5. Nezu Shrine (Tokyo)
While the music in this video veers into the melodramatic, the footage is undoubtedly sublime. Passing through ranks of red torii gates, it features shots that really make you feel as if you were transported into this ancient shrine just northeast of Todai-Mae Station in Tokyo. Said to have been established over 1,900 years ago, several of the gates and worship halls, as well as its lattice-windowed wall, have been designated Important Cultural Properties.
Don't be confused by the video's title; "Nedu-jinja" is an alternate Romanization of the name of this shrine. This is another work from Darwinfish105, who's given us a number of remarkable scenes to drool over.
4. Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto)
This video from m24instudio offers some fisheye, POV-style footage of walking through the base of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. It's rare to see someone stop and show the hall at the base of the mountain rather than running straight up to the ranks upon ranks of red torii gates, and this is a great video for anyone who's always wanted to visit a Japanese shrine but can't afford the plane ticket!
3. Zozo-ji Temple (Tokyo)
Yuhei Kodaka's sublimely shot video transports the viewer to a typical day at Zozo-ji Temple, located right below Tokyo Tower. The temple is a calm oasis in the bustle of central Tokyo, and this video captures that spirit perfectly. It also features some arresting shots of the Unborn Children's Garden, a row of stone statues that were placed to represent the children that were unborn as a result of a miscarriage, abortion, or stillbirth. Designated an Important Cultural Property, the extensive temple grounds house the graves of six generations of Tokugawa shogun.
2. The Life of a Yamabushi (Mie & Wakayama)
This video from Mathieu Le Lay is a much more immersive glance at the life of an ascetic yamabushi monk in the Kumano area of the Kii Peninsula in Mie and Wakayama Prefectures. Featuring some absolutely breathtaking shots, this video truly transports the viewer into the mountains of Kumano and the fascinating life of the monks who live there, including an arresting shot of the three-story pagoda of Seiganto-ji Temple before Nachi Waterfall. As captivating as the UNESCO World Heritage Site where it was filmed, this video must be watched from beginning to end.
1. A Journey Between Tradition & Modernity (Kyoto, Nara & Tokyo)
This video from AmnesiArt is actually a holistic look at ancient and modern Japan, featuring many breathtaking shots of Japanese shrines and temples through a popular swath of the country. It does a good job of capturing the way many of the nation's traditional buildings are constructed right next to equally stunning modern structures.
The narrative isn't so much sequential as impressionistic, designed to be evocative rather than informational. You'll see Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Nijo Castle and the rock garden at Ryoan-ji juxtaposed against the modern glass of Kyoto Station, snippets of deer interspersed with images of Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji in Nara, and internal shots of restaurants cut between views of Tokyo Bay, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Mori Tower in Roppongi, Shibuya Scramble, and Shinjuku's Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. And if the internet has taught us anything, it's that you can't go wrong by putting a few cats in your video, just in case.