Japan is rich in nature, surrounded by oceans, mountains, rivers, and changing seasons. The Japanese people have had a close relationship with nature since ancient times. They have been in awe of various deities called "Kami", such as Kami of the mountain, Kami of forests, Kami of winds, and Kami of rice, as spiritual beings that possess supernatural power beyond human understanding, such as blessings and threats to nature. So many different Kami are enshrined in Japan, that there is a term "Yaoyorozu no Kami," literally meaning "eight million deities".

Jingu, Venerable Shrines related to the Emperor and Imperial Family

Ise Jingu Shrine

Ise Jingu Shrine

Jingu, worship the ancestral deity, AmaterasuーOmikami. It is customary to pray at Geku first and then Naiku of two main shrines in that order. Why?
(写真提供:神宮司庁/ Jingushicho :Jingu Administration Office)

Atsuta Jingu Shrine

Atsuta Jingu Shrine_熱田神宮

Kusanagi-no-Trurugi Sword, one of the Imperial Regalia, is enshrined at Atsuta Jingu Shrine. Ancient Myth of Imperial Family gets you to know the story about how to acquire this sacred sword.

Usa Jingu Shrine

Usa Jingu Shrine (宇佐神宮本殿)

Usa Jingu, the head shrine of the approximately 460,000 Hachimangu shrines, became the national deity and the god of warlords. Why is this?

Iwashimizu Hachimangu

Iwashimizu Hachiman Jingu Shrine Main Shrine_石清水八幡神宮の本殿

Many emperors, court nobles, and Samurai visited the Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine. They prayed to the Hachiman Deity for the protection of the nation or for their victories on the battlefield.

Meiji Jingu Shrine

MeijiJingu Shrine Torii Gate_明治神宮

Surrounded by the metropolis of Tokyo, the Meiji Jingu Forest is a sanctuary for living creatures. More than 110,000 volunteers built the shrine to commemorate Emperor Meiji's virtues.

Yoshino Jingu Shrine

The spirit of Emperor Go-Daigo was enshrined. He overthrew the Kamakura Shogunate and started the Emperor's parental rule. But, it collapsed in 3 years and passed away at Mt.Yoshino.

Heian Jingu Shrine

The Daigokuden (outer hall of worship) of Heian Jingu Shrine_平安神宮大極殿

Heian Jingu was built in 1895 for the 1100th anniversary of the capital relocation from Nara to Kyoto, enshrining the spirits of the first and last emperor

Taisha, Shrines dedicated to the Ancient Deities

Izumo Taisha

Izumo's sunset at the Inasa-Hama is a sacred and beautiful shore welcoming deities from all over the nation. Izumo serves as the birthplace of many myths and legends.

Matsunoo Taisha

Matsuo Taisha MainShrine_松尾大社本殿

Matsunoo Taisha enshrines Japan's Best Sake Brewing Deity, Matsunoo-no-Kami. In November, when the art of sake brewing starts, Jou-U-sai Festival is held to pray for a safe and prosperous brewing process.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha is covered by over 5,000 vermillion torii gates and many fox statues to pray for a good harvest. Empress Genmei wished for the pacification of the world from natural disasters resides in its history. 

Suwa Taisha

SuwaTaisha_Honmiya_諏訪大社上社の前宮

Suwa province was the paradise during the Jomon era. People perceived deities, in all elements of nature, such as rocks, mountains, and forests. Because of this, Suwa Taisha has a pavilion for prayer, but not a main hall to enshrine diety.

World Heritage Sites

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Yomeimon Gate of Nikko Toshogu Shrine is the icon of the 1st Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu's spirit. Why was his spirit enshrined there? What did Ieyasu aim for?

Kamigamo & Shimogamo Shrines

Two cone-shaped sand mounds at Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社、円錐形の立砂)

Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines hold the breath of antiquity. The Aoi Matsuri Festival, starting in the 6th century, is a must-see.

Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社)

The goddess of victory smiled upon Samurai, Mori Motonari at the Itsukushima Battle. How could Motonari win with the blessing of his deity, though his forces were smaller than his enemy's?

Prominent Shrines, The Divine Might Spreading Across Japan

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

Tsrugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura_鶴岡八幡宮

Kamakura is the birthplace of the Samurai government, enshrining Hachiman deity of war. Japan's first samurai government started here in Kamakura, led by Minamoto Yoritomo.

Uesugi Shrine

Uesugi Kenshin Statue_馬上の上杉謙信像169

Kenshin was so strong among Warlords. He lost only twice out of 71 battles, making him a true "God of War." His belief was to restore the Muromachi Shogunate under the turmoil of the Warring State Period.

Matsuri welcomes "Kami"

Himorogi (神籬)
Himorogi

It is believed that the invisible Kami descends from the “Tokoyo” (eternal world), which is far beyond the sea, and their spirits dwell on a “Yorishiro” (an object such as mountains, huge rocks, trees, primitives, waterfalls, mirrors, swords, etc.). People welcome Kami, make offerings, recite “Norito” (Shinto prayers), and express gratitude to Kami. This is the origin of "Matsuri" (Shinto festival). The festival to welcome Kami through ancient ceremonies can still be seen in its original form in the "Miare" ritual ceremony of the Aoi Matsuri Festival in Kyoto. The "Kami" dwells on a huge "Himorogi" (temporary Yorishiro) consisting of five Cleyera Japonica trees decorated with "Shide" (paper streamers). The Miare ritual is performed by priests on May 12th every year in the dark with no lights on and is performed in solemnity. In a shrine, there is only a visible sacred object such as a mirror that is believed to be the dwelling place of Kami, and we offer prayers to Kami from the hall of worship. A "Mizuki" fence surrounds the main hall and is the sacred place where Kami's spirit dwells and even the priests are not allowed to enter.

Ise Jingu Shrine enshrines Amaterasu (the Sun deity and the mythical ancestor of the Imperial Family). It has been revered as a special shrine among the nearly 90,000 Shinto shrines in Japan since ancient times. Other shrines also enshrine diverse deities, including Kami of military fortune revered by Samurai at Hachimangu shrines. The head shrine is Usa Hachimangu Shrine in Oita prefecture of Kyushu, Kami of rice at  Inari shrines, whose head shrine is Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, and many more.