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


Naoshima Art House Project – Part 1

After visiting the port of Miyanoura on the west coast of the island of Naoshima. We decided to visit the port of Honmura located on the islands east coast. Home to the Art House Project. To get around the island tourist could take various forms of transportation such as the bus or rental bikes. Rental […]

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

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


A Weekend in Nagasaki 2 – What to Eat in Nagasaki

A trip however short or long it may be won’t be complete if you can’t sample the taste of the local food of the place you’re visiting. While in Nagasaki, we made it a point to sample their local dishes and delicacies. Local Version of Dishes We Ate in Nagasaki Champon. On top of Nagasaki’s […]

Read Article

Dog in the Konpira Shrine

Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 2 –

Konpira in Kagawa (2) Konpira-inu (Konpira dog) in Konpira Shrine Beside a copper torii near “mimaya” (stable for “shinme”. See this post), there is a statue of “Konpira-inu”. I mentioned a little bit about Konpira-inu in my dog post. In the Edo era, it was hard for common people to travel from the east of […]

Read Article


Naoshima Art House Project – Part 2

In my first post I shared with you my experience when I visited Go’o Shrine and Kadoya. Now I will tell you about the other 4 houses – Gokaisho, Haisha, Ishibashi and Minamidera. Gokaisho designed by Yoshihiro Suda. Gokaisho litterally means a place to meet and play go – a traditional Japanese board game. But don’t expect […]

Read Article


The Fukiya village in Okayama, Japan -Part 1-

I’ve been posting Momotarou-related articles so far, and to be honest, I’m getting a bit tired of recalling, researching and translating old stories. This time, I write about the Fukiya village in Okayama as an interval. Actually, I didn’t even know the name of the village until several years ago. I don’t remember how I […]

Read Article

braved the glass floor (don't mind the light sort of emanating from the water, it' just the flash. Sorry, noob photographer here)

A Day in Naruto City

Naruto. Surely, when one hears the word Naruto what comes to mind is the popular manga Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto’s name was derived from similar Japanese words: naruto which can mean a powerful whirlpool (maelstrom) or the narutomaki which is the white topping with spiral design on a ramen, and uzumaki(渦巻) which means spiral or the […]

Read Article


Visiting Hokuei – The Birthplace of Detective Conan

One of the longest running manga and anime today is Meitantei Conan (lit. Great Detective Conan) or known as Case Closed in the West. To date, the manga has more than 80 volumes and the anime has more than 700 episodes. For those who are not familiar with it, it is about highschool detective who […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+