Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, rushes, heather, or palm branches, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. Since the bulk of the vegetation stays dry and is densely packed—trapping air—thatching functions as insulation, it is a old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates. Thatch is still employed by builders in developing countries with low-cost local vegetation. By contrast, in some developed countries it is the choice of some affluent people who desire a rustic look for their home, would like a more ecologically friendly roof, or who have purchased an thatched abode. Thatching methods have traditionally been passed down from generation to generation, numerous descriptions of the materials and methods used in Europe over the past three centuries survive in archives and early publications. In some equatorial countries, thatch is the prevalent local material for roofs, walls.
There are diverse building techniques from the ancient Hawaiian hale shelter made from the local ti leaves, lauhala or pili grass. Palm leaves are often used. For example, in Na Bure, thatchers combine fan palm leave roofs with layered reed walls. Feathered palm leaf roofs are used in Dominica. Alang-alang thatched roofs are used in Bali. In Southeast Asia, mangrove nipa palm leaves are used as thatched roof material known as attap dwelling. In Bali, the black fibres of Arenga pinnata called ijuk is used as thatched roof materials used in Balinese temple roof and meru towers. Sugar cane leaf roofs are used in Kikuyu tribal homes in Kenya. Wild vegetation such as water reed, bulrush/cat tail, broom and rushes was used to cover shelters and primitive dwellings in Europe in the late Palaeolithic period, but so far no direct archaeological evidence for this has been recovered. People began to use straw in the Neolithic period when they first grew cereals—but once again, no direct archaeological evidence of straw for thatching in Europe prior to the early medieval period survives.
Many indigenous people of the Americas, such as the former Maya civilization, the Inca empire, the Triple Alliance, lived in thatched buildings. It is common to spot thatched buildings in rural areas of the Yucatán Peninsula as well as many settlements in other parts of Latin America, which resemble the method of construction from distant ancestors. After the collapse of most extant American societies due to diseases introduced by Europeans, wars and genocide, the first Americans encountered by Europeans lived in structures roofed with bark or skin set in panels that could be added or removed for ventilation and cooling. Evidence of the many complex buildings with fiber-based roofing material was not rediscovered until the early 2000s. French and British settlers built temporary thatched dwellings with local vegetation as soon as they arrived in New France and New England, but covered more permanent houses with wooden shingles. In most of England, thatch remained the only roofing material available to the bulk of the population in the countryside, in many towns and villages, until the late 1800s.
Commercial distribution of Welsh slate began in 1820, the mobility provided by canals and railways made other materials available. Still, the number of thatched properties increased in the UK during the mid-1800s as agriculture expanded, but declined again at the end of the 19th century because of agricultural recession and rural depopulation. A 2013 report estimated. Thatch became a mark of poverty, the number of thatched properties declined, as did the number of professional thatchers. Thatch has become much more popular in the UK over the past 30 years, is now a symbol of wealth rather than poverty. There are 1,000 full-time thatchers at work in the UK, thatching is becoming popular again because of the renewed interest in preserving historic buildings and using more sustainable building materials. Although thatch is popular in Germany, The Netherlands, parts of France, Sicily and Ireland, there are more thatched roofs in the United Kingdom than in any other European country. Good quality straw thatch can last for more than 50 years.
Traditionally, a new layer of straw was applied over the weathered surface, this "spar coating" tradition has created accumulations of thatch over 7’ thick on old buildings. The straw is bundled into "yelms" before it is taken up to the roof and is attached using staples, known as "spars", made from twisted hazel sticks. Over 250 roofs in Southern England have base coats of thatch that were applied over 500 years ago, providing direct evidence of the types of materials that were used for thatching in the medieval period. All of these roofs are thatched with wheat, rye, or a "maslin" mixture of both. Medieval wheat grew to 6 feet tall in poor soils and produced durable straw for the roof and grain for baking bread. Technological change in the farming industry affected the popularity of thatching; the availability of good quality thatching straw declined in England after the introduction of the combine harvester in the late 1930s and 1940s, the release of short-stemm
Shoin-zukuri is a style of Japanese residential architecture used in the mansions of the military, temple guest halls, Zen abbot's quarters of the Azuchi–Momoyama and Edo periods. It forms the basis of today's traditional-style Japanese house. Characteristics of the shoin-zukuri development were the incorporation of square posts and floors covered with tatami; the style takes its name from the shoin, a term that meant a study and a place for lectures on the sūtra within a temple, but which came to mean just a drawing room or study. The foundations for the design of today's traditional Japanese residential houses with tatami floors were established in the late Muromachi period and refined during the ensuing Momoyama period. Shoin-zukuri, a new architectural style influenced by Zen Buddhism, developed during that time from the shinden-zukuri of the earlier Heian period's palaces and the subsequent residential style favored by the warrior class during the Kamakura period; the term shoin, meaning study or drawing room has been used to denote reception rooms in residences of the military elite as well as study rooms at monasteries.
A shoin has a core area surrounded by aisles, smaller areas separated by fusuma sliding doors, or shōji partitions constructed of paper on a wooden frame or wooden equivalents and sugido. The main reception room is characterized by specific features: a recessed alcove; the reception room is covered with wall-to-wall tatami, has square beveled pillars, a coved or coffered ceiling, wooden shutters protecting the area from rain. The entrance hall emerged as an element of residential architecture during the Momoyama period; the oldest extant shoin style building is the Tōgu-dō at Ginkaku-ji dating from 1485. Other representative examples of early shoin style called shuden, include two guest halls at Mii-dera. In the early Edo period, shoin-zukuri reached its peak and spread beyond the residences of the military elite; the more formal shoin-style of this period is apparent in the characteristics of Ninomaru Palace at Nijō Castle as well as the shoin at Nishi Hongan-ji. Conrad Totman argues that the development of the shoin-zukuri style was linked to a lumber scarcity, caused by excessive deforestation, which prompted the use of lower-quality, more abundant material.
As larger, straight-grained trees became less accessible, "elegant wooden flooring gave way to crude wooden under-flooring, concealed beneath tatami." Sliding wooden doors were replaced with fusuma, a lightweight combination of "stiff fabric or cardboard-like material pasted onto a frame made of slender wooden sticks," and shōji sliding panels served as a substitute for more elaborate paneled wooden doors. The simpler style used in the architecture of tea houses for the tea ceremony developed in parallel with shoin-zukuri. In the 16th century Sen no Rikyū established dedicated "grass hut" style teahouses characterized by their small size of two to eight mat, the use of natural materials, rustic appearance; this teahouse style, exemplified by the Joan and Taian teahouses, was influenced by Japanese farmhouse style and the shoin style featuring tatami matted floors, recessed alcoves and one or more ante chambers for preparations. By the beginning of the Edo period, the features of the shoin and the teahouse styles began to blend.
The result was an informal version of the shoin style called sukiya-zukuri. The sukiya-zukuri style has a characteristic decorative alcove and shelf, utilizes woods such as cedar, hemlock and cypress with rough surfaces including the bark. Compared to the shoin style's, roof eaves in the sukiya style bend downward. While the shoin style was suitable for ceremonial architecture, it became too imposing for residential buildings; the less formal sukiya style was used for the mansions of the aristocracy and samurai after the beginning of the Edo period. List of National Treasures of Japan Nishi, Kazuo. What is Japanese architecture?. Kodansha International. ISBN 4-7700-1992-0. Retrieved 2009-11-11. Young, David; the art of Japanese architecture. Architecture and Interior Design. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3838-0. Retrieved 2009-11-11
A Shinto shrine is a structure whose main purpose is to house one or more kami. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects, not for worship. Although only one word is used in English, in Japanese Shinto shrines may carry any one of many different, non-equivalent names like gongen, -gū, jingū, mori, myōjin, -sha, ubusuna or yashiro. Structurally, a Shinto shrine is characterized by the presence of a honden or sanctuary, where the kami is enshrined; the honden may however be absent, as for example when the shrine stands on a sacred mountain to which it is dedicated, and, worshiped directly. The honden may be missing when there are nearby altar-like structures called himorogi or objects believed capable of attracting spirits called yorishiro that can serve as a direct bond to a kami. There may be a haiden and other structures as well. However, a shrine's most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects rather than for worship. Miniature shrines can be found on roadsides.
Large shrines sometimes have on their precincts miniature shrines. The portable shrines which are carried on poles during festivals enshrine kami and are therefore true shrines. In 927 CE, the Engi-shiki was promulgated; this work listed all of the 2,861 Shinto shrines existing at the time, the 3,131 official-recognized and enshrined Kami. That number has grown and exceeded this figure through the following generations. In Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan placed the number of shrines at 79,467 affiliated with the Association of Shinto Shrines; some shrines, such as the Yasukuni Shrine are independent of any outside authority. The number of Shinto shrines in Japan is estimated to be around 100,000; this figure may, or may not, include private shrines in homes and owned by small groups, abandoned or derelict shrines, roadside Hokora. etc. Ancestors are kami to be worshiped. Yayoi-period village councils sought the advice of ancestors and other kami, developed instruments to evoke them. Yoshishiro means "approach substitute" and were conceived to attract the kami to allow them physical space, thus making kami accessible to human beings.
Village-council sessions were held in quiet spots in the mountains or in forests near great trees or other natural objects that served as yorishiro. These sacred places and their yorishiro evolved into today's shrines, whose origins can be still seen in the Japanese words for "mountain" and "forest", which can mean "shrine". Many shrines have on their grounds one of the original great yorishiro: a big tree, surrounded by a sacred rope called shimenawa; the first buildings at places dedicated to worship were huts built to house some yorishiro. A trace of this origin can be found in the term hokura, "deity storehouse", which evolved into hokora, is considered to be one of the first words for shrine. True shrines arose with the beginning of agriculture, when the need arose to attract kami to ensure good harvests; these were, just temporary structures built for a particular purpose, a tradition of which traces can be found in some rituals. Hints of the first shrines can still be found there. Ōmiwa Shrine in Nara, for example, contains no sacred images or objects because it is believed to serve the mountain on which it stands.
Those images or objects are therefore unnecessary. For the same reason, it has a worship hall but no place to house the kami. Archeology confirms that, during the Yayoi period, the most common shintai in the earliest shrines were nearby mountain peaks that supplied stream water to the plains where people lived. Besides the mentioned Ōmiwa Shrine, another important example is Mount Nantai, a phallus-shaped mountain in Nikko which constitutes Futarasan Shrine's shintai; the name Nantai means "man's body". The mountain not only provides water to the rice paddies below but has the shape of the phallic stone rods found in pre-agricultural Jōmon sites. In 905 CE, Emperor Daigo ordered a compilation of Shinto rules. Previous attempts at codification are known to have taken place, neither the Konin nor the Jogan Gishiki survive. Under the direction of Fujiwara no Tokihira, the project stalled at his death in April 909. Fujiwara no Tadahira, his brother, took charge and in 912 CE and in 927 CE the Engi-shiki was promulgated in fifty volumes.
This, the first formal codification of Shinto rites and Norito to survive, became the basis for all subsequent Shinto liturgical practice and efforts. In addition to the first ten volumes of this fifty volume work, sections in subsequent volumes addressing the Ministry of Ceremonies and the Ministry of the Imperial Household regulated Shinto worship and contained liturgical rites and regulation. Felicia Gressitt Brock published a two-volume annotated English language translation of the first ten volumes with an introduction entitled Engi-shiki; the arrival of Buddhism changed the situation, introducing to Japan the concept of the permanent shrine. A great number of Buddhist temples were built next to existing shrines in mixed complexes called jingū-ji (神宮寺, lit. shri
. Kibitsu-zukuri, kibi-zukuri or hiyoku irimoya-zukuri is a traditional Japanese Shinto architectural style characterized by four dormer gables, two per lateral side, on the roof of a large honden; the gables are set at a right angle to the main roof ridge, the honden is part of a single complex including a haiden. Kibitsu Shrine in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, Japan is the sole example of the style, although the Soshi-dō of Hokekyō-ji in Chiba prefecture is believed to have been modeled on it; the T-shaped shrine is composed of two buildings: the haiden or prayer hall, in the front, the honden or sanctuary, in the back, both under the same roof and joined by a short stairway. Both buildings show the clear influence of Buddhist architecture, as they include features of all major styles, Daibutsuyō, Zenshūyō and Wayō; the honden, which shows strong daibutsuyō influences, is large, measuring 14.64 x 17.99 m, or 5 x 8 x 7 bays, with bays of a different length according to their position. The honden's interior has a complex structure, being divided in six separate sections joined by six different stairways.
At the center of the honden are two sanctuaries, the nai-naijin which measures 3 x 2 bays, the naijin, which measures 3 x 1 bays. The two sanctuaries are surrounded on all sides by two corridors called the gejin. Between the chūjin and the gejin lies a 5 x 1 bay space called kōhai-no-ma called ake-no-dan; the closer one gets to the higher the floor and the ceiling. The ceiling's structure itself changes, as most of the chūjin and the entire gejin have no ceiling, the roof is therefore exposed, whereas other sections have ceilings of different types; the nainaijin for example lies below the gables. The whole area is decorated with black lacquer; the honden is connected in the front to the haiden by a short stairway. The haiden's core is just 3 x 1 bays, but it is surrounded on three sides by a 1-bay wide mokoshi, bringing the building's external dimensions to 4 x 4 bays. Both entrances to the haiden are on the gabled side. Together with the outsize honden, the most visible feature of the shrine are the twin gables on both sides of the roof.
This style of roof, called hiyoku irimoya-zukuri, or "paired wing, hip-and-gable roof style", consists of two ridges at a right angle to the main roof which end in two dormer gables
Buddhist temples in Japan
Buddhist temples, together with Shinto shrines, are considered to be amongst the most numerous and important religious buildings in Japan. The shogunates or leaders of Japan have made it a priority to update and rebuild Buddhist temples since the Momoyama period; the Japanese word for a Buddhist temple is tera, the same kanji has the pronunciation ji, so that temple names end in -dera or -ji. Another ending, -in, is used to refer to minor temples; such famous temples as Kiyomizu-dera, Enryaku-ji, Kōtoku-in are temples which use the described naming pattern. In Japan, Buddhist temples co-exist with Shinto shrines, both share the basic features of Japanese traditional architecture. Both Torii and rōmon mark the entrance to a shrine as well as temples although torii is associated with Shinto and Romon is associated with Buddhism; some shrines, for example Iwashimizu Hachiman-gū, have a Buddhist-style main gate called sōmon. Many temples have a komainu, like a shrine. Conversely, some shrines have a shōrō belltower.
Others – for example, Tanzan Jinja in Nara – may have a pagoda. Similarities between temples and shrines are functional. Like a shrine, a Buddhist temple is not a place of worship: its most important buildings are used for the safekeeping of sacred objects, are not accessible to worshipers. Unlike a Christian church, a temple is a monastery. There are specialized buildings for certain rites, but these are open only to a limited number of participants. Religious mass gatherings do not take place with regularity as with Christian religions, are in any event not held inside the temple. If many people are involved in a ceremony, it will assume a festive character and will be held outdoors; the architectural elements of a Buddhist temple are meant to embody themes and teachings of Buddhism. The reason for the great structural resemblances between the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines lies in their common history; when Shintoism first encountered Buddhism it became more interpretive as it did not try to explain the universe as Buddhism sometimes tried to.
It is in fact normal for a temple to have been a shrine, in architectural terms, obvious differences between the two are therefore few, so much so that only a specialist can see them. Many visitors visit Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines for similar reasons such as prayer and for luck; the two religions coexist due increased the birth of new religions. Shrines enshrining local kami existed long before the arrival of Buddhism, but they consisted either of demarcated land areas without any building or of temporary shrines, erected when needed. With the arrival of Buddhism in Japan in the 6th century, shrines were subjected to its influence and adopted both the concept of permanent structures and the architecture of Buddhist temples; the successive development of shinbutsu-shūgō and of the honji suijaku theory brought to the complete fusion of kami worship and Buddhism. It became normal for shrines to be accompanied by temples in mixed complexes called jingū-ji or miyadera; the opposite was common: most temples had at least a small shrine dedicated to its tutelary kami, were therefore called jisha.
The Meiji era's eliminated most jingūji, but left jisha intact, so much so that today most temples have at least one, sometimes large, shrine on their premises and Buddhist goddess Benzaiten is worshiped at Shinto shrines. As a consequence, for centuries shrines and temples had a symbiotic relationship where each influenced the other. Shrines took from Buddhism its gates, the use of a hall for lay worshipers, the use of vermilion-colored wood and more, while Chinese Buddhist architecture was adapted to Japanese tastes with more asymmetrical layouts, greater use of natural materials, an adaptation of the monastery to the pre-existing natural environment; the clear separation between Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, which today is the norm, emerges only as a result of the shinbutsu bunri law of 1868. This separation was mandated by law, many shrine-temples were forced to become just shrines, among them famous ones like Usa Hachiman-gū and Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū; because mixing the two religions was now forbidden, jingūji had to give away some of their properties or dismantle some of their buildings, thus damaging the integrity of their cultural heritage and decreasing the historical and economic value of their properties.
For example, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū's giant Niō, being objects of Buddhist worship and therefore illegal where they were, were sold to Jufuku-ji, where they still are. The shrine-temple had to destroy Buddhism-related buildings, for example its tahōtō, its midō, its shichidō garan. Buddhist architecture in Japan is not native, but imported from China and other Asian cultures over the centuries with such constancy that the building styles of all Six Dynasties are represented, its history is, as a consequence, dominated by Chinese and other Asian techniques and styles on one side, by Japanese original variations on those themes on the other. Due to the variety of climates in Japan and the millennium encompassed between the first cultural import and the last, the result is heterogeneous, but several universal features can be found nonetheless. First of all is the choice of materials, always
Mon monshō, kamon, are Japanese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual, a family, or an institution or business entity. While mon is an encompassing term that may refer to any such device and mondokoro refer to emblems used to identify a family. An authoritative mon reference compiles Japan's 241 general categories of mon based on structural resemblance, with 5116 distinct individual mon; the devices are similar to the badges and coats of arms in European heraldic tradition, which are used to identify individuals and families. Mon are referred to as crests in Western literature, another European heraldic device similar to the mon in function. Mon may have originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership of a specific clan or organization. By the twelfth century, sources give a clear indication that heraldry had been implemented as a distinguishing feature for use in battle, it is seen on flags and equipment. Like European heraldry, mon were held only by aristocratic families, were adapted by commoners.
On the battlefield, mon served as army standards though this usage was not universal and uniquely designed army standards were just as common as mon-based standards. Mon were adapted by various organizations, such as merchant and artisan guilds and shrines, theater troupes and criminal gangs. In an illiterate society, they served as useful symbols for recognition. Japanese traditional formal attire displays the mon of the wearer. Commoners without mon used those of their patron or the organization they belonged to. In cases when none of those were available, they sometimes used one of the few mon which were seen as "vulgar", or invented or adapted whatever mon they wished, passing it on to their descendants, it was not uncommon for shops, therefore shop-owners, to develop mon to identify themselves. Rules regulating the choice and use of mon were somewhat limited, though the selection of mon was determined by social customs, it was considered improper to use a mon, known to be held by someone else, offensive to use a mon, held by someone of a high rank.
When mon came into conflict, the lower-ranked person sometimes changed their mon to avoid offending their superior. The mon held by the ruling clans of Japan, such as Tokugawa's hollyhock mon and the Emperor's chrysanthemum mon, were protected from unauthorized usage. Patron clans granted the use of their mon to their retainers as a reward. Similar to the granting of the patron's surnames, this was considered a high honor. Alternatively, the patron clan may have added elements of its mon to that of its retainer, or chosen an different mon for them. There are no set rules in the design of a mon. Most consist of a roundel encircling a figure of plant, man-made, natural or celestial objects, all abstracted to various degrees. Religious symbols, geometric shapes and kanji were used as well. Similar to the blazon in European heraldry, mon are named by the content of the design though there is no set rule for such names. Unlike in European heraldry, this "blazon" is not prescriptive—the depiction of a mon does not follow the name—instead the names only serve to describe the mon.
The pictorial depictions of the mon are not formalized and small variations of what is supposed to be the same mon can sometimes be seen, but the designs are for the most part standardized through time and tradition. The degree of variation tolerated differ from mon to mon as well. For example, the paulownia crest with 5-7-5 leaves is reserved for the prime minister, whereas paulownia with fewer leaves could be used by anyone; the imperial chrysanthemum specifies 16 petals, whereas chrysanthemum with fewer petals are used by other lesser imperial family members. Japanese heraldry does not have a cadency or quartering system, but it is not uncommon for cadet branches of a family to choose a different mon from the senior branch; each princely family, for example, uses a modified chrysanthemum crest as their mon. Mon holders may combine their mon with that of their patron, benefactor or spouse, sometimes creating complicated designs. Mon are monochrome. All modern Japanese families have a mon, but unlike before the Meiji Restoration when rigid social divisions existed, mon play a more specialized role in everyday life.
On occasions when the use of a mon is required, one can try to look up their families in the temple registries of their ancestral hometown or consult one of the many genealogical publications available. Many websites offer mon lookup services. Professional wedding planners and other "ritual masters" may offer guidance on finding the proper mon. Mon are seen on stores and shops engaged in traditional crafts and specialties, they are favored by sushi restaurants, which incorporate a mon into their logos. Mon designs can be seen on the ceramic roof tiles of older houses. Mon designs decorate senbei, sake and other packaging for food products to lend them an air of elegance and tradition; the paulownia mon appears on the obverse side of the 500 yen coin. Items symbolizing family crafts, arts or professions were chosen as a mon. A fan design might be chosen by a geisha. A woman may still wear her maiden mon
Ise Grand Shrine
The Ise Grand Shrine, located in the city of Ise, Mie Prefecture of Japan, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. Known as Jingū, Ise Jingū is a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikū and Gekū; the Inner Shrine, Naikū, is located in the town of Uji-tachi, south of central Ise, is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu, where she is believed to dwell. The shrine buildings instead joined wood; the Outer Shrine, Gekū, is located about six kilometers from Naikū and dedicated to Toyouke-Ōmikami, the god of agriculture, rice harvest and industry. Besides Naikū and Gekū, there are an additional 123 Shinto shrines in Ise City and the surrounding areas, 91 of them connected to Naikū and 32 to Gekū. Purportedly the home of the Sacred Mirror, the shrine is one of Shinto's holiest and most important sites. Access to both sites is limited, with the common public not allowed beyond sight of the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind four tall wooden fences.
However, tourists are free to roam the forest, including its ornamental walkways after Meiji period. During the Edo period, it is estimated that one out of ten Japanese conducted an Okage Mairi pilgrimage to the shrine. Accordingly, pilgrimage to the shrine flourished in both religious frequency; because the shrine is considered sanctuary, no security checkpoints were conducted, as it was considered sacrilege by the faithful. The two main shrines of Ise are joined by a pilgrimage road that passes through the old entertainment district of Furuichi; the chief priest or priestess of Ise Shrine must come from the Imperial House of Japan and is responsible for watching over the Shrine. The current high priestess of the shrine is Sayako Kuroda. Around the 6th Century CE, the Yamato Court declared their lineage to Amaterasu, which created a connection between the court and Ise Shrine; this declaration of lineage would be a passed belief of the future emperors to come. According to the Nihon Shoki, around 2000 years ago the divine Yamatohime-no-mikoto, daughter of the Emperor Suinin, set out from Mt. Miwa in modern Nara Prefecture in search of a permanent location to worship the goddess Amaterasu, wandering for 20 years through the regions of Ohmi and Mino.
Her search brought her to Ise, in modern Mie Prefecture, where she is said to have established Naikū after hearing the voice of Amaterasu saying " is a secluded and pleasant land. In this land I wish to dwell." Before Yamatohime-no-mikoto's journey, Amaterasu had been worshiped at the imperial residence in Yamato briefly at Kasanui in the eastern Nara basin. When Princess Yamatohime-no-mikoto arrived at the village of Uji-tachi, she set up fifty bells to designate the area as enshrined for the goddess Amaterasu, why the river is called the Isuzu, or "fifty bells". Besides the traditional establishment date of 4 BCE, other dates of the 3rd and 5th centuries have been put forward for the establishment of Naikū and Gekū respectively; the first shrine building at Naikū was erected by Emperor Tenmu, with the first ceremonial rebuilding being carried out by his wife, Empress Jitō, in 692. The shrine was foremost among a group of shrines which became objects of imperial patronage in the early Heian period.
In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered imperial messengers to be sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were presented to 16 shrines including the Ise Shrine. From the late 7th century until the 14th century, the role of chief priestess of Ise Shrine was carried out by a female member of the Imperial House of Japan known as a saiō. According to the Man'yōshū, the first saiō to serve at the shrine was Princess Ōku, daughter of Emperor Tenmu, during the Asuka period. Mention of Ise Shrine's saiō is made in the Aoi and Yugao chapters of The Tale of Genji as well as in the 69th chapter of The Tales of Ise; the saiō system ended during the turmoil of the Nanboku-chō period. During the Empire of Japan and the establishment of State Shinto, the position of chief priest of the Ise Shrine was fulfilled by the reigning emperor and the Meiji, Taisho and Shōwa Emperors all played the role of chief priest during their reigns. Since the disestablishment of State Shinto during the Occupation of Japan, the offices of chief priest and most sacred priestess have been held by former members of the imperial family or their descendants.
The current chief priest of the shrine is adoptive son of Takatsukasa Kazuko. He succeeded Kitashirakawa Michihisa, a great-grandson of Emperor Meiji, in 2007. Takatsukasa Kazuko was succeeded by Ikeda Atsuko. In 2012, Ikeda was joined by her niece Sayako Kuroda, sole daughter of reigning Emperor Akihito, to serve as a high priestess under her. On 19 June 2017, Sayako replaced her aunt as supreme priestess; the architectural style of the Ise shrine is known as shinmei-zukuri, characterized by extreme simplicity and antiquity: its basic principles date back to the Kofun period. The shrine buildings use a special variant of this style called Yuitsu-shinmei-zukuri, which may not be used in the construction of any other shrine. Yuitsu-shinmei-zukuri style mimics the architectural features of early rice granaries; the old shrines are dismantled and new ones built on an adjacent site to exacting specifications every 20 years at exorbitant expense, so that the buildings will be forever new and forever ancient and original.
The present buildings, dating from 2013, are the 62nd iteration to date and