It is unavoidable that sightseeing spots get periodically affected by minor and sometimes major renovation and repair works, especially wooden historical structures, such as temples, shrines and castles. Furthermore, some local governments in Japan are continuing efforts to restore historical structures which have been lost in the past. As a result, a traveler may occasionally come across a sightseeing spot which is closed for renewal or affected by construction works.
In an effort to help avoiding bad surprises due to constructions and renovations, we are maintaining the following list of Japanese sightseeing spots which are currently affected by major renovation or construction works. Note however, that this list is not complete and that there might be other major constructions going on at spots not listed below. If you know of one, please let us know.
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2007 to March 2024
Toshogu Shrine is being renovated in stages from 2007 until March 2024. But because only a couple of the shrine's many buildings are affected at any time, the impact on a visit is relatively small and Toshogu remains worth a visit. Renovation on the centrally placed Yomeimon Gate was completed in March 2017.
2008 to March 2020
Kiyomizudera's main hall is undergoing renovations from February 2017 to March 2020, during which the hall is covered up by scaffolding, but visitors are able to enter it. As of January 2020, the dismantling of the scaffolding has started, and the main hall is gradually becoming visible again.
Enryakuji Temple (Hieizan)
2016 to 2026
Enryakuji's main hall is undergoing renovations from 2016 for about ten years. During the renovations, the main hall is covered by scaffolding, but it remains possible to enter the hall.
Floating Torii Gate of Itsukushima Shrine
From June 2019 for at least around one year
Renovation works on Miyajima's famous floating torii gate started in June 2019. During the renovation works, the torii gate is covered up under a partially transparent scaffolding. Furthermore, a bridge is being built on the left side of the gate (when viewed from the shrine) to aid the renovation works. A date for the completion of the renovation works has not been set yet, but the works are expected to take at least one year.
December 2, 2019 to March 16, 2020
The Kintaikyo Bridge is undergoing renovation works from December 2, 2019 until March 16, 2020. During this time, it is still possible to cross the bridge; however, it is partially covered up.
Dogo Onsen Honkan
January 2019 to 2026
In January 2019, renovation works started on the Dogo Onsen Honkan during which the bath house is closed partially over the period of seven years. During the first of two phases of the renovation works, two small baths on the first floor remain open to visitors (one for each gender), while the rest of the building, including the rest areas on the second and third floors, gets closed. Some parts of the building will be covered up by scaffolding; however, some of the building's sides (the front and north sides during the first phase of the renovations) will intentionally be kept free of scaffolding to reduce the impact on tourism.
Until spring 2021
Kumamoto Castle suffered serious damage in the earthquakes of April 2016. Many roof tiles fell, foundations were damaged, walls crumbled and entire structures collapsed. A walkway to the main keep opened to the public on October 5, 2019 and allows for close up views of the keep, but it is open only on Sundays, national holidays and selected Saturdays. On other days, the castle's inner grounds cannot be entered, but looked at from the outside. From April 29, 2020, an elevated walkway will open to the public, allowing for views of the inner castle grounds on all days of the week. The interior of the castle's main keep is scheduled to be reopened to the public in spring 2021, while the rest of the grounds are expected to require about 20 years to be fully repaired.