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“The number of Shinto shrines in Japan has changed over centuries due to various political and social changes. There were about 190,000 shrines during the early Meiji Era (1867-1912), before a drastic change came about in the merging of shrines and temples. The number of shrines was greatly reduced, and now there are only around 80,000. That’s not much more than the number of convenience stores across Japan.”

This is how Tsunekiyo Tanaka, president of Jinja Honcho (Association of Shinto Shrines) began a lecture — with a little humor. Established after World War II, Jinja Honcho was created to supervise Shinto shrines throughout in Japan, and Tanaka was speaking at a recent special public event hosted by “The Grand Exhibition of Sacred Treasures from Shinto Shrines” at the Tokyo National Museum.

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