Tokyo's mega powerhouse of business and entertainment, Shinjuku City Ward is no stranger to things to do. The image of Japan's commercial strength, the city also happens to be home to scores of temples and shrines. From back street locations to major spiritual centres, here is a simple guide to some of the temples and shrines of Shinjuku and how to reach them.
Established by the time of the Edo period, Hanazono Shrine is dedicated to Japan's deity of success, Inari Okami. Along with a flea market, this large shrine also hosts many annual festivals including a New Years prayer night, the Reitaisai Festival in May with differing styles during odd & even years and the Tori-no-ichi Festival in November.
Direct access from Shinjuku Sanchome Station on the Marunouchi Line.
Cats have a special place here at Jisho-in Temple. Said to enshrine their spirit, this rather handsomely designed temple features a large statue of a welcoming cat holding a feudal period coin. Another highlight is the neko jizo, a cat in the classical guardian of children and travellers statue.
A 2-minute walk from Ochiai-minami-nagasaki Station on the Toei Oedo Line.
Home to the final resting place of the celebrated master ninja, Hattori Hanzo, is Sainen-ji Temple. Built as an act of respect for the son of the shogun whom Hattori couldn't protect, the temple features the ninja leader's battle helmet as well as what is left of a gift from Tokugawa Ieyasu - a giant 4m-long spear weighing in at over seven kilograms.
An 8-minute walk from Yotsuya Station on any of the JR Chuo, Marunouchi, Nanboku or JR Chuo lines.
Tenryu-ji Temple dates back to the late 16th century and is most famous for its toki no kane bell of time. Now classified as a Cultural Property of the city, the bell was used to tell the time as well as to remind patrons of the nearby 'pleasure quarters' that it was time to leave. Some rather unique tombstones as well as a romon-styled gate also feature.
A 5-minute walk from Shinjuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line.