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What are the differences between Shrine (神社) and temple (寺) in Japan.

Matome Culture & Lifestyle
Saturday, January 07, 2017 at 21:08

What is shrine?

A Shrine is a religious facility based on Shinto religion.

Shinto is a folk belief coming down from thousands of years ago.
Unlike Christianity or Buddhism, Shinto does not have a specific founder.

Groups of ancient people forged their discipline of life and make conceptions of new Gods.
And they worshiped the God annually as a festival.

Many of current festivals in Japan have histories that they once were Shinto religious events.
As time goes by, these beliefs were integrated into Shinto.

Therefore, Shinto is not a religion in some meaning.
The point of Shinto is to lead a disciplined life honestly and happily.

Therefore Shinto does not have any specific religious theory or religious goal to achieve.
They are meant to do festivals and worship the Gods.

There are Shinto priests to keep the tradition of Shinto festival.
They are meant to preside festival and run the shrine.

But they usually do not try to passionately preach teaching of Shito.

What is temple?

Temple is based on Buddhism which was imported from India via china 1,500 years ago.

As you probably know, Buddhism was founded by Buddha.
He was born as a prince of a kingdom, but he wondered why this world is filled with pain this much.
And he got out of his cozy castle and started his life of meditation.

After he got enlightenment at the age of 30, throughout his life, he kept preaching people.

Unlike Shinto, Buddhism has its goal to achieve.
There are differences between each sect, but generally Buddhists' goal is to be Buddha.
Therefore, Buddha is not only a name of a specific person, but also a status of perfection as Buddhist.

To be a pious Buddhist, you are required to study the thought of Buddha and keep chanting Buddha's sentiments called Sutra.

As a religious leader, there are monks who are supposed to live honest and clean life and preach people.
Usually monks have to go through a training program that each Buddhism sect sets.

Monks are meant to preside funeral, marriage and so on.

How can you distinguish Shrine from Temple.

I will introduce some ways to distinguish Shrines from Temples.

Features of temple

・If there are any Buddha statues, then it is Temple.
・If there are kanji letter "寺" on the name, then it is Temple.
・If there are big gates at the entrance, it is likely a Temple.
・If there is a big chime, it is likely a Temple.
・If there are big pagoda, it is likely a Temple.
Chime at a Temple
Chime at a Temple
Features of Shrine

・Torii is located at the center of entire precinct.
・The building was raised from the ground.
・They have decorative roof.
A decorative roof of shrine
A decorative roof of shrine


Comments 3

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  • deadmo
    Usually 神社は smaller i believe, and most people will go to them to pray? something along those lines. Thats what i see anyways, being here in Japan. お寺 is bigger, with buildings and probably has ceremonies and people working there. Probably has 神社 to, depending what Japanese actually classify as a shrine. Thats my own understanding of those anyways. Hopefully it helps!
  • gohitsu
    I think, お寺 is for buddhism and 神社 is for shinto religion
  • WriterKyo
    Thank you for reading my article!

    Shrine is basically for praying for exam or something like that and open for everybody .
    Regarding life event, shrine mainly preside marriage but they usually do not so funerals.

    Temple is for Danka (believer of that temple and who has his/her family grave in the temple)
    Still big temples are oftern open to anybody to let people pray.
    Temples presides funeral mainly, sometimes marriage too
    But it's not major to do marriage at a temple.

    I have a lot of things about these topics as articles lol
    Trust me I am working around these industries :D

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