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 in the ancient times.  It's the late 19th century in the Meiji Era when shrines of Shinto and temples of Buddhism were separated by law.

  We can still find Shinto deities such as Shichifukujin 七福神-deities in some temples even now, but less shrines place Buddhist statues than temples with Shinto deities.

 

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

 

  The basics of Jinja-shrines are explained as follows, in fact many japanese only know a part of the differences from temples of Buddhism 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.

 

  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.

 

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