Shinto Shrine Types: Jingu, Gu, Dai-Jingu, Taisha, Jinja, Sha

“Shinto (神道)” is the native religion of Japan that doesn’t have either scriptures or teachings or even any founders.

Instead, Shinto has a religious culture based on polytheism seen in the “Yaoyorozu no Kami (八百万の神: eight million gods)” worshiping nature and natural phenomena.

The gods are identical to nature in Shinto where the specific procedure to communicate with them is known as “Saishi (祭祀)”, which takes place in its shines.

Actually, there are over 88,000 Shinto shrines in Japan, which are broadly classified into 6 types; “Jingu (神宮)”, “Gu (宮)”, “Dai-Jingu (大神宮)”, “Taisha (大社)”, “Jinja (神社)”, and “Sha (社)”.

But what is the difference between them?

Types of Shinto Shrines 

Based on this Japanese website, the difference between the 6 types of Shinto shrines is as follows.

Jingu (神宮)

Meiji Jingu (明治神宮)Meiji Jingu

Jingu refers to the prestigious or historic Shinto shrine with the highest rank.

Jingu has a deep connection to the Imperial Family of Japan and enshrines ancestor gods of the family. 

Examples of the Jingu shrine include “Ise Jingu (伊勢神宮)” in Mie Prefecture and “Meiji Jingu (明治神宮) in Tokyo“.

Gu (宮)

Dazaifu Tenmangu (太宰府天満宮)Dazaifu Tenmangu

Gu refers to the Shinto shrine with a high status given its name because of having some special reason.

Gu enshrines deceased persons relating to the Emperor of Japan or the Imperial Family. 

Examples of the Gu shrine include “Nikko Toshogu (日光東照宮)” in Tochigi and “Dazaifu Tenmangu (太宰府天満宮)” in Fukuoka.

Dai-Jingu (大神宮)

Tokyo Daijingu (東京大神宮)Tokyo Dai-Jingu

Dai-Jingu refers to a branch shrine of “Ise Jingu (伊勢神宮)”, namely, “Tokyo Daijingu (東京大神宮)” located in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.

Taisha (大社)

Izumo Taisha (出雲大社)Izumo Taisha

Taisha refers to the large Shinto shrine with a high status known as a hub of religion in local areas of Japan. 

Examples of the Taisha shrine include “Izumo Taisha (出雲大社)” in Shimane and “Kasuga Taisha (春日大社)” in Nara.

Jinja (神社)

Jinja is the most common type of Shinto shrine.

Sha (社)

Relatively small Shinto shrines are given the name Sha, which is the abbreviation of Jinja.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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