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Shinto Shrines

A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion

Joseph Cali and John Dougill

Publication Year: 2012

Of Japan’s two great religious traditions, Shinto is far less known and understood in the West. Although there are a number of books that explain the religion and its philosophy, this work is the first in English to focus on sites where Shinto has been practiced since the dawn of Japanese history. In an extensive introductory section, authors Joseph Cali and John Dougill delve into the fascinating aspects of Shinto, clarifying its relationship with Buddhism as well as its customs, symbolism, and pilgrimage routes. This is followed by a fully illustrated guide to 57 major Shinto shrines throughout Japan, many of which have been designated World Heritage Sites or National Treasures. In each comprehensive entry, the authors highlight important spiritual and physical features of the individual shrines (architecture, design, and art), associated festivals, and enshrined gods. They note the prayers offered and, for travelers, the best times to visit. With over 125 color photographs and 50 detailed illustrations of archetypical Shinto objects and shrines, this volume will enthrall not only those interested in religion but also armchair travelers and visitors to Japan alike.

Whether you are planning to visit the actual sites or take a virtual journey, this guide is the perfect companion.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. 7-58

This book is about visiting a small selection of the roughly eighty thousand Shinto shrines that exist in Japan today. It is also about the traditions embodied in these shrines as well as the festivals and rites that unite the Japanese people with those traditions. It provides information on Shinto architecture, history, rituals, and deities in general...

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pp. 59-98

Important physical features: The shrine was established in 951 during the reign of Emperor Murakami (r. 946–67). The present shrine was built at the behest of Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684–1751), the eighth Tokugawa shogun, when he had it...

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pp. 99-152

Important physical features: From JR's Inari Station, the first large torii marking the entrance to Fushimi Inari is literally a few steps away. Fushimi is the oldest and most important of the thousands of Inari shrines throughout the country. The shrine was burned down in 1468 but the existing buildings are still of great age. The...

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pp. 153-170

Important physical features: The honden is a variation of ikkensha nagarezukuri style called sankensha, with a gabled roof and the entrance on the non-gabled side. There are three doors, one for each kami enshrined, with the center door a little...

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pp. 171-204

Important physical features: The modest honden of Aiki Jinja was built by Ueshiba Morihei (1883–1969) in 1944; the haiden was built in 1962. The shrine was renewed in 2002 by Saito Morihiro, a long-time disciple and caretaker of the shrine...

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pp. 205-228

Important physical features: Obviously, the most important physical feature of Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha is Mount Fuji itself. On a clear day, from anywhere in the area, you have only to look over your shoulder and the sight of Mount Fuji fills the sky. The  mountain is considered sacred...

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pp. 229-264

Important physical features: Hiyoshi Taisha is approached from the eastern slope of Mount Hiei, facing Lake Biwa. The train brings you to the town of Sakamoto, which has since the Heian period been the temple town (monzen-machi) that developed along with the religious complex of Mount...

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pp. 265-301

Important physical features: Historically, the most important physical feature of Dazaifu was its location in northern Kyushu. When the Yamato ruling clans consolidated power over this part of the country, Dazaifu became the seat of their appointed governor. The ruins of...


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pp. 303-305


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pp. 305-314


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pp. 315-319


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pp. 321-322


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pp. 323-327

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pp. 328-330

Joseph: I would like to acknowledge my coauthor, John Dougill. His quick and sure hand, as well as his simple good cheer, kept me from falling off the edge on a number of occasions. I would like to thank Timothy Takemoto, owner of the Shinto ML, for introducing...

E-ISBN-13: 9780824837754
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824837136

Publication Year: 2012