Brad Warden / Japan Temples / Text
Japan Temples Text
THE ORIGIN HISTORY AND PRESENT STATUS
OF THE TEMPLES OF JAPAN
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
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
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.
PART ONE. THE ORIGINS OF THE TEMPLES OF JAPAN
JAPAN'S TEMPLES BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF BUDDHISM
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,
(4) R. K. Reischauer gives this date as c. 40 B. C.