Shinto shrines are places of worship and the dwellings of the kami, the Shinto “gods”. Sacred objects of worship that represent the kami are stored in the innermost chamber of the shrine where they cannot be seen by anybody.People visit shrines in order to pay respect to the kami or to pray for good fortune. Shrines are also visited during special events such as New Year, setsubun, shichigosan and other festivals. New born babies are traditionally brought to a shrine a few weeks after birth, and many couples hold their wedding ceremonies there.
The jinja, or shrine, is where believers in Japan’s indigenous religion, Shinto, go to worship. Shinto originated in ancient peoples’ fears of demons and supernatural powers, and their worship of these. It has no written body of doctrine, but it is Japan’s main religion and is practiced widely through ceremonies and festivals. Most visitors to Japan arrive with great enthusiasm toward Shinto sites, but after two or three shrine visits they soon experience shrine burnout. The key to appreciating Shinto shrines (and Buddhist temples for that matter) is to know a little bit about Shinto, its traditions, and its deities. Such knowledge will greatly improve your level of enjoyment. If you don’t know what is inside the shrine (or temple), you will soon lose enthusiasm. Also remember. Shinto shrines have little to see in the way of statuary. If your goal is to see statuary, please visit Buddhist temples. Shrines have more things to do — like having your fortune told and reading the prayers / wishes of visitors — but statuary is not their forte. Rather, shrines specialize in spirits, sacred incantations, and talismans. Lovers of statuary should therefore plan accordingly. Shinto deities are generally called KAMI or SHIN
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