Yesterday in my post about altars, shrines and sacred places, shrines didn’t really get a mention. Today I thought I’d share with you the little that I learnt about shrines when I was fortunate enough to visit whilst in Japan last year.
There I learnt that the difference between a temple and a shrine was that a temple contained a representation of something whereas a shrine didn’t. I am sure this is incredibly simplistic but basically, in Japan at least, a Buddhist Temple contained a representation of Buddha, one or more altars and could be entered, whereas a Shinto Shrine was simply a building that housed the spirit of whatever the shrine was dedicated to. Although the area around a shrine could be entered the shrine itself could not be.
Although there are shrines everywhere in Japan the sacred mountain of Mount Kurama near Kyoto is dotted with them all dedicated to an individual spirit, often one connected with an aspect of nature, which is itself at the heart of Shinto.
All of the images here are a small selection of the shrines on Mount Kurama.