Brad Warden / Japan Temples / Text

Japan Temples Text





     Japan's two hundred forty thousand temples(1) play a very

important part in the life of her energetic and industrious

people.  This study is an investigation of the origin, history,

and present status of the temples where the courteous Japanese

people worship their deities.  These places where obeisance is

made to the gods are the State Shintō shrines, the Sectarian

Shintō chapels, and the Buddhist temples.  Collectively, all

may be spoken of as temples; but the distinctive terms, "shrine,"

"chapel," and "temple," are preferred inasmuch as the government

makes a similar official distinction(2) and the three categories


     (1)  Buddhist temples              106,521
          Buddhist chapels                7,539
          Shinto shrines                111,137
          Sectarian Shinto chapels       15,388
          Confucian temples             _____11__
          See Tables 11, 12, 22, 26.
          These are in addition to the thousands of temples of the
"semi-religions," not to mention the Christian churches.
     (2)  The Japanese terms for the temples of State Shintō,
Sectarian Shinto, and Buddhism are, respectively, jinja (or jingu
or miya), kyōkai, and tera (or jiin).  The suffix -ji, in proper
names, means "temple."
          In this thesis Japanese words and names are Romanized
according to the system employed in Kenkyusha's New Japanese-
English Dictinoary.  In general, consonants are pronounced as in
English and vowels as in Latin.  Long vowels, which are indicated,
are to be given twice the length of the unmarked short vowels.
There are practically no silent letters.


of religious institutions differ in many particulars.  The

temples of Confucianism and those of other semi-religious cults are 

separately considered.

     Much of the material of the present study was gathered in

personal visits to representative temples in different parts of

Japan, and in interviews with temple builders, priests, people,

scholars, and officials of the Bureau of Shrines and the Bureau

of Religions of the Imperial Japanese Government.  Official

publications of the government, various religious groups, and

the Asiatic Society of Japan have furnished much information;

and the works of many Japanese and foreign students of Japan's

religions have been freely consulted.  The individual temple

sketches by Professors Taniyama Keirin, Tanabe Yasushi, Aohori

Matajiro, and others, in the Daihyakkaijiten and the Nippon

Hyakkadaijiten encyclopedias, have furnished valuable information.

     Dr. Fujishima Gaijiro of the Tokyo Imperial University,

Professor Tanabe Yasushi of Waseda, Mr. Oya Isamu of the Board

of Tourist Industry, Professor Ooka Minoru, and others have

greatly assisted in the securing of authoritative photographs.

     For the sake of clearness, the temples of each religion are

considered separately; but it is important to bear in mind the

fact that, in the heart of the average Japanese, Shinto, Confucian,

Buddhist, and often Christian elements are fused into one personal

faith.(3)  Harada speaks of the faith of Japan as "a composite

creation," "not Shinto, Confucianism, Buddhism or Christianity,


     (3)  A. K. Reischauer, Studies in Japanese Buddhism, p. 3.


or any other religon, but that union of elements from each and

all that have taken root in Japanese soil and moulded the thought

and life of her people."(4)  This mingling of the faiths is well

illustrated by the funeral of a prominent Shintoist where

selections from Christian and Buddhist as well as Shinto writings

were read.(5)

     State Shinto is the modern successor of the ancient indige-

nous nature and spirit worship.  The Sectarian Shinto sects were

separated from the state cult and independently organized during

the years just preceding and following the promulgation of the

Constitution of 1889 in an attempt to "secularize" State Shinto

by ridding it of all "religious" elements.  Buddhism, originating

in India, officially entered Japan by way of China and Korea in

the sixth century A. D. and is still powerful.  It was accompanied

by Taoism which, however, brought no temples.  Confucianism,

which is now represented in Japan by only eleven temples, had

preceded Buddhism by perhaps a century or two.

     Part one of this thesis considers the origins of the temples;

Part Two, their sectarian and architectural history; and Part

Three, their present status.


     (4)  Harada Tasuku, The Faith of Japan, p. 2.   (In the foot-
notes, as well as in the bibliography of this thesis, names of
Japanese authors are given in their natural order--surname first.)
     (5)  Young East.  Vol. III., No. 1, p. 102, July, 1927.



                       CHAPTER I


      The Origin of the Japanese People and Shinto

     The origin of Shinto(1) is lost int eh fogs of antiquity,--

lost with the origin of the Japanese people themselves.  This is

primarily due to the fact of their having no means of recording

events prior ro the coming of the Chinese characters in the fifth

or sixth century A. D.  By the beginning of the eighth century

they had made up for lost time and had constructed or compiled

their previous history from the uncertain pages of tradition.

Not a few empty spaces were filled in with materials borrowed

from China.(2)  The early chronologers tell us that the empire of

Japan began with the accession of Jimmu Tenno in 660 B. c., but

this is probably half a millenium too early.  The late Nitobe

admits "a miscalculatino by some ten sexagenary cycles,"(3) or six

hundred years, which would bring up the accessino date to 60 B. C.


     (1)  The word Shinto is made up of two Chinese characters
meaning the Way of the Gods.  The term first appears in Japanese
literature in a message written by Soga Iname to a Korean prince
in 555 A. D.  (James Murdoch, A History of Japan, Vol. I.,
p. 114.)  For the sake of continuity the term is used in this
study in referring to this religion in all its periods of
     (2)  Asakawa Kanichi, The Early Institutional Life of Japan,
pp. 7, 8, 47, 48.
     (3)  Nitobe Inazō, Japanese Traits and Foreign Influences,
p. 69.
     (4)  R. K. Reischauer gives this date as c. 40 B. C.