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Japan's Shinto Shrines in Crisis Despite Abe Pushing Religion

  • Obama, Cameron set to visit Japan’s most sacred spiritual site
  • Some 41% of Japan’s 80,000 cash-strapped shrines may vanish
Priests participate in the 'Sengyo no Gi' at Ise Jingu Shrine.
Photographer: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

In Japan, the Ise Grand Shrine is considered one of the holiest sites in the Shinto religion, a faith whose rituals have been woven into the nation’s culture for centuries. Located more than 300 kilometers (190 miles) southwest of Tokyo, the historic complex of wooden buildings set in a deep forest is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu, from whom Japan’s emperors are said to be descended.

Ise Jingu, as it is known in Japanese, is also fraught with political meaning this week for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who hosts a Group of Seven summit on the nearby and secluded Kashiko Island. Despite constitutional restrictions, Abe would like to see the indigenous religion play a more prominent role in Japanese society.