Japan Atlas: Architecture 


Location: Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture

Rebuilt: in 1425

National Treasure buildings: Main building, Hall of worship 


With a distinctive roof, a shrine that still breathes a legend of driving out demons

Kibitsu Shrine is a guardian shrine for the Kibi Region (Okayama and Hiroshima Prefectures) in western Japan. It is important for the distinctive shape of its main building and as a leading example of large shrine architecture in Japan's middle ages. The main building and the hall of worship are designated as National Treasures. The main building of the shrine that you see today was rebuilt in 1425.

The adjoining double gables atop the main building give the roof the distinctive appearance of a bird that is spreading its wings.

As a shrine Kibitsu Shrine is among the largest. The scale of the main building in a shrine is indicated by the number of bays that you can count when viewing it from the front. For example, if you can count four posts across the front, it means that there are three bays between the posts. Such shrines are known as three-bay shrines. In Japan over 90% of shrines are single-bay shrines and nearly all of the rest are three-bay shrines, but Kibitsu Shrine is a seven-bay shrine (eight bays on the side).

The corridor that leads to the Hongu building by way of the Okamaden from the main building is built to follow the natural incline of the ground. The overall length of this corridor exceeds 400 m (440 yd.).

Kibitsu Shrine is dedicated to Prince Kibitsuhiko. He is the model for the legend of Momotaro (the Peach Boy), which is a famous Japanese folktale about a boy who exterminated ogres.

Photo: The main building in Kibitsu Shirine (Okayamaken Kanko Renmei)

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