In Japan, it is believed that all of nature is inhabited by kami (deities). Sun, moon, sea and river, mountains and valleys, fire, water, wind, rock and trees - all things are kami or the embodied form of kami.
Often called yaoyorozu no kami (the "eighty myriads of kami"), these deities provide humans with life, protection in manifold forms, and direction in the ways of right, not to mention providing the bounty of the four seasons - this is the essence of Shinto, the simple natural faith followed in Japan since more than ten-thousand years ago.
Jinja (shrines) are the sacred places where the kami are enshrined, and where their symbols (mirrors, craggy rocks, trees and other epiphanies or dwellings of the kami) are worshiped. Each shrine is devoted to various of the "80 myriads of Kami," particularly those which are considered the ancestral deities of the local community or clan.