Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Early Japan and Korea

What is the Ise Shrine?

The Ise Shrine is an important Shinto complex in Japan dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu, ancestor of the Japanese emperors. Known as “the Way of the Gods,” Shinto may be considered a religion or a philosophy and is indigenous to Japan. Water purification rituals and worship of animistic local deities known as kami are fundamental aspects of Shinto. The Ise complex features a main shrine which has a thatched roof and is raised off the ground with wooden pilings. Made of unpainted cypress wood, the shrine’s style reflects natural simplicity. Historically, only members of the Japanese Imperial family were allowed worship in Ise’s interior sanctuary. Every twenty years, the main shrine is completely rebuilt on the site, an important political and religious ritual.


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