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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Shrine Architecture
A formation of rocks to which a kami is invited to descend for worship, and considered to be holy ground. Together with ishigami(stone-kami) and iwasaka, such forms of worship represent a type of rock-worshiping cult. As worship is repeated at the site, the rocks themselves may come to be treated in worship as divine stones. Archaeological sites throughout Japan point to such worship, and many are related to extant observances of ritual worship. Such sites may be referred to by a variety of suggestive vernacular expressions including "divine descent stone," "divine sitting stone," "divine appearance stone," and "kami's footprint stone," and the size and shape of the stones may likewise vary widely. Such sites appear to have been worshiped since the neolithic Jōmon period, as suggested by such finds as the togari-ishi ("pointed stones") of Nagano Prefecture, and the sake-ishi ("salmon stones") of northeastern Japan, but rites came to be increasingly observed beside rock formations in connection with the Yayoi-period sites of buried bronze bells (dōtaku), and particularly from the tumulus (burial mound, or kofun) period. In such locations, large caches of mirrors, stone jewels, weapons, and earthenware utensils have been found preserved where they were abandoned.

In connection with shrine rituals, sites of stones believed related to the shrine's kami (saijin) continue to be used today as "resting sites" (otabisho) for the kami's portable shrine (shin'yo) or for the presentation of food offerings to the kami. At shrines called iwakura jinja, rock formations may be worshiped within or behind the shrine's sanctuary (honden), suggesting that such rocks were the focus of worship even before the formal establishment of the shrine.

-Sugiyama Shigetsugu

Shizuoka Prefecture, 2007

©Katō Satomi

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