Ise Shrine

Date: 3rd or 1st century

medium: thatched reed and japanese cypress

Every 20 years, this building is taken down and rebuilt like a phoenix burning from its ashes. This process has historically been happening for around 2,000 years to display the structure’s vitality and strength that defies time with its image. The Emperor ordered his princess, Yamatohime-no-mikoto, to seek the most appropriate place to permanently enshrine and worship Amaterasu-Omikami during the 11th Emperor Suinin.  Later on, the princess received a revelation that Amaterasu-Omikami should be exalted and honored eternally in Ise after searching in many places. 

 Ise shrine’s architectural style is known as Shinnei-zukuri, which is characterized by extreme basic and simplicity; its basic style date back to the Kofun period.  Like many important architectural structures in Japan’s history, this building is raised off the ground. The shrine is built of Japanese cypress. And the roof is made up of thatched red with billets. The chigi, which are distinctive forked finials, on the roof of the Naikū are flat on top to create a distinction for the gender of the deity being represented for the female deity Amaterasu. These roofing styles interestingly predate Buddhist architecture in Japan. The Ise shrine is a pinnacle of ancient Japanese architecture that is standing today. 

Author: Zach Bandejas

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