Are you going to visit Japan this winter? What’s the purpose of your visit? Knowing nothing – I could share a travel guide with you as part of side trip. And I am pleased to tell you that my purpose of writing this post is to delight you but nothing else. Hopefully, you got it?

There is a number of ways one can experience Japan’s utmost winter beauty. In general, when winter is in the air, most of the Japanese like heading towards ski and hot spring resorts.

They are surly the prime spots to visit. Meanwhile those who are nature fanatics like me would love to find a quiet space to admire the beauty of stunning snowy landscape in Japan.

Namo Amitabha Buddha! Photo Credit: Jeff Laitila at Flickr.

In winter, a visit to traditional Japanese Buddhist temples throughout the country would be a thrilling adventure. And seriously it is pretty amazing to witness the icy frigid scenes there.

Their grounds and the different impressive architectural style buildings get covered with a lot snow making the places absolutely gorgeous.

Although winter tends to be a hard time for all living beings, still I believe it is a lovely time to make a great trip to Japan.

However, today I have brought to you the most amazing Japanese Buddhist temples that offer you some of the most beautiful winter sceneries on earth. Let’s go and explore these hidden gems.

1) Kotokuin Temple in Kamakura

Kamakura Daibutsu. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

There is no such obligation that all the famous temples & shrines have to be situated in Kyoto and Nara. Kamakura itself is very profound for offering visitors some incredible Buddhist temples.

Let’s get to the Kotokuin Temple for enjoying a great winter atmosphere there. You know, no single trip to Kamakura is complete without visiting this temple grounds where the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Dibutsu) is situated. In fact, it is the symbol of Kamakura!

The statue is about 11.3 meters tall and weighs around 121 tons. It is a pure historic Japanese monument that is designated a National Treasure by the Japanese government.

You know the world is full of incredible places and I don’t dare to say it as one of the incredible places on earth that you must visit before you die.

It truly creates a unique and unforgettable travel experience. You can witness the four seasons beauty at the temple and you never ever go for an argument with someone that spring vistas are much wonderful than the winter vistas. Here the winter beauty tells you a very different story than it usually tells in spring or autumn.

2) Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto

This is how Kinkaku-ji looks like in winter. Photo Credit: Takeshi Kuboki at Flickr.

Besides being one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto, Kinkakuji (golden pavilion) is also a sacred place to be charmed by its surrounding natural beauty.

Once it was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu but after his death in 1408, it was converted into a Zen Buddhist temple.

You can walk around the pond including the gardens and enjoy the lovely winter scene out there. The reflection of the golden pavilion on the pond’s water is very striking. You may miss this whimsical view if you plan on visiting the temple on a snowy day.

The temple grounds get packed with a lot visitor each day. Though I don’t care when you decide to visit it either early in the morning or later a bit but I do care if you don’t visit it in winter.

It is really surprising to be there in winter and often said that it creates the most breathtaking winter vistas you would ever find in the land of the rising sun.

Don’t you believe me? Just take a look at the photograph shown above. Is not it pretty exciting? In fact, it is a true winter wonderland that guarantees you seeing one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring natural phenomena.

3) Yamadera Temple in Yamagata

I think no one wants to miss this sort of view, so climb up the mountains though the staircase. Photo Credit: Tetsuro Hashiguchi at Flickr.

Yamadera was founded in 860 by the priest called Jikaku Daishi or Ennin. This is one of the historic places you could visit in the Tohoku region.

Please bear in mind that the temple is highly recognized as one of the best places to see fall foliage in the country. Often winter beauty is overshadowed by the colorful autumn foliage but no more!

You should make yourself a way to get there in winter and explore the whole temple grounds that are filled with attractive buildings and Buddha statues.

Just hike and enjoy the scenic beauty it highlights. Forget the past and experience the present as it is amusing.

Yamadera – the mountain temple.

I have visited many temples across the country but Yamadera (mountain temple) was simply stunning and fat burning as well. Don’t you laugh out seeing the words “fat burning.” I am not kidding! Don’t you think that climbing the stone staircase of 1,015 steps could burn your stomach fat?

For a little bit of history, architectural beauty and witnessing Tohoku’s impressive winter nature you have got to come here and take the staircase to reach to the top of the temple’s grounds where the Risshakuji Temple is located.

In winter, it might be very difficult to hike all the way; hopefully you don’t lose your hope, walk carefully and make sure that you have some rest, yeah of course several times!

4) Daigo-ji Temple in Kyoto

Daigo-ji Temple’s Bentendo Hall in Winter, Kyoto. Photo Credit: U-ichiro Murakami at Flickr.

You don’t need to head into the wilderness of Hokkaido and experience everything nature has to offer there in the winter, instead find a place that is historically profound and relaxing to be part of.

Therefore, if you are serious about what I have just suggested then why don’t you head to Daigo-ji temple?

This historic temple was founded by a Buddhist monk Shobo (Rigen-daishi) in 874. It could offer you a lot thing to discover even in the winter season! In fact, this is a land of utmost bliss.

The Five-story pagoda and the Kondo (Golden Hall) of Daigo-ji have been designated as National Treasure of Japan. These two masterpieces are sure to be explored not only because of their important cultural assets but also to admire the surrounding winter beauty they offer.

In addition, there you can find two most amazing places I particularly like visiting when it snows, known as the Landscape Garden at Sanboin (former residence of the head priest) and Bentendo Hall.

To all visitors to Daigo-ji, I have an important message to deliver that it is a place of special scenic beauty and display of each season’s wonderful beauty would delight you the most.

5) Zenkoji Temple in Nagano

Zenkoji Temple in winter. Photo Credit: shibainu at Flickr.

Nagano is one of the heaviest snow falling areas in Japan. Keeping this in mind, you can guess something pretty awesome in Nagano to get you in the mood for New Year Holiday.

You might have heard of the Jigokudani Monkey Park before or have seen some photos of the snow monkeys elsewhere who like soaking their body in the natural hot springs bath.

A visit to this famous tourist spot is a must thing to do during winter in Nagano but you can make the trip even more enjoyable by visiting Zenkoji Temple.

The temple was founded by Yoshimitsu Honda in 642 AD. This is kind of a sacred place that speaks to your soul and rejuvenates your spirit.

The temple is notable for having the first ever Buddha statue that was brought to Japan in the 7th century from India. I am sorry to inform you that you can’t see the original statue; instead a copy of it is shown to the public every size years for a few weeks.

There are not many famous Buddhist pilgrimage sites you could visit in Japan and fortunately this is one of the few pilgrimage sites that still exist.

The temple grounds are packed with a lot treasures such as the Main Hall, Sanmon Gate, Niomon Gate, Zenkoji History Museum, The statues of the six Bodhisattvas, the temple’s Garden and so on.

There is nothing much to say about the winter vistas if offers you, just take a look at the photograph here and I think it is enough to describe how wonderful it is in winter. However, you will find some incredible winter scenery there.

That’s it! To get a better look at the temples and their unique treasures including the surrounding winter vistas you have to walk around and find the perfect observatories. 

The temple buildings, snowy grounds, gardens, ponds, trees, Buddha statues are not to be missed! Have fun and be peaceful.