The Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Osaka (住吉大社,
"Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine") is one of Japan's oldest
shrines. Founded in the 3rd century before the
introduction of Buddhism, it displays a unique style of
shrine architecture, called Sumiyoshi-zukuri that is free of
influence from the Asian mainland. Only two other shrine
architecture styles are also considered purely Japanese:
Shinmei-zukuri as seen at the Ise Shrines and Taisha-
zukuri as seen at Izumo Taisha.
Sumiyoshi-zukuri is characterized by straight roofs (as opposed to the curved roofs commonly built in later centuries) which are decorated by two sets of forked finials (chigi) and five horizontal billets (katsuogi). Furthermore, buildings constructed in Sumiyoshi-zukuri style have their entrance under the gable and are surrounded by a fence. Sumiyoshi shrines enshrine the deities who protect travelers, fishermen and sailors at sea. The shrines are therefore usually found close to harbors.