A small hokora in Kyoto. Though the hokora are usually categorized as Shintoist, they are often decorated with a swastika which in Japan is a symbol associated with Buddhism. In Kyoto especially, many hokora are actually dedicated to Kannon, a bodhisattva, rather than Shinto deities.
The character 祠

Hokora or hokura (祠 or 神庫) is a miniature Shinto shrine either found on the precincts of a larger shrine and dedicated to folk kami, or on a street side, enshrining kami not under the jurisdiction of any large shrine.[1] Dōsojin, minor kami protecting travelers from evil spirits, can for example be enshrined in a hokora.[1]

The term hokora, believed to have been one of the first Japanese words for Shinto shrine, evolved from hokura (神庫), literally meaning "kami repository", a fact that seems to indicate that the first shrines were huts built to house some yorishiro. [note 1][2]

See also


  1. ^ The word yorishiro (依り代) literally means approach substitute. Yorishiro were tools conceived to attract the kami and give them a physical space to occupy, thus making them accessible to human beings.


  1. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Shinto, Hokora. Accessed on December 14, 2009
  2. ^ Tamura, Yoshiro (2000). "The Birth of the Japanese nation". Japanese Buddhism - A Cultural History (First ed.). Tokyo: Kosei Publishing Company. p. 232 pages. ISBN 4-333-01684-3.