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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Shrine Architecture
Honden
Also called shōden, the "sanctuary," or central structure of a shrine prepared as the seat (shinza) of the deity forming the object of worship (saijin). The honden is considered the most sacred space within the shrine, and its sacred doors (mitobira) are normally kept closed and locked; the opening and closing of the doors represents in itself an important part of the shrine's ritual.

Honden can be found in numerous different architectural styles, but based on the relationship with other architectural structures they can be divided broadly in to those which are physically linked to the hall of worship (haiden) or hall of offerings (heiden), and those which stand independently. The interior of the honden is composed of an "inner sanctuary" (naijin) that represents the actual "kami seat" (shinza), and an "outer sanctuary" (gejin) or "nave." At most shrines, the honden is considered the locus of the kami and the focus of worship, but certain shrines do not possess honden since they have sacred mountains (shintaizan) and other sacred areas or sacred trees (himorogi) that serve as a more direct focus of worship.

-Mori Mizue
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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