Narita-San Temple

NARITA, Japan — The Narita-san Temple is a 1000-year-old Shingon Buddhist temple complex in the heart of Narita, about 40 miles east of Tokyo.

Photo of Painted decorations of the Three Storied Pagoda at Shinjouji Temple

The Narita-san Temple is a 1000-year-old Shingon Buddhist temple complex in the heart of Narita, about 40 miles east of Tokyo. Also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), it isn’t a single building but rather a large complex of several buildings spread across scenic parkland on top of a hill. While the temple was founded in 940, most of the buildings have been added since the early-1700s.

The main deity to whom the temple is dedicated is Fudomyoo, or the Unmovable Wisdom King. Surrounded by flames, holding a sword and rope, and unequivocally blue, his ascribed skill set is both impressive and useful: remover of anxieties, banisher of evil, and savior from oppression. An image of Fudomyoo occupies pride of place in the center of the Great Pagoda of Peace, a 58m pagoda towering on top of the mountain.

The ornately and brightly painted Three Storied Pagoda, off to the side of the main courtyard of the Great Main Hall was originally built in 1712 and is decorated with painted dragons and sculptures of the 16 disciples of Buddha, or Juorokurakan. On the first floor’s inner sanctum, which you can’t access–at least, not normally–is Gochi-Nyorai (Five Tathagas) who is believed to be endowed with the five wisdoms of Buddha.

As impressive as the buildings are–and they are impressive, as well as being especially well cared for–the grounds are appropriately beautiful, especially in the fall. Fiery reds and oranges of the autumn leaves color the landscape quite spectacularly. And tranquil water features, including a small lake and running streams add to the sense of serenity. The combination makes it easy to forget that you’re in one of the most densely populated regions of the world and within a few miles of a major international airport.

Photos of Narita-San Temple

Photo of Fudo Myoo and shrine at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – Image of Fudō myōō (Fudo myoo or the Unmovable Wisdom King) forms the heart of the shrine in the Daitou, or Great Pagoda. Built in 1984, the Daitou stands over 58 meters tall on the top of Narita Mountain. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Brightly painted dragon heads at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Three Storied Pagoda at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – The Three Storied Pagoda, standing 25 meters tall, was originally built in 1712. It is ornately decorated with brightly painted rafters, carved dragons, and sculptures of 16 RAKAN or Buddha’s disciples how attained Nirvana. On the first floor’s inner sanctum is GOCHI-NYORAI (Five Tathagas) who is believed to be endowed with the five wisdoms of Buddha. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Japanese calligraphy at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – Walls filled with Japanese calligraphy behind the Great Main Hall. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Narita street with shops
NARITA, Japan – Omotesando Street at Narita, Japan, near the Naritasan temple complex. The street is lined with shops and restaurants. Naritasan is a popular tourist attraction for people who have a long layover at the nearby Narita International Airport, which serves Tokyo.
Photo of Rooves of Pagodas at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Fall leaves at Shinshouji, Narita
NARITA, Japan – Some beautiful red Japanese maple leaves in the fall in the gardens surrounding the temple complex.
Photo of Great Temple and courtyard at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – The Daitou, or Great Temple, built in 1984, stands over 58 meters tall on the top of Narita Mountain. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Grounds at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – Part of the grounds of Shinshouji. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.. The complex includes extensive landscaped gardens.
Photo of Main Entrance to Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – A pillar and gatehouse at the entrance of Narita-san temple. Also known as known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Shrine in Great Pagoda at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – Image of Fudō myōō (Fudo myoo or the Unmovable Wisdom King) forms the heart of the shrine in the Daitou, or Great Pagoda. Built in 1984, the Daitou stands over 58 meters tall on the top of Narita Mountain. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Daitou at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – The Daitou, or Great Temple, built in 1984, stands over 58 meters tall on the top of Narita Mountain. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Lion statue at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – An ornately carved statue of a lion. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Pagoda and lake at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.. The complex includes extensive landscaped gardens.
Photo of Stepped roof of a tribute marker in the grounds of Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Buddhist altar at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – A small shrine at the rear of the Great Main Hall. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Great Main Hall at Shinshoji
NARITA, Japan – The Great Main Hall and courtyard. In the center of frame are incense sticks burning, with smoke rising. The Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple), is Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.
Photo of Bucket Offerings at Narita-san Buddhist Temple
NARITA, Japan – Bucket offerings at the Narita-san temple, also known as Shinsho-Ji (New Victory Temple). It is a Shingon Buddhist temple complex, was first established 940 in the Japanese city of Narita, east of Tokyo.

What To Know Before You Go

If you have more than a few hours layover at Narita Airport during the day, the temple makes for a great excursion. From Terminal 1, it’s about 10 minutes by train (2 stops). If you’re arriving by an international flight, you’ll have to clear immigration and customs on the way out and immigration and security on the way back in. Allow at least 30 minutes for exit and entry (but it can be quicker). You don’t need to pick up your checked luggage. Be sure to check whether you need a visa to enter Japan. There are luggage storage services in the terminal (outside the security checkpoint).

About Narita-San Temple

  • Location: Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple is located in Narita City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of central Tokyo.
  • Founded in 940 AD: The temple was founded by the Buddhist priest Kanchō Daisōjō in 940 AD, making it over a thousand years old.
  • Shingon Buddhism: Narita-san is a prominent temple of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism, which was introduced to Japan by Kobo Daishi (Kukai) in the early 9th century.
  • Worship of Fudo Myoo: The temple is dedicated to Fudo Myoo (Acala), one of the Five Wisdom Kings in Japanese Buddhism, who is known for his fierce appearance and ability to protect people from evil influences.
  • Main Hall: The main hall, or the “Kondo,” is the central building of Narita-san Temple, housing a revered statue of Fudo Myoo, and it is a designated Important Cultural Property of Japan.
  • Three-story Pagoda: The temple complex also features a three-story pagoda, built in 1712, which is a designated Important Cultural Property and showcases traditional Japanese architecture.
  • Narita-san Park: The temple is surrounded by the beautiful Narita-san Park, a 16.5-hectare (40.8-acre) garden with walking paths, ponds, and seasonal flowers, such as cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves.
  • Goma Fire Ritual: Narita-san Temple is famous for its Goma ritual, a fire ceremony performed daily, where wooden sticks inscribed with prayers and wishes are burned as offerings to Fudo Myoo.
  • Omotesando Street: The approach to the temple, known as Omotesando Street, is a bustling 800-meter (0.5-mile) shopping street lined with traditional shops, restaurants, and souvenir stores.
  • Annual Events: The temple hosts several annual events, such as Setsubun in February, when beans are thrown to ward off evil spirits, and the Gion Festival in July, featuring traditional Japanese music and dance performances.
  • Proximity to Narita Airport: Narita-san Temple is conveniently located near Narita International Airport, making it a popular destination for both Japanese and international travelers with layovers or brief stays in the area.
David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »