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Beautiful Sacred Shinto Shrines of Japan (Video)

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Shinto shrines are at the heart of the Shinto belief system. Sacred spaces in which Emperors once strolled and elaborate ceremonies once took place, they are revered by millions today, remaining testaments to Japan's oldest known religion.

Ise Grand Shrinededicated to the goddess Amaterasu-?mikami, is located in the city of Ise in Mie Prefecture, Japan.  Officially known simply as “Jing? Ise Jing?,” it is not a single shrine, but a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Neiku and Gek?.

Said to house the Sacred Mirror, the mythical Japanese mirror of honesty and wisdom believed to reflect everything truly is, Ise Grand Shrine is one of Shinto’s holiest and most important sites.

Access to both Neiku and Gek? is strictly limited, with the common public allowed to see little more than the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind four tall wooden fences. The high priest or priestess of Ise Shrine, who must come from the Japanese Imperial family, is responsible for watching over the shrine.

 

Tsubaki Grand Shrine is located in Suzuka Mie Prefecture, Japan. The principal shrine of the Shinto deity Sarutahiko-no-?kami, it is one of Japan's oldest shrines. Kami diety Sarutahiko no ?kami’s wife, Ame-no-Uzume, is also enshrined at the shrine. The shrine has been in the care of the Yamamoto family for 97 generations, a highly prestigious and honorable position for a Japanese family to hold.

Isonokami Shrine, also known as Isonokami-futsu-no-mitama-jinja, (jinja, another term for“shrine,”) is located in the hills of Tenri in Nara Prefecture, at the northern end of the Yamanobe no Michi, the oldest road in Japan. Believed to have been built in the 7th year of Emperor Sujin's reign (the 10th Emperor of Japan) in the year 4 CE, it is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in existence, and houses several significant Shinto artifacts. Isonokami Shrine was highly regarded in the ancient era, and a favorite of the Imperial family. Isonokami Shrine played a pivotal role in Japan's early history, especially during the 3rd to 5th centuries.

Founded in 711 CE, Fushimi Inari Shrine is located in Kyoto, and is one of the most revered Shinto shrines of Japan, serving as the headquarters for all the 40,000 shrines dedicated to Inari, the Japanese kami of fertility, across Japan. Originally the god of rice, Inari now governs the modern equivalent: success and prosperity in business. Fushimi Inari Shrine draws thousands of businessmen and tradespeople each month seeking blessings for their enterprises, especially at the annual first prayers of the New Year. The land on which the shrine is built was called Shiba Shin'ami-ch? during the Edo period, the period ruled by the Shoguns of the Tokugawa, on land formerly owned by the famous Arima clan.

Izumo-taisha Shrine, also known as Izumo ?yashiro, is located in Izumo Shimane Prefecture, and is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in all Japan. Dedicated to the god ?kuninushi, the Shinto deity of marriage, it is home to two highly significant festivals.  While there is no record of exactly when Izumo-taisha Shrine was built, a record compiled around 950 CE describes the shrine as the highest building known, reaching approximately 48 meters, which exceeds in height the 45 meter-tall temple that enshrined the Great Image of Buddha, in T?dai-ji.  Its size is a reflection of Shinto cosmology which places the kami, deemed extraordinary and majestic parts of nature, above the human world. Izumo-taisha Shrine is thought to have been an attempt to create a place for the kami that would be above humans.

Today, most Shinto shrines are managed by committees made up of priests (kannushi), parishioners, and parishioner representatives whose responsibility it is to see that the shrines are properly maintained, prepared for seasonal and special ceremonies, and that tradition is perpetuated.

 

How to Pray at a sacred Shinto Shrine video

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For More on This and Related Topics See:

Shintoism: Japan's Nature-Based Religion.

Shiitake

Reishi

Caterpillar

Tokyo: World's Busiest Intersection

Japan's Sacred Black Rice

Primary Sources:

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/sacred-sites/shinto-shrines.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/places/shrines_1.shtml

http://www.tsubakishrine.org/

Images via Wikipedia.org and Traveljapan.com

7 comments

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Posted on Nov 30, 2010
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Posted on Nov 11, 2010
James R. Coffey
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