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Shinto shrine

Japanese shrine of the Shinto religion / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A Shinto shrine (神社, jinja, archaic: shinsha, meaning: "place of the god(s)")[1] is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") one or more kami, the deities of the Shinto religion.[2]

Two women praying in front of a shrine

The honden[note 1] (本殿, meaning: "main hall") is where a shrine's patron kami is/are enshrined.[2][3] The honden may be absent in cases where a shrine stands on or near a sacred mountain, tree, or other object which can be worshipped directly or in cases where a shrine possesses either an altar-like structure, called a himorogi, or an object believed to be capable of attracting spirits, called a yorishiro, which can also serve as direct bonds to a kami.[4] There may be a haiden (拝殿, meaning: "hall of worship") and other structures as well.

Although only one word ("shrine") is used in English, in Japanese, Shinto shrines may carry any one of many different, non-equivalent names like gongen, -gū, jinja, jingū, mori, myōjin, -sha, taisha, ubusuna or yashiro. Miniature shrines (hokora) can occasionally be found on roadsides. Large shrines sometimes have on their precincts miniature shrines, sessha (摂社) or massha (末社).[note 2] Mikoshi, the palanquins which are carried on poles during festivals (matsuri), also enshrine kami and are therefore considered shrines.

In 927 CE, the Engi-shiki (延喜式, literally: "Procedures of the Engi Era") was promulgated. This work listed all of the 2,861 Shinto shrines existing at the time, and the 3,131 official-recognized and enshrined kami.[5] In 1972, the Agency for Cultural Affairs placed the number of shrines at 79,467, mostly affiliated with the Association of Shinto Shrines (神社本庁).[6] Some shrines, such as the Yasukuni Shrine, are totally independent of any outside authority.[7] The number of Shinto shrines in Japan is estimated to be around 100,000.[8]

Since ancient times, the Shake (社家) families dominated Shinto shrines through hereditary positions, and at some shrines the hereditary succession continues to present day.

The Unicode character representing a Shinto shrine (for example, on maps) is U+26E9 .