Besides man-made structures like buildings, statues and torii, another important element of a Shinto shrine is always a tree. Called shinboku 「神木」, “sacred tree", you can recognize it easily because it is always marked with a shimenawa sacred rope. The shinboku is the place where the kami spirits dwell, so it is strictly forbidden to cut or even to pollute these trees.
In many cases shinboku are also splendid specimens, dozens or even hundreds of years old, like this spectacular sugi from the Yuki Jinja on Mount Kurama, Kyoto.
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: