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Japan's Shrines and Deities


Latest Shrine Description:


Hyogo-ken, Kobe-shi

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 240 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: 70,243

Number of shrines on webpage: 241

How many Kami in Japan?


proverbially eight million

but as they can be everywhere

and in everything

the number is incalculable

                                           Recent Additions

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.

January 15: Seitaga Shrine    勢伊多賀神社

Another shrine in Matsumoto-shi about which little information is available. Its origin is unclear, but the unearthing nearby of a copper sheet engraved with the names of its two Kami, Izanagi and Kanayama-hiko, suggests that it is quite old. 

January 4: Sarutahiko Shrine  猿田彦神社

This is one of four shrines I visited in Matsumoto-shi, the second largest city in Nagano-ken. It is another shrine about which little information is available. It is merely listed on the Nagano Jinjacho home page, no information is given.

January 2: Hachiman Shrine 八幡神社

This is one of four shrines I visited in Matsumoto-shi, the second largest city in Nagano-ken. It was founded in 1505 near its current location but its proximity to the River Nagai (奈良井川) resulted in its being washed away when that river flooded in August 1559. Attempts to rebuild the shrine were nullified by repeated flooding over the next 90 years, and in 1691 it was rebuilt in its current location.

December 18:  Shakujii Shrine  石神井神社

The age and origins of this shrine are unclear, but in Edo Period topographies such as the Shishin Chimeiroku and the Shinpen-Musashi-Fudo-Kiko we are told that there was one or more shrines (the original text is vague) called Shakujin Jinja (石神の神社, lit. Shrine of the Stone God), and that the shintai of the shrine was a sword-shaped stone (石剣, sekken) dating from before the Age of the Gods.

November 30:  Shakujii Inari Shrine    石神井稲荷神社

This Inari Shrine is located in a corner of the Kamishakujii Heights housing complex. The site had been the sports ground of the then Tokyo University of Commerce, the current Hitotsubashi University. The university’s campus in Kanda in central Tokyo was badly damaged by fire in 1923 and a temporary school building for preparatory students was constructed on this site. It was used from 1924 until being moved to Kodaira in August 1933.

November 25: Miharadai Inari Shrine  三原台稲荷

Dates to the early years of the eighteenth century. The oldest parts of the shrine, dating to the Taisho Period, 1912-1926, are the main torii and the stone lanterns. The main hall and prayer hall were rebuilt in 1959. Inside the latter there is a collection of 36 ema and votive tablets from the closing days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. There are several stone monuments in two smaller, unnamed shrines in the grounds dedicated to, among others, Ontake Okami, Komyo Reijin, and  Hitoyama Reijin.

November 13: Mitsumine Shrine 三峯神社

As far as I am aware there is almost nothing in the publc domain about this shrine. What makes it interesting is the gatherings that were held here to pray to Jukuya Sama (十九夜様, lit. Goddess of the 19th night). She is a manifestation of Kannon Bosatsu. The 19th was decided on under the lunar calendar and the gatherings were often held every month. It seems that they lasted until the moon rose. The people attending the gathering were mostly local women praying for safe childbirth. 

At the back of the shrine is a collecton of seven carvings of the associated Buddhist deities and the characters Jukuya can be deciphered on some of them.

November 6:  Torikoe Shrine 鳥越神社

Founded in 651 as Shiratori Myojin, although legend has it that this is the renaming of a shrine built by Yamato Takeru in the first century to honour his two imperial ancestors. Later renamed Torikoe (lit. "Bird Crossing") Daimyojin by Minamoto Yoriyoshi following divine intervention in the form of a white bird which enabled his army to cross the River Sumida while engaged in the Early Nine Years' War in the mid-eleventh century.

October 30:  Suga Shrine  須賀神社

Founded by Fujiwara Hidesato in 940 after his victory over Taira Masakado in the Tengyo Rebellion. The Kami of Hachiman-Sha in Kyoto’s Gion district, Susanoo, was enshrined through the kanjō process. The shrine is spacious and connected to what was the Nikko Kaido by a long approach road. Another of the interesting features of the shrine is the way in which ten in-ground shrines are grouped together, with a separate torii.

October 24: Kajitori Inari Jinja 揖取稲荷神社

A small shrine in the heart of downtown Tokyo just across the Sumida River from the National Sumo Arena in Ryogoku. In the Keicho Period (1596-1615), ships transporting large stones from Kumamoto in Kyushu to Edo to be used in the construction of rice granaries sometimes ran into difficulties off the coast of Enshu (western Shizuoka). To help placate the gods, an Inari Jinja was built inside the rice storehouse in Asakusa in downtown Edo. The shrine was named Kajitori Inari Jinja.



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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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