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Shrine Architecture


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Komainu

  Literally, "Korean lions," paired figures of figurative lion tutelaries found at the entryway to shrine buildings, or alongside their torii or approachways. Most are made of stone, although examples can also be found made of bronze, iron, wood, or ceramics. The paired figures are typically male and...

Myōjin taisha

A shrine dedicated to a "famed deity" (myōjin) noted for its remarkable virtues. The term taisha refers to the fact that all such shrines were considered "great shrines" (taisha) under the ancient system of shrine rankings (shakaku). In the Kyoto-Osaka region, such shrines are particularly num...

Naijin, Gejin

The term naijin refers to the innermost sanctum of a shrine's main sanctuary (honden), the place where the divine symbol (shintai or mitamashiro) representing the presence of the kami is enshrined. In turn, the gejin or "nave" is that part of the main sanctuary outside the innermost sanctum. The tw...

Otabisho

Also called okariya or angū, a facility serving as the temporary destination or midway resting point of a kami's ritual procession (miyuki). On the occasion of such processions, the kami's symbol is taken from its ordinary residence or "seat" (shinza), transferred to a portable shrine (omikosh...

Saiden

  Literally, a "dedicated" or "tabooed" paddy field, namely, one specially reserved and dedicated to the production of sacred rice for use in offerings of grain and ritual sake (miki) to the kami of a shrine. While saiden are sometimes found at ordinary shrines as well, the term is particularly used ...

Saijō

  A general term for a ritual site, or any place for the enshrinement of a kami or the performance of ritual worship. At Shinto shrines, the facility may be called either a saijōin or saijōsho, and may be represented by either a permanent or temporary structure. In the case of the ritual Da...

Saikan

  A structure used by shrine priests (shinshoku) to retreat for secluded purification (kessai) prior to serving in divine ceremonies. At the Grand Shrines of Ise, separate halls exist for the purificatory retreats of the priests known as negi (suppliants or senior priests), uchindo ("privy ministers"...

Sessha, Massha

Categories of shrine ranking. At present, sessha and massha are not explicitly defined by official regulations, but the terms are widely used as general referents for shrines of smaller scale that exist as auxiliaries under the management of a larger main shrine. In most cases, the auxiliaries are ...

Shagō

The formal title by which a shrine is known. At present, seven shagō are used. The term Jingū is used alone as a proper name to refer only to the Grand Shrines of Ise, while other shrines may use jingū merely as one part of their names. Other shrine titles used include -Gū , -Ta...

Shamusho

"Shrine offices," the facilities where day-to-day shrine management is conducted. Such offices normally also include facilities for dispensing shinsatsu ("good-luck talismans"), and offices where worshipers may apply for the performance of special rituals of blessing. In most cases, the shamusho al...

Shinden

"Divine rice field," a rice paddy dedicated to providing the offerings used in shrine ceremonies, or for otherwise augmenting the various profits of a shrine. Such shrine fields were already provided for as grants from the nation under the centralized Ritsuryō (administrative and penal laws) e...

Shinmon

A decorative crest serving as the distinctive symbol or "logo" for a shrine, often found emblazoned or displayed at the entryway to the shrine. The crest may be selected on the basis of legendary connections to the kami enshrined (saijin), the geographical name of the area, the name of the shrine, ...

Shinsenden

The general term for a hall where food offerings are prepared. The actual name used to designate the building may differ depending on the shrine involved; some names include gokusho, shinkusho, kashiwadono, moridono, mikeden, and imibiya, and the composition and construction of the buildings may al...

Shintaizan

  A mountain dedicated as an object of worship by virtue of its being possessed by a kami. While the term is not of ancient provenance, the practice of such dedication is itself very old. The worship of mountains can be found throughout the world, and certain mountains have long been worshiped as hol...

Shōkonsha

  "Spirit-inviting-shrine." Prior to World War II, this term referred to shrines established for the purpose of appeasing the spirits of loyalist soldiers who died in the battles of the Meiji Restoration, and thus antecedents of shrines later called gokoku jinja. Both national and private shōkon...

Soreisha

  "Ancestral shrine," a smaller shrine established within the precincts of a local "clan deity" (ujigami) or "parish tutelary" (ubusuna), and dedicated to the worship of the ancestral spirits of shrine parishioners (ujiko). The term is also used to refer to a small household shrine (teinaisha) dedica...

Tamagaki

A fence enclosing a shrine, sacred area, or royal palace. It is believed that the ancient form of such a fence was a brushwood barrier using trees, but historically such fences have also utilized stone, wood, and in recent years, even concrete. Fences may be given a variety of descriptive names in ...

Teinaisha

  A small shrine located within a private residential compound. Also sometimes called a teinai shinshi. Some such shrines originated from the belief that a local kami already dwelled in the area before the building of the home, while others were especially dedicated to the "apportioned spirit" (bunre...

Temizuya

  A purification font to allow shrine visitors to rinse hands and mouth in symbolic purification. Sometimes read chōzuya. Usually located near the entrance of shrines, most of these facilities are found in the form of a simple roof supported by pillars over a font of running water, and supplied ...

Tongū

Also called karimiya, literally, a "temporary palace." Originally built as a temporary rest stop for an emperor, empress or crown prince during an outing, the term in time came to be applied as well to the temporary structures built to enshrine the spirit of a shrine during a sacred procession (miy...



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