Glossary (Phrase list) >> Shrine - Jinja

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Shrine - jinja 神社


  Before the explanation about shrines, let us introduce the first difference between shrines and temples and their common history.


  Shrine is the place where we pray for good things such as rich harvest, children's growth and avoidance of misfortune to god and goddess.


  Temple is the place where monkes train themselves and we learn the Buddha's teaching.

  We don't pray for things simply with expectation that they will be given because that teaching tells nothing about almighty deity.


= Ancient Shrine-temple =

  Shrines and temples had been mixed since Buddhism was introduced to Japan in 6C.

  For example, the current shrine of Turugaoka Hachimangu had been Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine-Temple which was managed by Buddhist priests until the late 19C.

  It is Meiji Era that shrines of Shinto and temples of Buddhism were separated by law.


  Now, most Japanese visit both shrines and temples regularly, and are buried in the grave at a temple when passing.

  As for temples, there are still some temples which also enshrine Shito deities such as Shichifukujin in their sub halls, while their main Buddhist statue is placed in each main building.


  The basics of temples of Buddhism are explained as follows, in fact many japanese only know a part of the differences from shrines of Shinto maybe because of the above mentioned history.


 Shrines enshrine deities. 


  It is said that Japanese religion begun before Christ, which is called Shinto 神道.  According to two old history-books called Kojiki 古事記 and Nihonshoki 日本書紀 both written in 8 C, Japanese ancients had already worshipped Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami (goddess of sun) and other deities.

  They looked on Nature like mountain, tree, rice field etc. as god or goddess.  Shrines have worshipped those deties.


  Members of the Imperial family are also enshrined as deities and the historical persons such as Gongoro Kagemasa at Goryo jinja 御霊神社 as well.


 * Some websites introduce "list of Japanese deties" in English.


  Later, various deities were introduced from overseas and came to be counted as Shinto's deities such as Benten deity and some other Shichifukujin gods and goddesses. 


  Shinto priests pary for rich harvest & fishing, avoidance of disaster, and so on to the deities.

  They also offer various events such as traditional music, dance performance, and Yabusame archery to deities.


 Common people visit to shrines to pray for good health, success, to be blessed with good children etc. to the deity of each wish.


No statue in shrines 

  Shinto originated and was rooted so naturally in Japan without any effort of the preachers.

  No statue has been made to show deities.  No writing as a bible was left either, while we can learn "what is Shinto" in the old history books.


 Read more references  


Related Glossary: "Temple - tera"


Related Glossary: "Shichifukujin deities"


Related Glossary: "Worship manners"















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