Shakaku (社格)

Shakaku is a ranking system for Shinto shrines. It was established by the Imperial Court based on the unity of religion and politics.

The Ancient Times Shakaku System

Amatsu-jashiro Shrine
A shrine venerating Amatsu-kami (god)

Kunitsu-yashiro Shrine
A shrine venerating Kunitsu-kami (god)

The Ancient Times/Middle Ages Shakaku System

The Shakaku System Based on the Engi-shiki
Shrines that were listed in the Engi-shiki Jimmyo-cho are called Shikinaisha; while those that clearly existed at the time but were not listed in it are called Shikigesha. The Shikinaisha are those shrines were entitled to offerings at Kinen-sai; there were 2,861 of them listed. This signifies that the Imperial Court placed importance on these shrines at the time. Those that enshrine Myojin (gods), long thought to have a remarkably miraculous efficacy, are all included in the Shikinaisha, and are calledMyojin Taisha Shrine (Myojidai).

TheKanpei-sha Shrine are the shrines that received offerings from the Jingikan (the Department of Divinities); and the Kokuhei-sha Shrine are those that received offerings from the Kokushi (local governors). Each shrine was ranked by Major (dai) and Minor (sho). At first all shrines got offerings directly from the Jingikan; but because it took time to travel to shrines in distant districts, the Kokushi began to conduct offerings on behalf of the Jingikan, creating the distinction between Kanpeisha and Kokuheisha. However, some important shrines became Kanpeisha, even if they were in distant districts.

The order of Shakaku is as follows.

Kanpei-taisha Shrine

Kokuhei-taisha Shrine

Kanpei-shosha Shrine

Kokuhei-shosha Shrine

Ichinomiya was the most powerful shrine in the country of Ryo-sei (the political system based on the ritsuryo codes). When a Kokushi began his appointment, he had to make a pilgrimage to the shrines(called Sinpai) in his district. The most influential shrine in the district came to be called Ichinomiya, as it was the first that he would visit; some districts had Ninomiya and also Sannomiya. As there were no clear criteria, it changed throughout history, according to the ups and downs of the shrines. It began in the provinces in the late Heian period, and was eventually established in the Kinai area too.

Because it took the Kokushi a long time to visit all of the shrines in the district, they were enshrined together in the vicinity of provincial government offices. It was called Soja.

Kokushi-hoheisha Shrine
The Kokushi Hoheisha are the shrines that are listed in Kokunai Jimmyo-cho of each district. Kokunai Jimmyo-cho is a list of the shrines that the Kokushi visited when he made his pilgrimage. However, these are only remaining from a few districts, and even most of them are copies or excerpts; there is no accurate account of which shrines were included, or total numbers.

Nijunisha (22 Shrines)
The Nijunisha (Myojin Nijunisha) are 22 influential shrines that the Imperial Court presented offerings when their country was in a serious state.

Kokushi-kenzaisha Shrine
The Kokushi Kenzaisha are the shrines that are listed in the Rokkokushi. Also known as Kokushi-genzaisha Shrine or Kokushi-shosaisha Shrine. However, because most Shikinaisha are Kokushi Kenzaisha, the term of Kokushi Kenzaisha is used for Shikigesha.

The Modern Times Shakaku System

The Modern Times Shakaku System is the system that was made anew based on the Engi-shiki after the Meiji Restoration. It was abolished after the 2nd World War by General Headquarters' Shinto Shirei program. Refer to The Modern Times Shakaku System for details.

The ranking order of the Modern Times Shakaku System was as follows.

Kankoku-heisha Shrine (Kansha)

Kanpei Taisha

Kokuhei Taisha

Kanpei-chusha Shrine

Kokuhei-chusha Shrine

Kanpei Shosha

Kokuhei Shosha

Bekkaku-kanpeisha Shrine

Shosha (Minsha)





In addition to the Modern Times Shakaku System above, the following system was established.

Chokusai-sha Shrine
Tokyojussha/Tokyo Ten Shrines (Jun-Chokusaisha)
Gokoku Jinja (shrine) designated by the Home Minister (Gokoku Jinja under the protection of the government)

The Current System

The Jinja-Honcho designates some of the influential shrines that it oversees as Beppyo-Jinja Shrine.

Related Articles




List of Shinto Shrines


[Original Japanese]