The Main Shrine at Hakone Jinja

Last week, I started a virtual tour of Hakone Jinja (Shrine), one of my favorite Shintō shrines in Japan – and today, we continue that tour with a look at the shrine’s main courtyard and worship hall.

In some ways, the layout of Shintō shrines varies more than Buddhist temple architecture, in part because of the way Shintō attempts to integrate the shrine with the natural landscape. Hakone Jinja is no exception. The main courtyard, where the worship hall stands, sits uphill from the entrance. Because of the distance, and the fact that several paths lead up to the worship hall (meaning that people can reach the hall without passing by the fountain located near the primary entrance), the shrine has a second purification fountain in the main courtyard.

Like the one at the entrance, the fountain’s spouts are shaped like dragons.

To the left and right of the fountain, cloisters enclose the yard.

And guardian komainu stand guard over the entrance that leads to the worship hall itself. They wear a coat of moss that looks almost like fur.

I generally don’t photograph worship halls close up, out of respect for the sacred spaces. When I can photograph them from across a yard, I do – but in this case, the entry lies between the guardian statues, and is roofed and gated so I don’t have a clear image of the worship hall itself.

Even so, you can get a feel for the court, and the worship hall, from these images – and hopefully the lack of a clear one inspires you to travel to Hakone and see the shrine yourself!

Join me Wednesday as we travel from the courtyard back to the shore of Lake Ashi, for the view from the water gate!