The differences between temples and shrines お寺と神社

  • Published on : 01/09/2020
  • by : R.A. / J.R.
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The religions of Japan: What are the differences between a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple?

Shinto altars in Buddhist temples, Buddhist statues in Shinto shrines, the places of worship of the two great religions in Japan are sometimes mixed. However, it is not that difficult to distinguish a shrine from a temple, once you know a few architectural details.

At the entrance is a small basin of water accompanied by a bamboo ladle: this is the chozuya, where the faithful must wash their hands and mouth to purify themselves.

The Shinto shrine is made up of two buildings: the haiden, where ceremonies take place, and the honden, a closed building reserved for the kami and objects personifying it. The two buildings are sometimes interconnected and topped with gables.

The torii, portal of a sanctuary

The torii, portal of a sanctuary

Pixabay

The chozuya

The chozuya

Flickr DJ Anderson, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Ema plaques

Ema plaques

Flickr Travel Oriented, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

A building that is easily recognized as a Buddhist temple is the pagoda, which is an evolution of the Indian stupa. It is called to and has three or five floors. It is nevertheless possible to find a pagoda within the enclosure of a Shinto shrine, for example at Itsukushima-jinja, because of the mixture of the two religions before 1868.

Statues representing Buddha, or bodhisattvas, are also very often present. Buddhist temples usually have a garden (a dry garden in the case of the Zen branch), the latter being lit by stone lanterns, the toro.

 

A Japanese pagoda

A Japanese pagoda

Pixabay

Large gate at the entrance of Todai-ji

Large gate at the entrance of Todai-ji

Flickr Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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