The Japanese shrine or the Shinto Shrine is said to be an indigenous shrine or historic monument that is present in the Shinto religion of the Japanese culture.
At least 80000 Shinto Shrines are present in the public places currently in the country of Japan.
The majority of the shrines do not include the private shrines which are either on the personal property or inside the homes of the people. They were built in the honour of the individual Kami, which is the essence of the spirit.
These Shinto shrines can be either made in a complex way by decorating surfaces or also in a very simple and unassuming. All these shrines contain certain elements that are special in the religion of Japanese history.
In this article we have covered interest of some of the most important and special Japanese shrines which are existing today all around the world:
How did the Japanese Shrine Originate?
The Japanese Shrine originated in the Yayoi period. These were built for worshiping the ancestors or the Kami.
The council of the Yayoi sought the advice from the Kami and the other ancestors and finally were able to develop the instruments like the Yorishiro for evoking them.
The meaning of the word Yorishiro is to approach the substitute and had the duty of conceiving and attracting the Kami for providing and giving them physical space.
Thus, finally providing human beings the opportunity for interacting with the Kami.
The various sections of the village council were held in the shrine spots which are present in the mountains and near the forest, near lush green trees or other natural objects like the waterfall.
All these served as the Yorishiro. The initial Japanese shrines were in the form of the hut-like structure and were considered to be the dedicated places for worship.
The story of the origin of the Japanese shrines can also be found in the term Hokura, which is also known as the deity storehouse. This is also considered to be one of the first words which were written on a shrine.
Impact of Buddhism on Japanese Shrines
When Buddhism arrived in the country of Japan, it had introduced the concept of permanent Shrine around the 6th century.
A large number of Buddhist temples were built just adjacent to the existing shrines present in the country in the form of mixed complexes known as Jingu-Ji.
It is also present in the historical texts that when these shrines were in introductory phase, the word Miya came into the use which was an indication that its use by that time had become the important structures of the present world.
Once the permanent shrines were built, then the Shinto religion revealed a very strong tendency for registering the architectural change. This particular tendency manifested itself in the so-called Shikinen sengu-sai.
The custom of this particular shrine style has been replicated in various countries till the present date.
These particular shrines were not completely immune to the change and have shown various influences over the past many years.
The culture of Buddhism was imported into the Japanese tradition and has altered the style of the Shinto architecture and also the vocabulary.
The elements such as stone Lantern or the Lion dogs are all borrowed from the culture of Buddhism.
Important Japanese Shrines
Thousands of shrines are present in the Japanese tradition. These shrines are considered to be a symbol of respect and the continuation of the tradition of Japan.
The most important Japanese shrines are listed below along with their significance and description:
1. Sanno Shrine
The Sanno Shrine is considered to be one of the most famous Shrine because of its special characteristic of one-legged construction. It is also famous for withstanding the blast which happened in 1945 in Nagasaki.
At the time of the bombing, the gate of this particular shrine was only 800 meters away from the center of the blast. This one-legged shrine still stands in the city of Nagasaki in Japan.
2. The Yasukuni Shrine
The Yasukuni Shrine is not the oldest but is considered to be the most impressive Shrine present in the Japanese culture.
This particular Shrine is considered to be the most fascinating by the local people and the tourists because of the controversy which is associated with it from the past many years.
This particular shrine was founded by the emperor Meiji in the year 1869.
This Japanese Shrine is formally dedicated to the millions of men, children, and women and also the various animals who died for the emperor of Japan since its inception.
This list of the people and the animals who died include thousands of names of class A, class B, and class C criminals of world war 2 and also the people who committed many crimes against humanity.
The list also includes the names of the people who were possibly kidnapped and also participated in ill-doing like the rape of Nanking.
3. The Fushimi Inari Shrine
The Fushimi Inari Shrine was built-in in the years 711 and is considered to be the most famous Shrine in the Japanese culture.
This is because of its thousand tori gates which are present along with a network of trails behind the main structure of the Shrine.
Each gate of this particular Shrine was donated by a business.
The Inari is considered to be the Kami which is associated with this particular shrine and also widely recognized as the Kami of the businesses and merchants and also the Kami of the rice, which is made in Japan.
The fox which is present in this particular Shrine recognized in the form of the helper or the Messenger of Inari. The shrine also features the illustrations of the foxes and its statues throughout the grounds.
This particular Shrine is located at the base of the mountain which is also known as Inari. It is frequently used by adventure lovers and the hikers for getting the experience and exploring the trails.
4. Izumo Taisha Shrine
Izumo Taisha Shrine is a very old shrine present in the Japanese culture of shrines but there is no record of the official date on which it was constructed.
This particular Shrine is considered to be one of the most ancient and important shrines of Japanese culture.
It has got its name from the architectural style using which it is built and is also dedicated to the person who created the land of Japan and later became famous by the name of Kami of Marriage, Kami Okuninushi.
According to the beliefs present in the Shinto religion, every Kami which belongs from or around the parts of Japan is supposed to meet at this particular Shrine between the 10th and the 17th day of the 10th lunar month, which usually falls in November every year.
As a part of the purification process, this particular Shrine is visited by a lot of tourists who usually clap twice.
But people believe that they have to clap 4 times in front of this particular Shrine, two times for themselves and two times for their partners.
5. Itsukushima Shrine
Itsukushima Shrine is located in the bay of Hiroshima and is very famous and recognized for its special floating tori gate.
It was built somewhere around 593 for honoring the daughters of the storm God and also the sun goddess.
This particular Shrine was constructed on the water rather than on the land because they do not want to damage the Kami of the island of Itsukushima.
6. Sengen Jinja Shrine
Sengen Jinja Shrine is considered to be the official shrine of the housing of the Kami of mount Fuji which is considered to be Japan’s tallest mountain and also one of the most famous mountains in the world because of its scenic beauty and height.
The Shrine which is present here is one of the 3 collective networks which are present at the base of the mountain.
The name Sengen, which is given to this particular Shrine dates back to the animistic ancestry of the Shinto language of Japan which relates to the mountain for worshiping the volcanoes.
The Shrine is also said to have been built in the early 700 and was later destroyed and then was rebuilt in 1700. The most recent innovation of this particular Shrine happened somewhere in the year 2009.
7. Tsubaki Grand Shrine
Tsubaki Grand Shrine was constructed recently in the year 1987 and is considered to be very significant in the history of the Shinto shrines. This is because of its location which is present in Granite falls Washington.
This particular Shrine is the only public Shinto Shrine that is present in mainland of the United States while some other shrines are located in Hawaii.
It is considered to be one of the oldest shrines in the existence of the Japanese tradition.
This particular Shrine is also home to several Kami including the Sartahiko-no-Okami. It is also a Shrine too many other famous deities like the sun goddess and the dash of entertainment and the arts.
8. Toshogu Shrine
Toshogu Shrine is similar to the shrine of Itsukushima and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This particular sign is different from the others because of the presence of the remains and the unusual occurrence considering the old and strong Shinto beliefs along with the surrounding purity.
This particular Shrine is also home to various physical remains of the first Shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Leyasu.
He is also the Kami of the Shrine which was constructed simply but later was expended 20 years after its construction to the ordinate structure that standstill the present day.
9. Meiji Jingu Shrine
Meiji Jingu Shrine was completed in the year 1920 and is dedicated to the Kami Emperor Meiji who died in the year 1912 and also in the honor of his wife Empress Shoken.
This particular emperor is believed to be the representation of the Meiji Restoration in Japan which was considered to be a period when the country was rapidly changing and becoming an imperial power in the modern world.
A huge misconception is related to this particular Shrine that the emperor was buried in this particular building which is not true. The Shinto tradition does not allow anybody to be buried in or near the Shrine.
This shrine was destroyed during World War II but was again reconstructed in the year 1958 and is now a tourist place for millions of visitors each year, out of which 3 million visitors visited in the first three days of the Year.
10. Ise Grand Shrine
Ise Grand Shrine was built in the honor of the Japanese Sun goddess Amaterasu. This particular shrine is widely considered to be one of the best Japanese Shrine and is also considered to be a sacred place in Japan.
It is made up of a network of 125 shrines and it is a tourist place for more than 6 million visitors and other pilgrims each year.
According to various legends, this particular shrine is home to the sacred mirror which was given to the first emperor of Japan by the sun goddess herself for establishing him in the form of a descendant from the deities and therefore the rightful leader of the country.
The Shrine was destroyed and then reconstructed every 20 years but the whole Complex has existed since the starting of the third century.
Significance of the Japanese Shrines
The Shinto shrines are considered to be a symbol of safekeeping the sacred objects and not for worship. But later, it also became a symbol of worship for all devotees which are present in the Japanese tradition.
With the increase in their popularity, the people started creating miniature shrines in their personal property and houses. These are also considered to be a symbol of prosperity and good luck.
More than 100000 shrines are present in Japan and this figure does not include the ones which are privately owned by a family or group of individual.
The Japanese shrines are a part of the history and tradition of Japan from the past many centuries. These shrines are considered to be religious and holy structures which contain various sacred elements.
More than 1 lakh shrines are present in the country of Japan. This number does not include the private and publicly-owned shrines.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How many shrines are present in Japan?
More than 1 lakh shrines are present in the country of Japan and this number does not include the privately and the publicly owned shrines present in the houses and the public places in Japan.
When did the shrines originate in Japan?
The shrines originated somewhere around the 1st century in the country of Japan and since have become an integral part of the tradition and history of Japan.
Are the shrines even present outside the country of Japan?
Yes, the shrines are present even outside the country Japan like the Tsubaki Grand Shrine present in the Washington.