What is a shrine?
Have you ever traveled to Japan? Are you thinking of going to Japan? Japan has many fascinating cities. You would visit various cities when you travel, such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Hokkaido. Naturally, each city has its own highlights, and there are some places you must visit. Therefore, you will definitely visit some shrines and temples during your trip to Japan.
In this blog, I’d like to explain what a shrine is.
First of all, how many shrines do you think exist? About 85,000 shrines are registered. Those are scattered all over the country, and each has a wide variety of sizes and history. In fact, it is said that there are more than 100,000 shrines, including small ones that are not registered, which shows how it affects the belief and life of Japan.
The origin of a shrine
There have been places to worship God in Japan since ancient times, but it was considered as a place for God to live in large trees, monoliths, and mountains. Instead of the building as it is today, there was something like an altar that was temporarily set up for events. This became the origin of the shrine. Some old shrines do not have the main building and are said to have taken the form of an altar.
A shrine is a facility for Shinto gods
A shrine was built as a religious facility for worshiping Shinto gods, which have long been venerated in Japan. It is also closely related to Japanese mythology and has a deep connection with the life of the Japanese people since ancient times. From the fact of having more than 100,000 shrines are built all over the country, it tells how the Japanese lived with feeling the existence of God.
There are various kinds of Shinto Gods, called Ya-o-Yorozu, which means countless God, and the ones blessed by the shrines differ, but the main ones are as follows.
- Gods of Heaven and Earth (Tenjin Chigi)
- The spirit of great men and worshipers
- Nature and animals
- Foreign gods such as Onmyoji and Taoism
- Imperial ancestors and clan ancestors
In addition to the above, some shrines enshrine railroad rails, and the Japanese genuinely believe in various gods.
Why go to a shrine
There are various reasons why the Japanese go to a shrine, but the most important thing is to go to express their daily gratitude to their Gods. Due to its geopolitics, Japanese people have always lived in the land facing typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, and heavy rain, which people cannot control. Since such natural disasters hurt people’s lives, but these bring rich experience at the same time, they have worshiped that God exists in nature. And it’s crucial to go to the shrine to recognize that people are also a part of nature and to thank them for enriching their lives.
Therefore, if there is a chance to go to a shrine, it is best to give thanks first, and then give your determination and wishes to God.
It is said that God gives us the benefit by seeing the attitude of being grateful for various things and spending our days.