Japanese shrines

Japan has many shrines and temples throughout the country. It is said that there are more than 80.000 shrines and temples in Japan.

For example, western part of main island called “Kyoto” prefecture alone got more than 2,000 shrines and temples.

If you are into history, especially Japanese history, kyoto is the very good place to visit.

What is shrine?

Shrines are buildings dedicated to the dieties of Shinto,the unique religion of Japan.

Many people visits shrines on New Year’s Day (very very very crowded), and some visit shrine for the birth of their child, some visits shrine for shichi go san cerebration.

Shich go san is the cerebration usually fall during the month of November to cerebrate 7 year old girls, 3 years old boys and girls, 5 years old boys for healthy growth.

Kids usually dress up in kimono,visit shrine.

What do you see in shrine?

In shrine building, you find the following items

** Torii; placed at the entrance to indicate a sacred zone. They come in various colors and they are made of various materials. Most torii, are made of wood, and many are painted orange and black.

** Koma inu; It is a pair of lion like animals named “Un”, and ” A” (talisman),and they are often found on each side of a shrine’s entrance.

The statue “Un” always mouth closed and “A” always mouth open and facing each other.

** Chozuya; for purifying hands and mouths

** Kagura den; it is where sacred dance and music are performed

** Saisen bako; Offertory box.Visitor throw usually 10 yen coin (10 cents worth coin ) into the box as a way to expressing their gratitude for the wish came true or to make a wish.

** Haiden; Buildings for worshiping deities

** Ema; a votive offering board with a horse drawing,dedicated to the deities. Shrine visitors write their wishes on these wooden plates and then leave them at the shrine in the hope that their wishes come true. Most people wish for good health, success in business, passing entrance exams, love or wealth.

** Omikuji; An oracle drawn to determine one’s fortune.When a person chose a stick, he/she is given a paper on which, you can find the fortune is written.

By tying the piece of paper around a tree’s branch, good fortune will come true or bad fortune can be averted.

** Omamori; amulet. A paper charm of a god used for protection or making a wish

** Hamaya; Arrows given by shrines to visitors on New Year’s day,wishing them a good luck

Who do you see at the shrine?

At the shrine, you see Kan nushi; the chief shinto priest who perform the rituals at shrine, and Miko; Unmarried woman in the service of deities

Kan nushi would wear hat called Eboshi; brimless headgear. He would also be holdinf shaku,which is Oblong wooden mace. Then he would be wearing a pair of shoes called asagutsu; black wooden clogs.

For Miko, she would be wearing while robe and Hibakama; Red hakama

Hakama is kind of like a skirt but it is sewn like a pants.Hakama are tied at the waist and fall approximately to the ankles

Type of shrines..

There are various types of shrines in Japan.

Japan guide website got good explanation on each categories.

  • Imperial Shrines
    These are the shrines which were directly funded and administered by the government during the era of State shinto.    They include many of Shinto’s most important shrines such as the Ise Shrines, Izumo Shrine and Atsuta Shrine, and a number of shrines newly built during the Meiji Period, such as Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine and Kyoto’s Heian Shrine.  Imperial shrines can be recognized by the imperial family’s chrysanthemum crest and by the fact that they are often called “jingu” rather than “jinja”.
  • Inari Shrines
    Inari Shrines are dedicated to Inari, the kami of rice. They can be recognized by fox statues, as the fox is considered the messenger of Inari. There are thousands of Inari Shrines across Japan, among which Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine is most famous.
  • Hachiman Shrines
    Hachiman Shrines are dedicated to Hachiman, the kami of war, which used to be particularly popular among the leading military clans of the past. Of Japan’s thousands of Hachiman Shrines, the most famous is probably Kamakura’s Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.
  • Tenjin Shrines
    Tenjin Shrines are dedicated to the kami of Sugawara Michizane, a Heian Period scholar and politician. They are particularly popular among students preparing for entrance exams. Tenjin Shrines can be recognized by ox statues and plum trees, Michizane’s favorite trees. The first and most famous Tenjin Shrine is Dazaifu Tenmangu near Fukuoka.
  • Sengen Shrines
    Sengen Shrines are dedicated to Princess Konohanasakuya, the Shinto deity of Mount Fuji. More than one thousand Sengen Shrines exist across Japan, with the head shrines standing at the foot and the summit of Mount Fuji itself.
  • Shrines dedicated to the founders of powerful clans
    Some powerful clans in Japanese history established and dedicated shrines to the their clans’ founders. The most famous example are the several dozens of Toshogu Shrines dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, including the famous Toshogu Shrine at Nikko. Another example is Kanazawa’s Oyama Shrine which is dedicated to Maeda Toshiie, the founder of the powerful, local Maeda clan.
  • Local Shrines
    Many shrines are dedicated to local kami without association to other shrines.

 If you plan to visit shrine, you may want to read about etiquette at the shrine.

Japan travel website got a good page explaining what to do at the shrine in Japan.It might help you learn more about our shrine.

Dec 21, 2016 | 1 | Japan

One Response to “Japanese shrines”

  1. Johnnie Maleszewski Says:

    I found this very interesting and loved reading about it all, thanks for sharing!

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