Chapter 9. Shinto


We call the house of a spirit a shrine. We say these spirits, the kami, are gods or deities, but they could be natural phenomena, or venerated ancestors, or elements of a landscape, or qualities, or, like gods, beings. The first jinja were built to attract kami to ensure good harvests. They are sacred places. * At the entrance to a jinja is a torii, a gate that is usually formed by two pillars painted vermilion, the hashira, spanned by a lintel at the top, the kasagi, painted vermilion and black, and a second vermilion lintel under that, the nuki. Past the torii in the sacred area may be a dance hall or theater, the Kagura-den, an office, the Shamusho, a meeting hall, the haiden, auxiliary shrines, stone lanterns, tōr ō, and wooden prayer plaques, ema. A fence, the tamagaki, surrounds the sanctuary, the honden, and the roof of the honden is typically characterized by chigi, forked roof finials, and katsuogi, short horizontal logs laying across the ridge.


Shinto shrines were temporary until the introduction of Buddhism, as Buddhist priests recognized local kami and incorporated them into shrine-temples and temple-shrines.