The Difference: Otera (Temple) vs. Jinja (Shrine)
If you plan to stroll around a city in Japan, you will probably see two types of sacred spots there.
One is the Otera (お寺) temple, and the other is the Jinja (神社) shrine, but how do the two differ? For people curious, this article will explain that.
Otera (お寺) vs. Jinja (神社)
According to True-buddhism.com, there are four fundamental differences between Otera temples and Jinja shrines, which are as follows.
A Buddhist Temple called Otera (お寺)
First, while the Japanese temple Otera belongs to the Buddhist religion, the Japanese shrine Jinja belongs to Shinto (神道), recognized as one of the state religions of Japan.
The teachings of Buddhism and Shinto are thoroughly different, which results in differences in outward appearance between Otera and Jinja.
Further, while at least one priest lives in the precincts of Otera, the same thing doesn’t necessarily apply to Jinja (No one may be there).
2. Torii Gate
Torii Gate of a Jinja
Specifically, as a difference in outward appearance, while the Jinja shrine has at least one Torii (鳥居) gate (typically with red color) on its grounds, the Otera temple doesn’t have such a unique-shaped gateway like Torii.
Graves on the grounds of an Otera
As another difference in outward appearance, while there are graves on the grounds of the Otera temple, the Jinja shrine doesn’t have any.
Lastly, while most of the names of Otera end with the word 寺, like Senso-Ji/浅草寺, Todai-Ji/東大寺, or Kinkaku-Ji/金閣寺, the ones of Jinja usually end with 社 or 宮.