I have been in Japan for three weeks now, and have seen and done so much. One of my goals coming to Japan was to see as many Shinto shrines (jinja) and Buddhist temples (odera) as possible, and I have made excellent progress in that goal. I've lost count on how many I've visited! There are so many variations in these religious sites. Some are massive complexes which house not only a main hall but also many other smaller buildings for the worship of other deities. Some Shinto shrines I have passed by while walking are tiny and look like they've been pressed into the space between multi-storied buildings on either side. Some have water basins for purification, some do not. Shinto shrines are distinguished by torii (gates) at their entrances, but even these vary from shrine to shrine. Some tower 30+ feet over me, and some I barely keep from knocking my head on. Something that surprised me greatly is that at some of the larger religious sites, there are Buddhist and Shinto places of worship in the same area! Despite all the variety of the shrines and temples, the one thing they all share is that they are beautifully designed. It is obvious that they were created by masters of architecture and carpentry, people who were truly devoted to their work. Shrine and temple grounds are always immaculately clean, which speaks to the diligence of the priests who maintain them. Though I don't follow either of these religions, I can still appreciated the beauty and complexity of these two faiths that have shaped Japan and its people for hundreds of years. Each building bleeds with history, and has motivated me greatly to learn as much as I can about the origins and significance of each and every shrine and temple I have had the privilege of journeying to during my journey in Japan.