Tamura Shrine – Japanese Indigenous Faith up Close

Japanese Shinto

Here we want to tell you something about Japans very own religion, something you won’t find anywhere else in the world – Shinto.
If you’ve looked at pictures of Japan you probably saw one of these alone standing gates that are not the entrance to anything, called Torii.

There’s a word in the Shinto religion that means “eight million gods”, which describes the myriad of gods they have. A god, called “Kami”, is described as the power of a phenomena that inspires a sense of awe and wonder in the eye of the beholder. For example nature, a beautiful river, an unusual rock formation as well as animals and deceased people.
The places of worship are called shrines in Shinto, and you’ll find out what is Shinto in Tamura Shrine.

Lots of Kami to be found

ichinomiyashrine_toriiTamura shrine is located 5 minutes northeast of the Ichinomiya Kotoden station by foot.
You can find these gates at the entrance or in the Shinto Shrines itself and it means that you have arrived at sacred ground.

ichinomiyashrine_entranceAny person, believer or non-believer, can visit Shinto Shrines.
As you arrive bow respectfully before passing through.

Tips : How to clean

  1. Take the handle in your right hand and wash your left hand with some water from the fountain.
  2. Switch to the left and wash your right hand.
  3. Pour water on your left hand and rinse your mouth with it, don’t drink the water.
  4. Clean your left hand once more, then hold the handle up straight and let water pour down onto it, cleaning it for the next person.


ichinomiyashrine_frontBehind the second Torii is the main shrine of Tamura in which the five gods are enshrined.


ichinomiyashrine_coinThis is Ryujin, the dragon god who symbolizes the power of the water.
To his feet people put oval gold coins to pray for money luck in their lives.
On both sides leading up to Ryujin are the 12 Japanese zodiac sign animals.


ichinomiyashrine_shichifukujinOn the right side of the shrine area is a small garden with trees, bridges and a beautifully decorated Japanese pond. These happy people are the Shichi-Fukujin, the Seven gods of good fortune and their treasure ship.
The tradition says that they will arrive at a town on new years eve and distribute gifts to worthy people.

ichinomiyashrine_oinariThis shrine, which is close to the pond, is dedicated to Inari-sama, one of the most famous Kami in shinto, more than one third of all Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to him/her.
Inari-sama is the responsible Kami for foxes, fertility, agriculture and industry and general prosperity and worldly success, showing why so many shrines are dedicated for him/her.

These were some of the most important Kami which are enshrined at Tamura, showing all of them wouldn’t be possible here so you should definitely go there and check it out for yourself!