Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

How to distinguish shinto shrines from buddhist temples.

Date Published: Last Update:2014/06/17 Travel & View point ,

If you are sightseeing in Japan, in many cases, you may have the chance to visit different temples and shrines .

At this time, you will be troubled for the different manners of temples and shrines.

(Because these are the buildings of another religion.)


But, if you understand a few key points, it is fairly easy to distinguish the two.


1. There is a “Torii” gate at the shrine.


In the Shinto shrine, you pass through the torii before entering there.

So, if you find a torii, in most cases, it’s a shrine.


By the way, ‘Torii’ means the entrance to a sacred place.


2. In the shrine, there are statues of animal.(With exceptions)


In front of the main hall of the shrine, there are statues of an animal.

They called “Komainu” that guard god.


In the temple, in many cases, there are human type statues called Nio (Deva King) at a temple gate.


By the way, They are a pair of “阿;A” shape and “吽;Un” shape.

Who open their mouth is “阿;A” shape and close is “吽;Un” shape.


“阿;A” and “吽;Un” were the words that express the beginning and end of the universe, respectively.

(That is why, the Japanese syllabary starts with “あ;A” and ends with “ん;Un”… It is a joke.)


4. You often see the Rope called “Shimenawa”.

Take a look at this picture.



5. In Buddhist temples, there is a place to burn incense.


If you burn incense in the buddhist temple, meaning clean your body and mind.


6. Type of bells are different in the buddhist temple and shinto-shrine.

Take a look at this picture.





buddhist temple


Many temples will have large bells.


7. Workers are different.

In the Shinto-shrine, there are chief priest called “Guji”(or “Kannushi”) and priestess called “Miko”.


In the buddhist temple, there are monks and nuns (called “Ama”).


So, when you see a woman in red “Hakama” skirt, you will know that it is a shrine.



I have seen the various difference between shinto-shrine and buddhist temple.

After all, the easiest and guaranteed way to tell the difference of them, is to check whether there is a torii.


“torii” = “shrine”


With this, you will never have trouble distinguishing between shrines and temples.


That’s all.

Thank you for reading.



In this way, you got to be able to distinguish shinto shrines from buddhist temples.
But, even if you wrong manners in shinto shrines and buddhist temples, Japanese are tolerant to foreigners, and they would not complain about your manners.
So, you do not have to worry about their difference so much.


The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

rainbow bridge

Odaiba Trip : Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

Talking about Tokyo, I could think of tall buildings, high bridges, and a well-developed City. That is what comes out of my mind before I went to Japan. When I was in Japan, we had our trip to Tokyo and we visited some of the famous places there and I could say, Tokyo is not […]

Read Article

Cascading water

Kyoto: Strolling around Kamogawa River and iconic Gion

After enjoying our morning hunt for momiji leaves (we enjoyed it so much that we did not realize that we have walked for more than two hours), we decided to take a short break before we continue our hunting trip. I know Kyoto is one of the best places to enjoy Japanese cuisine but we […]

Read Article


Omihachiman and the man named William Merrell Vories – Part 3

Who is William Merrell Vories? William Merrell Vories was an american from Leavenworth, Kansas who at a young age of 24 left his country and moved to Japan to teach English at Hachiman Commercial High School and since his arrival at Omihachiman on February 2, 1905, he has called this place his new home. He quickly […]

Read Article


Go west : Dazaifu Tenman-guu and Kyushu National Museum

Dazaifu Tenman-guu : The “ema-dou” area and around the pond The “ema-dou” (ema house) area There is a small square where “ema-dou” is located. “Ema” is a wooden plaques with people’s wishes and/or appreciation to God. The “ema-dou” was built in 1813, and it’s the biggest and oldest existent “ema-dou” in Kyushu island. A “sake” […]

Read Article

Fushimi Inari_2

TOP 30 popular tourist destinations in Japan

“TripAdvisor”, a travel web site, has released their ranking of the “Top 30 most popular tourist destinations in Japan among foreigners in 2014″. It’s based on reviews written in languages other than Japanese between April 2013 and March 2014.(In Japan, business and school terms usually start from April.) Where do you think is the most […]

Read Article

Around Okayama : Ushimado Olive Garden

I have never been a fan of olives. If there is olive on my food, I patiently remove and set them aside. But when my friend invited me to go to an olive orchard, I immediately assented because I was curious about it and maybe they have some olive variant to my liking. Ushimado Olive […]

Read Article

Okayama Korakuen - special spot

Okayama Korakuen: From Structures to Creatures

If someone will ask me what to check out in Okayama, the first thing I would suggest would be to visit Okayama Korakuen. Aside from its easy access, its scenic spots will bring you relaxation and peace of mind away from a hectic life. The garden is surrounded by tall trees that being there would […]

Read Article

Raw Whitebait Rice Bowl (Nama Shirasu Don)

Japanese Seasonal Food: Fresh Raw Whitebait Bowl

One of the things that I look forward every year during this spring season in Japan is having “nama shirasu don.” What is “Nama Shirasu Don”? “Nama shirasu don” is a bowl of rice topped with raw whitebait. “Nama” means raw while “shirasu” means whitebait (in Japan, mostly it refers to the young anchovies). Although you can […]

Read Article


The Fukiya village in Okayama, Japan -Part 2-

What to see in the village centre There are several shops, cafes and even museums in the quite short high street. [The former Katayama residence] The house for the head family of Katayama, built in the late Edo era. The Katayama family was a very powerful merchant who made a fortune by producing “Bengara”. The […]

Read Article

Doctor Yellow

Doctor Yellow – A Special Shinkansen (Bullet Train): What’s so great about it?

Shinkansen (bullet train) is usually color white in Japan. But you can see a yellow one on rare occasions. It is called “Doctor Yellow”.   Doctor Yellow is a special vehicle whose role is to check any problems on the equipments of shinkasen. Because it’s so rare, Doctor Yellow is very popular and there is […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+