Shinto Architecture

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The architecture of the 80,000 Shinto shrines in Japan varies depending on geographical location, the deity worshipped, and the date of foundation. The earlier Shinto shrines tend to be simpler and less decorative affairs than those which came after the introduction of Buddhism and Chinese architectural styles in Japan from the 8th century CE onwards. Later shrines are brightly painted and have more sculptural elements, but there are many common features to all Shinto shrine complexes from the distinctive torii gateways to the gently sloping gabled roofs of even the smallest structures. In addition, balance and harmony with natural surroundings and an aesthetic of elegant understatement were always essential considerations for the ancient Japanese architect charged with creating a home on earth for the spirit of one or more of the Shinto gods.

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