The Difference: Otera (Temples) vs Jinja (Shrines)
If you have a chance to stroll around a city in Japan, you will see 2 types of sacred spots scattered there, which are Japanese temples “Otera (お寺)” and shrines “Jinja (神社)“. Then, how is the Otera temple different from the Jinja shine?
4 Fundamental Differences between Otera and Jinja
According to the Japanese website, true-buddhism.com, there are following 4 fundamental differences between Otera temples and Jinja shrines.
A Buddhist Temple “Otera (お寺)”
The Japanese temple, Otera belongs to the Buddhist religion, while the Japanese shrine, Jinja belongs to “Shinto (神道)” that is recognized as one of the state religions of Japan.
The teachings of Buddhism and the ones of Shinto are completely different, which results in differences in outward appearance between Otera and Jinja. Besides, while at least one priest lives in the precincts of Otera, that doesn’t necessarily apply to Jinja.
2. Torii Gate
The Torii Gate of a Jinja Shinto Shrine
As a difference in outward appearance, while the Jinja shrine definitely has at least one gateway called “Torii (鳥居)” in its grounds, the Otera temple doesn’t have the unique-shaped gate (mostly red-colored) Torii.
Graves in the grounds of Otera
As another difference in outward appearance between Otera and Jinja, while there are graves, more or less, in the grounds of Otera, Jinja shrines don’t have any graves.
The name of Otera Buddhist temples mostly ends with the word “寺”, like “Senso-ji (浅草寺)”, “Todai-ji (東大寺)”, and “Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺)”, while the name of Jinja Shinto shrines ends with either “社” or “宮”.