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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Shrine Architecture
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 numerous in the provinces of Yamashiro and Yamato, but they are also frequently found in the provinces of Ōmi, Mutsu, Tajima, and Kii. Of the so-called "shrines within the Engishiki" (shikinaisha, those shrines listed in the Jinmyōchō found in books 9 and 10 of Engishiki), 310 kami at 224 shrines are listed as myōjin taisha. On the other hand, in the section on extraordinary festivals in book 3 of Engishiki, 285 kami at 203 shrines are considered myōjinsai or "festivals to famed deities." While most of the shrines in these two listings overlap, 21 shrines in the Engishiki count are not on the myōjinsai list. Further, even in the case of those noted on both lists, some difference is seen in the names of the shrines. A number of theories have been suggested to explain the difference in numbers of locations (shrines) and enshrined kami. According to one theory, the number of shrines listed among myōjin taisha gradually increased, but the listings for "extraordinary festivals" do not accurately reflect the increase. Another theory suggests that the jinmyōcho and extraordinary festivals were under separate supervisory jurisdictions possessing differing standards for accurate reporting. See also myōjin.

-Inoue Nobutaka
List of Myōjin taisha

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