The architecture of shrines and temples
Update: 31 August 2016

The architecture of shrines and temples

I am going to introduce about the architectural styles of Japanese shrines and temples.


Shinmei-zukuri consists of straight parts without many curves. The roof is triangular and made of thatching covered with a large amount of dry plant stalks and boards. The building is supported by pillars raised off the the ground called takayuka-shiki (raised-floor-style).

The representative shinmei-zukuri shrine

The model shrine is Ise-jingu Shrine located in Mie. This is a big shrine representing Japanese shrines and having been worshiped by many people since long ago. Another shrine is Atsuta Jingu in Aichi.


Taisha-zukuri has been an architectural style of Japanese shrines as well as shinmei-zukuri since long ago. Compared with the straight structure of shinmei-zukuri, taisha-zukuri has a characteristic of having a curved structure for its roof. Its floor is takayuka-shiki, the same as shinmei-zukuri, supported by several pillars. If you look at the shrine from front, a shinmei-zukuri shrine looks wide on both sides, however a taisha-zukuri shrine looks like it has depth.

The representative taisha-zukuri shrine

Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine is located in Shimane. It is a famous for being a shrine where gods from all over Japan gather once a year.

Japanese architecture

Japanese architecture had been used in Japan even before zenshu (zen-style architecture) and daibutsuyo (religious architectural style) were influenced by China and developed. It has the characteristic of being designed with low ceilings. It has quiet rooms close to the noble's residence of the Heian Period. Also the outer circumference has a wooden-floored path called "engawa." A temple famous for its Japanese architectural style is Byodo-in's Phoenix Hall located in Kyoto. It is a beautiful building with bilateral symmetry that looks like a legendary bird, the Chinese phoenix, spreading its wings.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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