A ""Jinja"" is the place to pay respects to the Kami-sama that live in every corner of every region of Japan, and is the current place that each region's form of ""Shinto"" is still alive and cherished. It is said that there are over 80,000 jinja, large and small, throughout Japan, each with a different Kami-sama, and a different history and story.
The Torii (the archway in front of shrines, most commonly stone or red), the Sando (sacred walkway) just beyond it, and the Shaden (the main building) are three characteristics of a Jinja. The Torii is the entrance, and is essentially an open space that represents the tolerance that Shinto has of accepting any and every one. The reason many Japanese people have trouble answering when asked ""What religion are you?"", lies in the fact that the Japanese don't have the notion of Shinto being a ""religion"", but rather a ""culture"" that they live from day to day. That is exactly why they don't view Jinja as a religious place, but rather as something that is close to a certain region's people and their lifestyle. It has become a place where locals go to pay regular visits, to pray or make wishes or even show their gratitude at special times in their life. For most parts, each Jinja provides Go-riyaku (the grace or blessings from Kami-sama), in return for paying respects when visiting, however the type of grace or good fortune one receives depends on the Kami-sama that is honored at that particular place.
Insight on Shintoism from Florian Wiltschko
Born in 1987, in Linz, Austria.
From a very young age, Wiltschko took an interest in Japan and gained knowledge through reading. When he was 14, he came to Japan on a family vacation for the first time, and visited many Shrines and Temples, which raised his level of interest even more. In 2007, he entered the Ueno Tenmangu Shrine in Nagoya, and studied about Shinto priesthood while living there. Upon returning home, and graduating from Vienna University in Japanese Studies, he moved to Japan for good and entered Kokugakuin University and majored in Shinto Studies. After graduating from his special training in 2012, he was appointed "gon-negi" (lowest ranking priest) at the Konno Hachimangu Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo, fulfilling the position for 4 years. From May of 2016, he will continue his priesthood at Nobeno Shrine in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture.