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Japan's Shrines and Deities


Latest Shrine Description:

Suehiro Jinja


Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku

Sacred Tokyo 40 Shinto Shrines

"...any being whatsoever which possesses some eminent quality out of the ordinary, and is awe-inspiring, is called Kami.”


There are now over 250 shrines described on this website. Maintaining it is an ongoing labour of love—there is virtually no external copy and paste—and takes a considerable amount of time. I would very much appreciate it if you would show your appreciation by buying my book "Sacred Tokyo, 40 Shinto Shrines". Details can be found by clicking the image at the top right hand corner of this page. 

How many shrines in Japan?


at least 174,000

possibly 261,000

Number of shrines in database: 70,267

Number of shrines on webpage: 251

How many Kami in Japan?


proverbially eight million

but as they can be everywhere

and in everything

the number is incalculable

                                           Recent Additions

September 11:  Suehiro Jinja  末広神社

Another small shrine in the midst of Tokyo's Nihonbashi business district.

It is one of the Nihonbashi Shichi Fukujin (Nihonbashi Seven Lucky Gods) shrines, and houses Bishamonten.  It was the tutelary jinja for Tokyo's orignal Yoshiwara red-light district.

August 31: Koami Jinja     小網神社

A small, very popular shrine in  the midst of Tokyo’s Nihonbashi business district. It is one of the Nihonbashi Shichi Fukujin (Nihonbashi Seven Lucky Gods) shrines, and houses Benzaiten. Traces its origins to a hermitage founded around the turn of the 10th century, but emerged in something like its present form in 466 when it was instrumental in fending off an epidemic which was sweeping the area. Probably its  main attraction is its small Tokyo Money Washing Benten Well. The popular belief is that if you wash your coins in this well and replace them in your purse or pocket prosperity will ensue.

August 9:     Shintotaikyo Icho Hachiman-Gu           神道大教銀杏八幡宮

In 1713 the Echizen Matsudaira family of Fukui Province donated some land inside the then Tokiwabashi gate of Edo Castle to build a shrine to house the tutelary deity of the family’s Edo residence. It is said that the shrine was moved to a new location on September 27, 1775 and it took  its name from the existence  in the new site of a 300-400 year old gingko, “icho” tree.

July 30:  Hyogo-ken Himeji Gokoku Jinja   兵庫縣姫路護國神社

Also located in the grounds of Himeji Castle, this shrine is dedicated to the  56,998 people from the southwest of Hyogo Prefecture who gave their lives for their country from the Boshin War of 1868 onwards. It is one of the 52 Gokoku Jinja loosely affiliated to Yasukuni Jinja.

July 25: Himeji Jinja  姫路神社

Himeji Jinja is situated in Himeyama Park inside Himeji Castle, the largest castle in Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine protects the castle against the inauspicious elements said to emanate from the northeast direction (“kimon”鬼門).
The shrine’s  main kami is a human being (“jinbutsu-kami”) by the name of Sakai Masachika. The Sakai clan ruled Himeji Province for 120 years until the abolition of the feudal domains and the latter's replacement with prefectures in 1871. This caused the clan to move to the newly established capital of Tokyo.  

July 16: Tsushima Jinja 津島神社

This one very much just for the record. I visited it because it was close to Hirata Jinja.

There is very little information available  on this shrine: even the notice board in the shrine grounds deals with the main Tsushima Jinja in Tsushima-shi in Aichi-ken. 

July 10:   Hirata Jinja    平田神社

The enshrined Kami is  a human being ("jinbutsu-kami"), Hirata Atsutane. (1776-1843). He was one  of the four leading figures of the Edo Period National Learning School. The shrine was founded In November 1869 when an adopted son of Atsutane, Hirata Kanetane, built a small shrine to honour him in the family residence in Kyoto. In August 1875, the family moved to what is now Sumida-ku in Tokyo and took the Atsutane Jinja with them.   In November 1881, a gift from Emperor Meiji saw the shrine move to what is now Kasuga in Bunkyo-ku. This was burnt down in WWII, and in 1959 it was rebuilt in its current location. The main shrine building was reconstructed in June 1987. 

June 13:  Hakusan Jinja  白山神社

Said to have been founded in 1490, but all records of its history were lost when its betto-ji was destroyed by fire in the Edo Period. It has two in-ground shrines, Mitsumine Jinja and Inari Jinja, and these house a fascinating collection of carvings, which alone make this shrine well worth a visit. The main shrine became known as a place for curing toothache. This came about when the younger brother of its founder was suffering a severe bout of toothache and was told in a dream by the Hakusan Kami to eat his meals using chopsticks made from the bush clover found in the grounds of the shrine: this he did and lo and behold he completely recovered from his toothache.

May 1:      11 Inari Shrines in Ginza    銀座にある11の稲荷神社

My database contains sixteen shrines located in Ginza in Chuo-ku in the heart of Tokyo. Of these sixteen, eleven are Inari Jinja meaning that there is one Inari Jinja for every 270 of Ginza’s resident population. I suspect that this  is the lowest such number in Japan, and by extension in the world. Of course the number for daytime population—people working in shops and offices, sightseers, shoppers etc—is much higher. I haven’t been able to find a figure for Ginza’s daytime population but for Chuo-ku as a whole the daytime/resident population ratio is 3.84: applying this to Ginza the number of Inari Jinja per head of daytime population rises from 270 to 1,038, still a very low number. Five of the eleven are described on this page, I will be addimg more in due course.

April 6:      Kitano Tenman Shrine   北野天満神社

This shrine was established in June 1180 by Taira Kiyomori when he moved the capital from Kyoto to what is now Kobe and established the Fukuhara-kyo, the seat of government. Kyoto’s Kitano Tenman-Gu was seen as protecting the Imperial Court against the inauspicious emanations from the northeast direction (鬼門) and its Kami, Sugawara Michizane, was enshrined through the kanjō process. 

March 29:  Watatsumi Shrine       海神者

This shrine’s formal name is Watatsumi Jinja but it is colloquially much better known as Umi Jinja. The shrine legend tells us that it was founded when Empress Jingū was returning from the Three Han (三韓, Korea) campaign. The first historical mention was in 806. It is one of the Three Major Shrines of Harima Province, and one  of the nine shrines listed in the Akashi District of Harima Province in the Eng-Shiki.

March 19: Ono Terusaki Shrine   小野照崎神社

This shrine’s main Kami is a jinbutsu-kami, Ono Takamura, a calligrapher and poet who lived during the early Heian Period. It is said that the origin of the shrine was in 852 when local residents began to worship Ono.
At the rear of the shrine there is a Fujizuka. Built in 1782 and 6m. high it is open to the public on June 30 and July 1 to coincide with the official opening of Mt. Fuji. In 1979 it was designated an Important tangible folk cultural property.

March 5:     Oyama Afuri Shrine        大山阿夫利神社

Said to have been founded in 97 BC. Located on Mt Oyama, 46.5km from Mt Fuji as the crow flies, and a centre of pilgrimage since Edo times. The shrine’s home page tells us that about 200,000 pilgrims, mostly from Edo, visited the Oyama site each year in the mid-eighteenth century; this at a time when Edo’s population was about one million. A much earlier pilgrim to the shrine, and certaiinly one of the most famous, was Minamoto Yoritomo, who is said to have started the custom of Osame-dachi (donating swords to the shrine. 

February 20:  Minatogawa Jinja        湊川神社

This shrine is all about samurai loyalty as exemplified by its Kami, Kusunoki Masashige. He was a loyal servant of Emperor Go-Daigo in the latter’s successful attempt to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate. This happened in 1333 and a short period of imperial rule followed. In 1336, however, Ashikaga Takauji defeated the imperial forces, ushering in the Ashikaga Shogunate. In the same year Kusonogi sacrificed his life fighting in the Battle of Minatogawa on the instructions of Emperor Go Daigo. This battle was widely seen as a disastrous decision on the part of the emperor.

February 6:  Ha Jinja       歯神社

Like Otabi-Sha, Ha Shrine is an auxiliary shrine of Tsunashiki Ten Shrine. It is a very small shrine, only about 7㎡ in area, and it may be true to say that its story is more interesting than the shrine itself. The “Ha” in its name means “tooth” so it may not be surprising that the shrine celebrates toothbrushes on its annual festival on June 4, which day has been designated Cavity Prevention Day by the Japan Dental Association. It has become something of a mecca for anyone connected with dental issues.  

January 31:  Tsunashiki Ten Shrine/Otabi-Sha      綱敷天 神社/御旅所

Otabi-Sha is an auxiliary shrine of Tsunashiki Ten Jinja. It functions as  a place of repose and tranquillity for the spirit of the Kami of Tsunashiki Ten Jinja when they are being paraded around town on a palanquin during festivals.

January 23: Tsunashiki Ten Shrine  綱敷天神社

Tsunashiki Ten Shrine dates to 822, when the 52nd emperor, Saga, spent a night at Kamiyama, where the shrine is located. Saga died the following year, and in 843 as an act of mourning his son, Minamoto Toru, built seven halls in the neighbouring Taiyū Temple, and a shrine, the Kamino Daijingu, where his father was enshrined. This in due course became the current Tsunashiki Ten Shrine, which is the only shrine in the country where Emperor Saga is a principal deity. The other principal deity of this shrine is Sugawara Michizane.




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                                                                                     Layout design support : Akiko Morita                                                                                                                                                                            レイアウトデザイン協力:森田 明子

Note: Throughout this site the colour violet is associated with kami/gods, red with shrines/jinja


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