A Shinto shrine is a structure whose main purpose is to house one or more Shinto kami (spirit).
A shrine's most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects rather than for
Although "shrine" is the only word used in English, Shinto shrines have a variety of many different names used in Japanese. In particular, gongen, -gū, jinja, jingū, mori, myōjin, -sha, taisha, and ubusuna oryashiro are the nonequivalent names for Shinto shrine.
A Shinto shrine is usually characterized by the presence of a honden, the most sacred building at a Shinto shrine, where the kami is enshrined. The honden may however be completely absent. In this case, when a shrine stands on a sacred mountain to which it is dedicated and is worshiped directly. The honden may also be oblivious when there are nearby altar-like structures called himorogi. These are objects believed to be capable of attracting spirits called yorishiro that can serve as a direct bond to a kami.
There may also be a haiden and other structures as well. Occasionally, miniature shrines (hokora) can be found on roadsides. Large shrines sometimes have miniature shrines (sessha or massha) on their precincts. The portable shrines (mikoshi), carried on poles during festivals (matsuri), enshrine kami and are therefore true shrines.
There is an estimate of around 100,000 Shinto shrines in Japan.
Ise Shrine has been the most prominent shrine in Japan since 1871. The Ise Grand Shrine in Mie prefecture is, along with Izumo-taisha, the most
exemplar and historically significant shrine in Japan.
The two enshrine a kami who plays fundamental roles in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, two texts of great importance to Shinto. Ise Shrine is the Imperial Household's family shrine because of its kami, the goddess Amaterasu, is an ancestor of the Emperor.
However, Ise Shrine is dedicated specifically to the emperor. Even in the past, his mother, wife, and grandmother needed his permission to worship there. Its traditional foundation goes back to 4 BC, but historians believe it was founded around the 3rd to 5th century.
The Shinto shrine Izumo Taisha (Shimane prefecture) is so ancient that no record of the year of establishment is known. The shrine is central in a series of popular sagas and myths.
It enshrines a kami called Ōkuninushi, translating to “Great Land Master”. It is believed that he shaped Japan before it was populated by Amaterasu's offspring, the Emperor's ancestors.
Due to its physical remoteness, Izumo has been eclipsed in fame by other sites. Although, there is still a widespread belief that all Japanese gods meet there in October. For this reason, it is also known as Month Without Gods (Kannazuki), while at Izumo Taisha alone it is referred as Month With Gods (Kamiarizuki).
The head shrine of the largest shrine network in Japan is Fushimi Inari Taisha, which has more than 32,000 members (about a third of the total). Inari Okami worship started in the 8th century and has continued ever since, expanding to the rest of the country. Located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, the shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari. It also includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines.
Together with Munakata Taisha, Itsukushima Shrine is at the head of the Munakata shrine network. Dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, the shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There is a Shinto shrine in the city of Nara called Kasuga Taisha in Nara Prefecture, Japan. It was established in 768 A.D. and has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. It is the shrine of the Fujiwara family. The interior is popular for its many bronze lanterns, as well as the many stone lanterns that lead up the shrine. The architectural style Kasuga-zukuri gets its name from Kasuga Taisha's honden.
Yasukuni shrine, in Tokyo, is dedicated to the soldiers and others who died fighting for the Emperor of Japan.
Tohoku | Yamagata | Dewa Sanzan
Yudono-San is the most sacred mountain out of the three in the Dewa Sanzan located in the Yamagata Prefecture.
Tohoku | Yamagata | Dewa Sanzan
Gas-san has the tallest peak out of the three in the Dewa Sanzan and is known for its beautiful mountain view.
Kanto | Tochigi | Nikko
Toshogu Shrine is the place where the remains of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, are enshrined.
Kanto | Tokyo | Western Tokyo
Meiji Jingu, also known as Meiji Shrine, was built in 1920 to enshrine the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
Chubu | Aichi | Nagoya
Atsuta Shrine houses the sacred sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi, one of the imperial regalia.
Kansai | Mie | Ise
Ise Grand Shrine
Ise Grand Shrine is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan and is rebuilt every twenty years while using traditional techniques.
Kansai | Kyoto | Kyoto City
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located in the southern part of Kyoto and is one of the important Shinto shrines in the city.
Kansai | Nara | Nara City
Kasuga Taisha Shrine
Kasuga Taisha Shrine is the shrine for the Fujiwara clan. The interior is famous for the many stone and bronze lamps, along with Kasuga-zukuri architectural building style.
Kansai | Wakayama | Kumano
Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine
Kumano is located in the Kii Peninsula and spans into the Wakayama and Mie Prefectures. The Hongu, Nachi and Hayatama Taisha are the three famed shrines of the area.
Kansai | Nara | Yoshino
Yoshimizu Shrine is a Shinto Shrine located on Yoshino Mountain located in Nara, Japan.
Chugoku | Shimane | Izumo
Izumo Grand Shrine
Izumo Grand Shrine is located in Shimane Prefecture, west of the city Matsue. It is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan.
Chugoku | Hiroshima | Miyajima Island
The Itsukushima Shrine is best known for its floating torii gate, which is built in the sea.
Kyushu | Fukuoka | Dazaifu
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
A Shinto Shrine dedicated to Sugawara Michizane who was associated to Tenjin, the god of education
Kyushu | Miyazaki | Takachiho
The venue for Yokagura performances most famous for the story of Amaterasu hiding in a cave causing worldwide darkness from Japanese Mythology.
Kyushu | Nagasaki | Nagasaki
Nagasaki Confucius Shrine
The most famous Confucius Shrine located in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan constructed by the Chinese residents of the area.