Here's What You Need to Know About Japan's Shrines and Temples


Japan is a country that's widely known for having many shrines and temples. When planning to visit one, it's essential that you know the difference between the two.

Temples and shrines have different roots and are dedicated to different people and gods. Below, we give you some tips in understanding the differences between shrines (jinja) and temples (otera).

The birthplace of the Shinto religion is in Japan. It is an indigenous Japanese faith that worships nature and gods from the Japanese mythology. It has sanctuaries that are called jinjas.

Each jinja has a torii, a gateway composed of two vertical pillars joined together at the top by a horizontal pole. Going through the torii gate is symbolic of entering a divine space.  In these shrines, Shinto priests serve the gods. 

On the other hand, oteras belong to the Buddhist religion. It is said that oteras were introduced by China and the cultures along the Korean peninsula. 

Every Otera is dedicated to the Buddha. Buddhist monks, engaged in ascetic practices, serve inside the temple. These monks spiritually heal the people by following the teachings of the Buddhists. In general, this is how the temple works. 

In summary, jinjas are shrines where the worship of Shinto gods takes place as a celebration. Alternatively, oteras are temples where monks practice the teachings of Buddha and where statues of the Buddha are found. 

Supervised by Hiromi Shimada (born 1954, Tokyo), Bachelor of Department of religious studies of Tokyo University, Doctor of school of Humanities and Sociology. He was consecutively Assistant Professor of National Institute of Multimedia Education, Professor of Japan Women's University, and a project researcher at the  Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo. Currently, writer, religious scholar, part-time lecturer at Tokyo Women's University.


Provided by Travel Photo Guide™ and Japan Walker™ (6 February 2018)

More stories

How do you feel about this article?

Total votes
View more stories tagged ""

Read more stories about


Latest Stories

Load More Stories