Glossary (Phrase list) >> Temple & Shrine

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Tera 寺, temple and Jinja 神社, shrine

  Let us introduce the difference between shrines and temples.  We hope that this page would be a help for the visitors to enjoy your shrine and temple tours.

  The followings describe generally about Japan, it's not limited to the Kamakura's case.


Japanese letters seen on signboards, maps etc.

:     Tera or Dera means temple.

神社: Jinja means shrine. ( Gu or Sha also mean shrine.)


  Basic and general things  


  All differences between shrines and temples including worship procedures are so detail and few Japanese know all of them actually.  But the next issues are basic and we want the overseas visitors to keep them in mind because most of the native worshippers follow them.


1.  Worship at shrines is done making the sound, while it's done quietly at temples. It's only at shrines to clap hands.


2.  It's the right act to ring the bell by swinging the rope before a pray at shrines.  No approval is required.

  But to strike the hanging bell at any temple is not allowed unless it's permitted for the visitors.  Actually, few temples allow us to ring the big hanging bell except for some special cases such as Joya-no-Kane in the new years holidays.


* Above points are the part of the worship procedures.  They are described more in another glossary of "Worship manners".


3. Both in a shrine and temple

  Photography is basically allowed outside, but prohibited in the building at most of the shrines and temples.

  Taking pictures of the gate, garden, and external view of buildings is usually allowed, but photograpy of the statues and items displayed inside the house is not.


  Even outside, if you see 撮影禁止 poster, it means "No Photography".


For example;

1. We may take pictures of The Great Buddha statue in the open air at Kotoku-in.

2. Photography is all prohibited anywhere at Gokuraku-ji.  撮影禁止-sign stands at the entrance.

( In case of Visit Kamakura Stores, we had taken the necessary procedures and was given approval to take pictures and to post them on line.)


 Read more references  



Related Page: "Worship manners 参拝 "








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