Daily Archives: December 16, 2016
iPhoneOgraphy – 16 Dec 2016 (Day 351/366)
Shinto architecture is the architecture of Japanese Shinto Shrines.
With a few exceptions, the general blueprint of a Shinto shrine is Buddhist in origin. Before Buddhism, shrines were just temporary structures erected to a particular purpose. Buddhism brought to Japan the idea of permanent shrines and much of Shinto architecture’s vocabulary. The presence of verandas, stone lanterns, and elaborate gates are examples of this influence.
The composition of a Shinto shrine is extremely variable, and none of its possible features are necessarily present. Even the honden or sanctuary, the part which houses the kami and which is the centerpiece of a shrine, can be missing. However, since its grounds are sacred, they usually are surrounded by a fence made of stone or wood called tamagaki, while access is made possible by an approach called sandō. The entrances themselves are straddled by gates called torii, which are therefore the simplest way to identify a Shinto shrine.
A shrine may include within its grounds several structures, each destined to a different purpose. Among them are the honden or sanctuary, where the kami are enshrined, the heiden, or hall of offerings, where offers and prayers are presented, and the haiden or hall of worship, where there may be seats for worshipers. The honden is the building that contains the shintai, literally, “the sacred body of the kami”. Of these, only the haiden is open to the laity. The honden is located behind the haiden and is usually much smaller and unadorned. Other notable shrine features are the temizuya, the fountain where visitors cleanse their hands and mouth and the shamusho (社務所), the office that supervises the shrine. Shrines can be very large, as for example Ise Shrine, or as small as a beehive, as in the case of the hokora, small shrines frequently found on road sides.
Before the forced separation of Shinto and Buddhism (Shinbutsu bunri), it was not uncommon for a Buddhist temple to be built inside or next to a shrine or to the contrary for a shrine to include Buddhist subtemples. If a shrine was also a Buddhist temple, it was called a jingu-ji. At the same time, temples in the entire country adopted tutelary kami (chinju (鎮守/鎮主) and built temple shrines called chinjusha to house them. After the forcible separation of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines (shinbutsu bunri) ordered by the new government in the Meiji period, the connection between the two religions was officially severed, but continued nonetheless in practice.
The practice of marking sacred areas began in Japan as early as the Yayoi period (from about 500 BC to 300 AD) originating from primal Shinto tenets. Features in the landscape such as rocks, waterfalls, islands, and especially mountains, were places believed to be capable of attracting kami, and subsequently were worshiped as yorishiro. Originally, sacred places may have been simply marked with a surrounding fence and an entrance gate or torii. Later, temporary buildings similar to present day portable shrines were constructed to welcome the gods to the sacred place. Over time the temporary structures evolved into permanent structures that were dedicated to the gods. Ancient shrines were constructed according to the style of dwellings (Izumo Taisha) or storehouses (Ise Grand Shrine). The buildings had gabled roofs, raised floors, plank walls, and were thatched with reed or covered with hinoki cypress bark. Such early shrines did not include a space for worship. Three important forms of ancient shrine architectural styles exist: taisha-zukuri, shinmei-zukuri and sumiyoshi-zukuri They are exemplified by Izumo Taisha, Nishina Shinmei Shrine and Sumiyoshi Taisha respectively and date to before 552. According to the tradition of Shikinen sengū-sai (式年遷宮祭), the buildings or shrines were faithfully rebuilt at regular intervals adhering to the original design. In this manner, ancient styles have been replicated through the centuries to the present day.
Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+