’re in full bloom.

Iwashimizu Shrine

Address: 30 Yawata, Kyoto 614-8588, Japan

Website: Iwashimizu Shrine

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

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Take a peek into Japan's culture and religion

Japan, also called the Land of the Rising Sun, is a breathtaking East Asian country that has influenced the world on a lot of things, including technology, cuisine, fashion, and more. The oldest religion that Japanese people practice is Shintoism, and this is why everywhere in the country, you’ll find majestic shrines. For tourists who want to learn more about Japan’s culture and who want to take a peek into their fascinating religion and lifestyle, use this list as your guide in planning an exciting Shrine visit itinerary.

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