A building at Ise Shrine

Shinmei shrines (Japanese: 神明神社, lit.'Shrine of deity') are shrines dedicated to the worship of the Japanese solar deity Amaterasu. The head Shinmei shrine is Ise Grand Shrine which inspired the Shinmei-zukuri architectural style.


The solar goddess of Shinto, Amaterasu Omikami, is considered to be the ancestral deity of the Imperial House of Japan, and is widely worshiped in agricultural rituals. During the Kofun Period, a number of Shinmei Shrines, such as Ise Grand Shrine, were constructed and dedicated to Amaterasu. In national rituals, only the emperor was permitted to make offerings towards the deity.[1]

However, as the power of the imperial court declined in the middle of the Heian Period, the central government could no longer financially support the Shinmei Shrines. As a result, the responsibilities of their maintenance fell onto local feudal lords, who were also given the right to relay prayers. Local lords donated part of their own estates (Shōen) as Shinryo (Japanese: 神領, lit.'Domain of gods') to construct shrines dedicated to Amaterasu, including Nishina Shinmei Shrine in Ōmachi, Shinmei Shrine in Yokohama, and Amatsu Shinmei Shrine in Kamogawa. Some of the Shinmei Shrines, such as the Shiba Great Shrine, were said to have predated the Shōen System.[2]

The priests of Shinmei Shrines, also known as Oshi (Japanese: 御師, lit.'Royal teacher'), temporarily enshrined the talisman Jingū Taima in their branch offices in the eastern part of Japan, and some of these offices later developed into Shinmei Shrines as well.[3]

During the Kamakura and later Muromachi Periods, Oshi's influence began to spread among both high-ranking samurai class and the common people.[4] Especially in Kyoto, an increasing number of shrines outside of the traditional Shinryo were given permission by Oshi to enshrine Amaterasu. These shrines came to be known as "Imashinmei" (Japanese: 今神明, lit.'Current Shinmei') or "Hishinmei" (Japanese: 飛神明, lit.'Flying Shinmei').[5] In the Edo Period, the Ise faith became even more popular, spreading throughout the country and permeating a wide range of social classes.[6] In 1632, Ise Shrine published the Ise Calendar in 1632, which recorded dates for agricultural activities and was widely used before the Meiji Restoration.[7] As the influence of Ise Shrine and its deity Amaterasu grew, the number of Shinmei Shrines increased further.

Major shrines

Major Shimei Shrines can be seen in the following table:

Region Location Shrine Name (ja) Shrine Name (en)
Hokkaido Hakodate 山上大神宮 Yamanoue Great Shrine
Hokkaido Ashibetsu 蘆別神社 Ashibetsu Shrine
Hokkaido Matsumae 徳山大神宮 Tokuyama Great Shrine
Hokkaido Esashi 姥神大神宮 Ubagami Great Shrine
Tōhoku Goshogawara, Aomori 神明宮 Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Ichinoseki, Iwate 御嶽山御嶽神明社 Ontakesan Ontake Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Ōshū, Iwate 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Sendai, Miyagi 櫻岡大神宮 Sakura Gaoka Great Shrine
Tōhoku Misato, Miyagi 木間塚神明社 Kimatsuka Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Shiroishi, Miyagi 神明社 Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Akita, Akita 土崎神明社 Tsuchizaki Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Ōdate, Akita 大館神明社 Ōdate Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Ōdate, Akita 扇田神明社 Ōgita Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Semboku, Akita 角馆总镇树神明社 Kakunodate Sōchinju Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Gojōme, Akita 五城目神明社 Gojōme Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Yamagata, Yamagata 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Tōhoku Kōriyama, Fukushima 開成山大神宮 Kaiseizan Great Shrine
Kantō Itako, Ibaraki 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Tochigi, Tochigi 神明宫 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Tokorozawa, Saitama 所澤神明社 Tokorozawa Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Sōka, Saitama 神明宫 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Hannō, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Ageo, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Kuki, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Satte, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Hasunuma, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Minaminakamaru, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Mikura, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Tsukamoto, Saitama 神明神社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Kagiage, Saitama 神明社 Shinmei Shrine
Kantō Torochō, Saitama 神明社 Shinmei Shrine


  1. ^ Nishigaki 1983, p.28
  2. ^ Kawamori 1985, pp.80-83
  3. ^ Nishigaki 1983, pp.162-164
  4. ^ Nishigaki 1983, p.114
  5. ^ Seta 1985, pp.290-291
  6. ^ Shinjo 1949, p.144
  7. ^ Nishigaki 1983, pp.156-157