Updated: July 25, 2016
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What Is The Difference Between Temples And Shrines In Japan?

When you hear "A Japanese traditional building", you may think of shrines or temples. Both of them represent the Japanesque belief, but can you distinguish them? Actually, there is a great difference between the two, although many Japanese people know it.

#1 What is "Temple"?

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You may be surprised, but temples are not derived from the Japanese culture, for what temples represent is Buddhism, which is from India and China.

Temples are built in order to enshrine the Buddha or other Buddhism images, so they have some statues as the embodiment of the divinity to worship in the building.
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Actually, the original Buddhism of the other country has no special protocols to do and just provides the way of thinking, whereas the Japanese Buddhism has some ones. In this regard, the original Buddhism is a kind of philosophy, although the Japanese Buddhism is a religion.
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Temples represent the Japanese Buddhism, which is mixed up with the their outlook.

#2 What is "Shrine"?

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Shrines are originally born in Japan, and they are related to Shinto, the Japanese religion, where they think what we call "God" is not only one, and "They" are ubiquitous, especially in nature.
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In this religion, every local has its own God, and people banned to trespass such a place or area where the God belong. Such areas became divine, and later, Japanese people made a building there; this is a shrine
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In this regard, shrines represent the original history of Japan and its religion to live with Gods without disturbing each other. For example, there is a shrine gate (Tori-i) in shrines, which is built to divide the living space of human beings from that of divine beings. If you get through the gate of a shrine, you are inside of the space where Gods are living.
Akitsugu Domoto

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