Japan Tokyo Yanaka

Tennoji Temple

Historic Buddhist temple in Tokyo with a rich heritage

Photo of Tennoji Temple, Japan (tennou-ji temple by kolshica)

Tennoji Temple is a historical site in Yanaka, Tokyo, with its origins believed to date back to the 13th century. As a center of Tendai Buddhist worship, it offers insight into Japan’s religious and cultural past.

About Tennoji Temple

Tennoji Temple, officially known as Gokoku-zan Sonju-in Tennoji, is located in the Yanaka area of Taito-ku, Tokyo. The temple’s origins are traditionally attributed to the 13th century, although the exact nature of its founding and early connections to specific Buddhist sects may vary according to different historical accounts.

The temple experienced significant changes over time, including a conversion from one Buddhist sect to another. In 1698, it was forced to transition from its original affiliation to the Tendai sect due to the political climate under the Edo shogunate, which regulated religious practices and institutions. The temple then began venerating Bishamonten as its main deity.

The history of Tennoji includes support from notable figures, though the specifics of their involvement may not be thoroughly documented. It is known to have been a place of prayer for the shogunal family.

Tennoji has faced numerous challenges throughout its history. A notable incident was the destruction of its five-story pagoda by arson in 1957. Despite such events, the temple has continued to serve the local community. It also survived a fire during the tumultuous times of the Meiji Restoration, when the Shogitai, a group of samurai loyal to the shogunate, were active.

Nowadays, Tennoji is recognized for housing several Tokyo-designated cultural properties, including artworks and religious statues. The temple is also part of the Yanaka Seven Gods of Fortune pilgrimage, highlighting its ongoing religious importance. Architectural features such as the sōmon (general gate), and the artifacts within, contribute to understanding Tennoji’s historical significance. The temple’s proximity to Yanaka Cemetery Park, a location with graves of notable Meiji era figures and cherry blossoms, adds to its serene environment. Yanaka’s preserved traditional atmosphere, exemplified by areas like Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street, provides a backdrop that enriches the temple’s setting in Tokyo.

Getting There the easiest way to reach Tennoji Temple

JY 07

 JR Yamanote Line + 1 more

 about 5 minute walk (200m)

Around Tennoji Temple

Tennoji Temple

Buddhist Temple in Tokyo

open 24 hours
closed Irregularly


天王寺, 東京

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Updated 13 Mar 2024 • Report an error

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