Shibuya, known for having the "world's busiest intersection" with its famous Scramble Crossing, is a popular destination for many people. It's also a hub for Japanese youth culture, including fashion and subculture, and has recently gained popularity as a setting for anime. I can say that Shibuya is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Tokyo.

Shibuya also has a unique aspect as an art and music district, with distinctive museums, live music venues, and clubs. Popular among both Japanese and foreign visitors, it's known as a city that never sleeps, with many restaurants open late into the night.

Additionally, it's undergoing a major redevelopment said to occur once in a century, making it a constantly changing city. I sometimes visit Shibuya, and I am always surprised because every time something has changed.

While Shibuya is evolving, there are still something that remain unchanged, such as the Hachiko statue, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. I, who love to visit shrines and temples will introduce them in Shibuya.

What's the difference between temples and shrines?

The representative religious facilities in Japan are temples and shrines. While they may seem similar as places to pray for peace, there are differences. Here's an overview of their characteristics:

Temples are associated with Buddhism. They are places to study and practice Buddhist teachings, founded by Buddha. They worship Buddha, and many have a principal object of worship that can be viewed as a statue. Many temples also conduct funerals and manage cemeteries.

On the other hand, shrines are associated with Shinto. Shinto is Japan's indigenous religion, based on the belief that gods dwell in all existences including nature, people, objects, and land. Shrines are where gods reside, but the enshrined deities cannot be seen from outside. Besides the priest who performs prayers, there may also be shrine maidens who assist.

Many Japanese visit both temples and shrines, typically going to temples for funerals and shrines for New Year's visits.

Rules for worshipping

There are also differences rules when visiting temples and shrines. At temples, after offering money, you put your hands together in front of your chest in prayer. You don't clap.

At shrines, the basic ritual is "two bows, two claps, one bow" (Bow twice, clap your hands twice, and then put your hands together and pray and bow again before you leave.), followed by putting your hands together in prayer.

As common etiquette for both temples and shrines, it's recommended to keep the following points in mind:

・Bow slightly when entering the premises. (At the main gate for temples, at the Torii gate for shrines)
・Wash your hands before praying. (This symbolizes purifying your heart and body)
・When leaving the premises, bow slightly again as a gesture of respect.

By the way, at temples, it's considered disrespectful to step on the threshold of the gate, and at shrines, to walk in the middle of the path, so be careful.

Recommended Shrines

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu Shrine is the largest shrine in Shibuya. It enshrines Emperor Meiji, who reigned over 100 years ago, and his consort. Most of the vast grounds are covered in forest, making it a refreshing place to visit when tired of the city air.

As it's a place that prays for peace in Japan and the world, you might feel a sense of tranquility. It's recommended to visit early in the morning when there are relatively few people. It takes about 30 minutes round trip to walk to the main shrine, so please wear comfortable clothing.

Although there's an entrance fee, the Jingu Garden, centered around a pond made from one of Tokyo's leading spring water sources, is also recommended for a stroll.

・Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
・Phone: 03-3379-5511
・Opening hours: Opens at sunrise, closes at sunset (times vary by season)
・Access: JR Harajuku Station, Meiji-jingumae Subway Station
・Official website:

Konno Hachimangu Shrine

Source: Official website

If you want to visit a shrine near Shibuya Station, Konno Hachimangu is recommended. Despite being just a 5-minute walk from the station, it offers a quiet and calm atmosphere.

Konno Hachimangu is a shrine built about 1000 years ago, enshrining a former emperor as its deity. The red color of the main shrine, an important cultural property of the area, uses Japanese lacquer. Lacquer is sap obtained from plants native to Japan and is applied using traditional Japanese crafting techniques.

Cherry trees are planted in the grounds, said to originate from the Konno cherry tree planted by Minamoto Yoritomo, a shogun from the Kamakura period about 800 years ago.

Cute-shaped fortune slips are also sold, so be sure to check out the amulet office as well.

・Address: 3-5-12 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
・Phone: 03-3407-1811
・Opening hours: -
・Access: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station
・Official website:

Hikawa Shrine

Hikawa Jinjya
Source: Official Facebook

Hikawa Shrine is said to be the oldest shrine in Shibuya. According to a book recording the shrine's origins written in 1605, its origins date back to 110 AD, before Japan took shape as a country.

The emperor at that time, wanting to extend his influence to the eastern regions, ordered his son, Prince Yamato Takeru, to conquer the East. The place where he prayed for the gods' power during the invasion of his army is the origin of Hikawa Shrine.

Yamato Takeru is very popular in Japanese mythology as a tragic prince who was feared by his father, the emperor, for being too strong, and was continuously ordered on expeditions, ultimately unable to return home.

The shrine accepts prayers for good relationships on the 15th of every month, so if you're interested, please visit.

・Address: 2-5-6 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
・Phone: 03-3407-1811
・Opening hours: -
・Access: 18-minute walk from Shibuya Station
・Official Instagram:
・Official Facebook:

Yoyogi Hachimangu Shrine

Source: Official website

Yoyogi Hachimangu is a shrine founded by a samurai in 1212.

The enshrined deity is a former emperor, also called Hachiman. Hachiman is a god often revered by samurai, believed to protect the country and ward off evil.

Yoyogi Hachimangu is still popular as a shrine for warding off bad luck and bringing good fortune.

You can refresh yourself by experiencing nature in the natural forest remaining on the grounds. Remains of a dwelling from the Jomon period, about 5000 years ago, have also been discovered, and a reconstructed dwelling is displayed outdoors.

Annual events are also vibrant, including bean-throwing and mochi-pounding, and children's New Year's calligraphy is sometimes displayed. You might get a glimpse of local life while visiting the shrine.

・Address: 5-1-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
・Phone: 03-3466-2012
・Opening hours: -
・Access: 5-minute walk from Yoyogi-Hachiman Station or Yoyogi-Koen Station
・Official website:

Recommended Temples

Korinin Temple

Source: Official Facebook

Korinin is a temple in Hiroo, Shibuya Ward. It's about a 5-minute walk from the station, but as there are many temples in the area, it's best to check a photo of the gate beforehand to avoid getting lost.

Passing through the distinctive semicircular main gate, you can see the tranquil temple grounds. The highlight of this temple is the tea room, designated as an important cultural asset of Shibuya. Although it may not always be open to the public, you can still feel its dignity just by looking at the exterior.

The temple is also famous for holding Zen meditation sessions at 7 am on weekdays and 5 pm on Sundays. It's not a class that teaches meditation from scratch, so beginners might be confused, but there are foreign participants, so if you're interested, why not give it a try?

・Address: 5-1-21 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
・Phone: -
・Opening hours: -
・Access: 5-minute walk from Hiroo Station
・Official Facebook:

Shouunji Temple

Source: Official website

Shouunji is a temple in Hiroo, Shibuya Ward, like the previously mentioned Korinin. It's one of the largest temples in Shibuya, and the Hiroo shopping street has developed around this temple.

You can feel the Zen temple's aesthetic, which finds beauty in simplicity and imperfection, throughout the temple. There's also a tea room near the Japanese garden at the back. It's a place where you can feel the beauty of the four seasons.

Shouunji also holds Zen meditation sessions. For a fee and with a reservation, you can participate and learn how to do Zen meditation. Events like copying sutras (using Japanese calligraphy to copy Buddhist sutra text) are also held, so if you're interested, it's worth inquiring about.

・Address: 5-1-21 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
・Phone: 03-3400-6526
・Opening hours: -
・Access: 5-minute walk from Hiroo Station
・Official website:

Chousenji Temple

Source: Official website

Chousenji is a temple located between Harajuku and Shibuya. It's a historic temple that can trace its origins back to 1063. Although it has experienced ups and downs, including fires and near abandonment, it has been rebuilt each time.

The principal object of worship is Buddha, believed to save and guide people who are troubled and suffering.

There's an interesting anecdote about the Goddess of Mercy enshrined in the Kannondo Hall. It's said that she helped a devout samurai in battle. At that time, the statue of the Goddess of Mercy was wet like sweaty human skin, hence it came to be called the "Human Skin" Goddess of Mercy.

It's a temple where you can feel tranquility even in the middle of the city, so please drop by if you're in the area.

・Address: 6-25-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
・Phone: 03-3407-6783
・Opening hours: -
・Access: 7-minute walk from Harajuku Station
・Official website:

Shibuya is a district where cutting-edge shops, culture, and people gather, but it also has historic shrines and temples throughout. Most temples and shrines are basically open for anyone to visit freely.

If you're tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, it might be good to stop by a shrine or temple. Some places, like Meiji Jingu Shrine, have large grounds with rich nature. You can refresh yourself surrounded by trees.

There are also temples in Shibuya that hold meditation sessions and events. Not only Japanese but also foreigners participate in these, so if you're interested, why not first inquire if they can accommodate English speakers?