"Fire washes skin from the bone, and sin from the soul"
A belief with the majority of its believers residing in the Fire province of the Akinian Empire. The Way of Fire is closely related to the Will of Fire but differs in various aspects. It is a faith that proclaims that their uncalled deity - who is too holy of having a name and thus often referred to just as God - created the world from flames. The element of fire is thus regarded as holy and every once in a while the priests of the faith proclaim a chosen champion of their god, being called the Keeper of the Flame. An interesting fact is that while there aren't any side branches that it isn't rare that priests believe in another person to be the champion of their deity as there is a lack of a centralized rule within the religion.
- 1 General Information
- 2 Shrine Maidens and Priests
- 3 The Fire Stories
- 4 Important Celebrations & Traditions
- 5 Fire Temple Sizes
The unnamed Diety of The Way of Fire. God was once said to be everywhere always, and capable of shaping the world with a mere thought. But since he fell into an eternal slumber long ago, God has been merely watching from his dreams as all he has created has strayed farther from the His light.
A yet unnamed arch enemy of all living beings. It is written that the darkness is a malevolent and powerful being that had existed with God for countless eons in the nothingness that was the Universe before God decided to create everything we now know. The Darkness was greatly displeased with Gods decision to create light and vowed on that day to undo all which God had done when he was given the chance. The Darkness has been plotting since, and it is said that the black of night is so uncomfortable for many because The Darkness itself is present where the light of Gods Fire shines weakest. The Darkness gains power through the misdeeds of man and all that is wicked in the world.
Worshiping for those that follow the Way of Fire is held every Saturday of the month. Those that follow the belief system attend a service that normally lasts close to an hour and is led by a Head Priest who is assisted by other Priests and Shrine Maidens in carrying out the duties of the service.
A service is normally held at a designated Shrine, which are normally known as a “Fire Shrine”, many of which are located on Mountains as to be “Closer to the Heavens”. Most Fire Shrines are dull in nature, taking gray and green hues over that of more flashy reds and oranges, against what many would expect of a place of worship centered around Fire.
Behind a shrine or temple of the Way of Fire is normally a Fire that is tended to day and night by the Shrine Priests as it is their main duty when not holding worship service. The general cleanliness, finances, and upkeep of the Shrine is left to the Shrine Maidens.
A general Shrine of the Way of Fire will normally have anywhere from two to three Priests and one to four Shrine Maidens that live either at the Shrine or relatively close and tend to it daily. The Shrine is normally funded entirely by its congregation and any who visit during the day and on holidays through donations and is not taxed under Imperial Law, which leaves it’s only expenses to be that of maintenance and sustenance for those that tend to it.
Shrine Maidens and Priests
Priests wear an entirely Red ceremonial Robe for days of worship, and a red robe more suited for daily work when not leading worship services. Shrine Maidens wear entirely white robes, with red sashes that tie the robe at their waists for both ceremonial and daily work around the Shrine and are expected to wear their hair up at all times.
A Priest of the Way of Fire is normally a position that is voluntarily chosen by the man. They begin training at the age of fourteen, normally with a parent's permission and in a group of three to five young boys at once. This group will first shadow the lowest of the Shrine Priests in his daily duties which would include preparing meals for the other Shrine Priests, cleaning the area around the Fire, cleaning the Shrine Priests living area, and minor religious duties. As these young apprentices grow and learn they will begin to move on to shadowing older and more experienced Shrine Priests, learning more about ceremonies, religious duties, and leading the Shrine.
A Shrine Maiden is a far different story. Shrine Maidens of the Way of Fire tend to be of the same lineage, and normally inherit the job from their mother although many do come in from the “outside”. A Shrine Maiden would normally begin their training at the age of six or seven, following their mother around the Shrine as they prepare it for the day, clean the Shrine, and ensure that the needs of the Shrine Priests are met for the day. Shrine Maidens also assist in some of the most pivotal ceremonial and celebratory rituals of the Way of Fire, normally playing key roles in rituals and working closely with the Shrine Priests.
The Fire Stories
The Fire Stories are a collection of the most important stories within the Way of Fire, and the stories that serve as the basis for some of the most important rituals and practices of followers of the Way of Fire.
The Story of Creation
The Age Before
Before the Creation of everything we know, God was alone in the Universe. He spent an immeasurable amount of time in the darkness of the void, pondering to himself what it was that the universe so badly lacked. He asked himself this question for many eons, over and over again he came back to the question of what was missing, until one day God found himself sick of the darkness he had known for an eternity and created the Fire.
On the first day, God created in the palm of his hand a small flame. He gazed upon the mesmerizing swirls of orange and yellow, but was unhappy with the result of his effort and made the flame much larger, dwarfing even himself with its size. The Fire, now many times larger than God, began to spit embers and ash high into the void. Below the Fire the ash began to settle, and by the end of the day the ash from the Fire had created the “Earth”.
On the second day, God had been dutifully tending to the Fire, still unhappy with the result of his efforts he continued to enlarge the Fire, helping it to grow ever more. His efforts, so intense as they were and the Fire growing ever larger began to cause the ash that had formed the Earth to harden. Below God the Earth became host to rivers of flowing molten ash, this ash once cooled would form “rock”, creating vast “mountains” and the “ground” that we walk on today.
On the third day, God had been toiling so hard to keep the Fire that he began to sweat. Beads of sweat fell from God's body as he tended the Fire. Below him, the droplets landed on the Earth. Where the sweat landed, from the Earth sprouted forth “forests” and “plants”, where the sweat pooled were formed great “oceans” and mighty “lakes”.
On the fourth day, God had continued to tend to the Fire. His effort had formed beneath him a world so profound that he had reserved himself to continue his work, not yet satisfied with the empty Earth. It was on this day that God created every living creature on the Earth, placing within everyone of them a piece of the very Fire he tended to. Birds flew across the sky, animals roamed the Earth, and Humans; whom God had created in his image; began to settle the lands.
On the fifth day God grew tired of his efforts. He snuffed out the Fire with a great breath, and sent Embers and Ash high into the void above him. The Embers would be blown so far into the void that they would remain there, forever burning, creating “stars”, the largest and brightest of the embers creating the “sun”. The Ash that he had blown into the void would collect and create the “moon” and other celestial bodies that propagate the void. His breath would create “wind” and shape the “weather” of the Earth as well as spin it, setting it in motion and giving the Earth “seasons”.
The First Keeper of the Flame
Many years would pass as God would rest in the heavens, all the while below him his many creations grew. What was once a sparsely green Earth had grown into a lush world. The animals had taken over the planet, spreading into every corner, and his most beloved creation; Humans; had begun to create villages and clans, ways of governing themselves, and even began to worship.
God, interested in watching his favorite creation would curiously gaze upon them from above as they worshipped their deities and offered gifts to them. Puzzled God would continue to watch as his Humans would worship Gods that did not exist until he would recognize a single Human that seemed to avoid the worship that the rest of his people so diligently went about.
One day, while the Human toiled away in a plain, cutting away the wild grass as to be able to plow a field, God appeared to him. He asked the man why it was that he did not worship the other Gods with the rest of his people, to which the man replied that he did had not seen the others’ Gods bring them any good fortune. To this God smiled and conjured a flame in his hand.
The man, confused, asked God what it was that he was going to do with the flame, to which God replied that he would show him the Way of Fire, so that he could show his people the one true God, so that they would be saved and forever loved by their creator. The man accepted God’s offer, and was given the flame in God’s hand which quickly dissipated. God then spoke to the man and offered him a single parcel of wisdom.
“The Fire is within us all. You must only accept it to be saved.”
God then left them man, returning to watch from the heavens as the man began to spread his word to the other humans, but was unhappy as the man did not seem to have accepted the fire as he had wished he would. After many moons of the man not yet accepting the Fire as God had hoped, God grew angry at the man and his village who had also not accepted the Fire so he sent a great flood to wipe them from the land. As the flood approached the man from the field was struck by revelation as he watched the other villagers pray to their Gods, instead he prayed to God above and pleaded for a way to stop the giant wave from destroying his town and people, to which God spoke to him from above and told him that he already had a way to save them all within him, he need only accept it.
With the assurance from God, the man would step forward and take a great breath, from his lungs he would spit out a fireball that would hit the incoming wave and disperse it, saving his village. This man would be known as the very first “Keeper of the Flame”, and was also the first to gain the ability to mold and use Chakra, the embodiment of the Fire within every living creature.
The “Keeper of the Flame” title would from then on be passed down to figures that would bring the world back from the verge of disaster, or onto figures who were believed to be of great importance in keeping the balance of the world. Be it Kings or great Shinobi and Warriors, the Keeper of the Flame title is bestowed upon a person in a time of tremendous need by Priests of the Way of Fire.
A Long Slumber
Many centuries after the creation of everything, it is said that God Himself grew so tired of his constant work on all that he watched over that he decided to rest for the first time since before creation. The story itself speaks of how he went on to rest at the top of the tallest peak in the world, although which peak exactly this is is unsure and has been the center of a handful of expeditions carried out by followers of the Way of Fire in the hopes of finding God Himself.
Once God decided to rest, it is said he fell quickly into a deep slumber, one that he has not risen from since. It is said that he still watches over the world in a dream-like state, and can only hear his followers when they pray to him. It is not known when God is to awaken, and debates rage to this day within different groups of followers of the Way of Fire on a date, why He will awaken, and even whether He will awaken at all.
One thing however does remain consistent on all sides. When God finally awakens he will be made manifest, a physical being on the very world in which all walk and that He will chose a final Keeper of the Flame, a Brave as it is agreed by all, to stand at his side and fight back against The Darkness and its prophesized army of demons and other ghastly creatures that will bring all of Gods creations to their ultimate demise.
The Eternal Dark
It is said in the holy scrolls that one day, The Darkness will have gained all the power he requires to finally destroy that which it hates so much. It will raise an army of demons and beasts, the wicked and wretched to its call and begin its great crusade across the world. The cities of many will fall in flames before this prophesized army and all living things will be burnt to ash with its passing. As The Darkness and its army lay waste to all God created, it is said that God will finally awaken from his slumber, an ethereal being of unimaginable power will be awoken in the image of His most cherished creation; man.
The holy scrolls go on to state that God Himself will appoint a final Keeper of the Flame to fight at his side against the army of Darkness. The "Final Keeper" as they are called in the holy scrolls, will ride forth ahead of the advancing army of Darkness and gather the good and the faithful to his side. With this army of the remaining good of the world, God and the Final Keeper will face off with The Darkness in a battle of insurmountable odds to decide the fate of all.
The holy scrolls do not delve any further into The Eternal Dark, and thus it is unclear what the outcome of the end of days will be when it finally comes. The zealously faithful believe that God and the Final Keeper will reign victorious, but the more thinking of faithful tend to believe the outcome has already been given in the name of the story itself, The Eternal Dark.
Important Celebrations & Traditions
The Way of Fire, like most other religions, does have specific days or times of the year that are designated as important days for the faith and as such are normally celebrated with special worships services, rituals, and festivals.
The Week of Fire
The single most important holiday for followers of the Way of Fire. The Week of Fire encompasses the first week of the year as prescribed by the Way of Fire, and is believed to fall on the same week that God created the Earth and everything else in the universe.
The first day of the celebration is a long worship service that involves the only time in a year that a Shrines Fire is deliberately put out. Following its extinguishing is a two hour long ritual that many of the faith come to witness in which the Head Shrine Priest reads of the Age Before and the Five Days of Creation. When they read the story of the first day the Fire is relit, and every subsequent day the fire is made to grow larger and larger until it reaches it’s height on the fifth day of the week.
For the days inbetween the First and Fifth day of the week, there is a service held every day in which worshipers gather to share in the love of God and revel in each others presence.
The Fifth and final day is the most important day of the week long celebration. The day that God snuffed out the original flame and set alight the night sky with stars and the day with the sun. The day long celebration is started early in the morning with the ceremonial Lessening of the Flame, in which the young Apprentice Priests are given the sacred honor of lessening the now roaring flame at their Shrine to a more manageable size for an entire year of constant burning. Following their successful completion of Lessening the Flame the Shrine Priest Apprentices are officially recognized as fully fledged Shrine Priests.
After the Lessening of the Fire, the new Shrine Priests hold a joint service with their worshipers, the first of their career. This service also stands as the service in which a Shrine Maiden is officially recognized at the age of thirteen as a fully fledged Shrine Maiden for their Shrine. With the blessing of the Shrine Maiden they have been apprenticing under, normally their mother, and the newly minted Shrine Priests the Shrine Maidens are given the garb that denotes them as no longer an apprentice and instead a full Shrine Maiden, entrusted with the Shrine and all that is concerned with it.
The rest of the day consists of optional services carried out by the older Shrine Priests while the new Priests and Shrine Maidens with the help of the older Shrine Maidens and worshipers complete the setup of the festival that will take place at sundown.
The festival consists of stands for games and food as well as the Shrine itself being open and staffed by the newly minted Shrine Maidens who assist festival goers in creating slips known simply as “Wills” that are offered by the festival goers with the help of the new Maidens to the Fire behind the Shrine, these “Wills” symbolize the person's hopes and dreams for the coming year and offering them to the Fire is seen as sending their Wills directly to God himself whether or not the festival goer believes in the Way of Fire is not important, as God makes no distinction on the week he created his most beloved creatures.
Strewn over the festival are red lanterns that run between trees and the Shrine itself is open to all those, believers or the curious for the entirety of the week which culminates in this festival. The festival is by and large the biggest attraction to a shrine of the Way of Fire for an entire year, and its proceeds go to running and maintaining the Shrine for the year in question.
The Festival ends with a large fireworks display, meant to symbolize God’s breath as he blew out the original fire and created the stars above and tends to be a rather large spectacle for all those around and quite a huge hit for couples.
The Birth of the Keeper
The second most important holiday for believers of the Way of Fire, “The Birth of the Keeper” falls on the Summer Solstice of every year. Although not a set specific day, as the actual birth of the first Keeper of the Flame is actually unknown, it was long ago decided that the Summer Solstice; the day in which the sun (a large portion of the original Fire) remains visible for the longest period in the year, would act as the day in which the celebration is held.
On the day of the Summer Solstice a large worship is held at the Shrines of the Way of Fire. These worships begin at or close to 11am and end at exactly 12pm with the lighting of two ceremonial candles that will remain lit until the sun rises the next morning.
Much like the final day of the the Week of the Fire celebrations, a large festival is held at most Shrines big enough to house them and is very similar to the festival that takes place on the final day of the Week of the Fire. The festival for the Birth of the Keeper centers more around food and games than the Festival during the Week of Fire and is normally a highly anticipated day of the year for the younger generations. As well as hosting food and game stands, Shrine Priests offer blessings to newly born children at the Fire of their Shrine all throughout the night of the festival.
Using ash collected from the Fire itself, the Priests write one of three sets of Kanji on the babies foreheads or stomachs that are important to the Way of Fire religion and are centered around commonly accepted virtues of the Keeper of the Flame. The choice of which Kanji to use is left up to the burning of three small sticks, each of which is placed in a space on a ritual holder that corresponds with the specific Kanji. The three sticks are lit at the same time in the Fire and then placed into the holder, the first one to burn down to the base of the holder decides which Kanji will be written on the child.
火 ー Fire - Imbued with the strength of the original Fire, those that receive the “Fire” are believed to be destined to do great things. Be it lead armies or nations, gain great wealth and social standing, or become great heroes. It is widely believed that those imbued with “Fire” are the most likely to become a Keeper of the Flame. Account for only 5% of the imbuements and is the most sought after for obvious reasons.
意志力 ー Willing Heart - Imbued with a heart that knows no bounds, those that receive “Willing Heart” are said to love and care for all others, believer or nonbeliever, friend or stranger, ally or enemy. Those that are imbued with the Willing Heart are destined to love and care for all those in their times of need and are said to be open and friendly people. Accounts for 15% of the three imbuements.
勇敢 ― Brave - Imbued with the heart of a warrior, those that receive Brave are said to be the protectors of the weak and the guardians of the realm. With a heart of flesh and fire those imbued with Brave do not flinch in the face of danger, do not cower at overwhelming odds and instead jump headlong into the fray if it means protecting those that cannot protect themselves. The most common of the three imbuements by over 80%.
Although the sticks are the same size and lit at the same time as well as being made of the same wood, there is an unusually high amount of “Braves” as the result, to which no one is sure why. There is talk that the sticks themselves are rigged somehow although the Priests and Shrine Maidens reassure parents that it is God choosing the path of their children and not in fact a gimmick.
Every Saturday a worship service is held at 1100. This service consists of reading of stories important to Followers of the Way of Fire, a monologue held by either a Priest or an invited member of the service that normally consists of a story that has happened to them at some point in their life and how it has effected their faith in God. These stories can consist of anything from simple everyday events to combat stories from veterans within the patronage of the Shrine. Many of these services last about an hour, although many more take less time. After services have ended most of those in attendance move to the courtyard of the Shrine to share lunch with one another in a long standing tradition that has no specific name.
This lunch held after a service is furnished by the patrons of the Shrine, with many bringing food that had been made prior and storing it in the administrative office of the Shrine if one exists. Small tables are broken out to hold the food and those that remain to eat (which is normally everyone in attendance) stand and chat as they eat. Moving from group to group is common and seen as polite as staying with one group implies you have no interest or do not like the other members of your Shrine, which would be against Gods own teachings to love all no matter their differences.
If it is raining out, the lunch can be held in the Administrative building, or the Shrine itself as they tend to provide the most room for a large group of people.
Prayer for the followers of the Way of Fire is important. Within the Way of Fire, prayer is rather undefined, and normally led by the person praying. They can thank God or ask for good tidings, or simply talk to Him if that is what they feel they need to do. Few shared prayers do exist, but they are mostly used for important ceremonies throughout the year. Most devout followers pray at least once a day, and while praying consider themselves to be directly in Gods presence, for it is told that he is everywhere always and when one prays he listens to their voices as whispers in his dreams. Praying is normally done in a kneeling position where one sits back on their legs and keeps their hands on their thighs although individual differences exist and are not looked down upon.
Most followers that do pray at least once a day do so by starting in the morning. The devout wake up before sunrise to prepare for the day, and shortly before the sun crests the horizon they move to pray to God. If possible the follower will face the sun as it rises, give a prayer, and only rise once the sun has fully cleared the horizon. The reason for praying toward the sun is because of the fact it is seen as the largest piece of the original First Flame, the same Flame that gave life to all living creatures and the entire world. The symbolic meaning behind praying to the sun is easily seen as it rises, shedding its light upon all that it had a hand in creating once more.
Prayer at the end of the day is also common. As with the tradition of First Light, when praying at Days End the believer is to face the setting sun if possible, however, this decision to watch the sun is not considered as necessary for Days End, and many that do pray at Days End do so before going to sleep, many hours after the sun has already set. A Days End prayer normally consists of ones thanks to God for their day, any good that came to them, and their hopes for the following day.
A Pray For the Lost and the Damned
I know not where I’ve been
I know not what I’ve seen
I know not where I am
I know not who I am
I know not what must be done
He knows where I am
And He knows who I am
He knows what I must do
And He knows how I shall do it
Through Him the Fire shall shine bright
Through Him I shall know what’s right
The Fire Guides
The Last Rites of followers of the Way of Fire are a simple thing, consisting of a handful of phrases and utterances that are meant to prepare one for their journey to Gods side and help in the acceptance of their souls to their place with Him.
The most significant part of the Last Rites given to any dying believer is that of the ceremonial spreading of soot or ash from a flame of any kind onto their skin. With practiced hands and a steady heart the one delivering the Last Rites (Normally a Priest, though it can be a Shrine Maiden with no untold effects on the receiver, as well any follower can give the last rites if there are no true representatives of the faith available) will spread the ash onto the dying's lips as it is believed that when one passes their soul exits through their mouth and up to the heavens, allowing one last touch with the fire that created them before they enter into Gods eternal wisdom.The giver of the last rites then inscribes the symbols "平和" or "peace" upon their forehead, as a sort of ward or charm to assist in the persons peaceful passing from this life to the next.
Fire Temple Sizes
As the Way of Fire is one of the largest faiths in the Fire Country, Fire Shrines and Temples dot the maps of the area, with smaller Temples and Shrines commonly tending to farming communities and along well traveled roads. The average sized Temples and Shrines of the Way of Fire tend to be present in larger more well established communities, normally found on the outskirts of the towns jurisdiction, with some being more than 10km outside of the communities themselves, mostly due to the preference to build on hills or mountains when able. The largest of Fire Shrines and Temples tend to be located within large well developed cities, and owe their size and beauty to the fact that many visit these locations to gaze upon their prolific splendor.
Small shrines normally take the shape of a single, modestly sized building. Many are located off of well-beaten paths, up long winding pathways of old stone and moss covered wooden fencing. These smaller shrines tend to be tended to by only one or two unpaid individuals, that tend to roofing, flooring, and other small aesthetic and landscaping issues that the Shrine may have.
These smaller Shrines tend to be only places to go to in seeking meditation, prayer alone, or simply time away from the monotonous grind of daily life due to the fact many are secluded and often empty of any life save for the animals that call the area home.
These smaller shrines dot the landscape of the Fire Country, many have been abandoned over the many years they have existed and have fallen into disrepair, leaving them as overgrown crumbling buildings in the mountains and countryside. It's a well said verse among followers of the Way of Fire that "If one gets lost in the woods, they need only walk forward to find a Shrine, and a way out."
Average Sized Shrines and Temples
The far more average sized Shrines of the Way of Fire are the most commonly seen of the three sizes. With Shrines and Temples normally closer to civilization, manned and maintained by Priests and Shrine Maidens. These Shrines and Temples are normally in good working condition, have a devout group of worshippers that make their way out to the Shrine or Temple every weekend, and have a Fire that is constantly tended to.
Average sized Shrines and Temples are normally modest in nature. Their colors taking browns and greens over reds and oranges of Fire itself. The Shrines normally consist of a hall about the size of a normal home that is used for service with its worshipers and other Religious duties, along with an open square in front of the Shrine or Temple. An average size shrine may have anywhere from three to five more slightly smaller buildings than the main hall.
These buildings tend to serve as living accommodations for the Priests and Shrine Maidens that call the Temple or Shrine their home, an administrative building that Shrine Maidens do paperwork and bookkeeping in, and normally one building will serve as the kitchen and dining building for all those that tend to the place to hold meetings, relax, and share meals. Any other auxiliary buildings could range from places to store items for festivals, pens for small livestock such as goats, sheep, and chickens, and very rarely Shrines may allow shop owners to rent out small spaces to sell trinkets and items to worshipers.
Large Shrines and Temples
Larger Shrines and Temples are normally found within large cities. Many once used to be average in size and located on the outskirts of growing towns or villages and were, as time went on and the towns grew, engulfed by the every expanding city-scape.
In many cases these average size shrines maintained their modest size and appearance, merely erecting dividing walls to keep the shrine slightly separate from the city around it. But in a few extraordinary cases, be it by unintentional popularity from the city and those that visit it, or from contributions from devout and wealthy nobles, these Shrines and Temples gained enough money to buy the surrounding land around them. At first many did it to have a larger separation from the cities that encroached on them, but as time went on, and the need for a larger Hall or more places for Priests to live became evident many began to expand into these separating lands.
The largest of these Shrines and Temples tend to have large, intricately designed and adorned gates that mark their entry. Surrounding them tend to be tall, painted and decorated walls twice the height of any man.
The interior area of one of these large Shrines or Temples tends to be quite impressive. Spanning anywhere from an entire city block in the smaller of the large Temples to multiple Blocks as is the case in the large Fire Shrine of Hanaguro. Many have large, wide open plazas just beyond the gates that lead up to the Main Hall of the Shrine, and provide a large area for visitors and worshipers to congregate, chat, and, in rare cases, for overflow of people during worship to that can not fit inside the Main Hall.
A large Shrine, ontop of the Main Hall with also have multiple smaller, auxiliary Halls. These Halls can be used for smaller more personal worship services, funerals, and are commonly used to teach reading and writing to the people of the city for no cost. Along with these secondary Halls there are multiple buildings that house the living spaces for Priests and Shrine Maidens, among them is normally a shared kitchen and dining building that serves as a meeting place and an area to relax when not being used for any specific functions.
Larger Shrines will tend to have a much greater need for paid help to assist in keeping the grounds and buildings in good working order. They also see much larger influxes of visitors throughout a year then average sized Shrines and Temples. Due to these factors the need for records keeping at larger Temples and Shrines is paramount. Unlike the smaller sized Temples where records and transactions can be kept by one or two Shrine Maidens in a smaller administrative building three fourths the size of a normal sized house, larger Shrines and Temples require a larger space with more dedicated Shrine Maidens to keep their records in good order. These buildings are normally two to three times the size of an average household, but only possess a single floor. They may have windows to help visitors with information or donations, and many have separate rooms for administrative paperwork, records, and transaction keeping. A majority of the funds used to fund the Temple or Shrine are stored under lock and key in these administrative buildings, though many larger Shrines and Temples may use local banks for extra security.
A main attraction of larger Shrines and Temples are the average inclusion of one or more delicately tended to gardens and a walled pond or two on the premises that take up most of the space not used in any of the larger plazas or building spaces. These gardens normally offer small roofed gazebos and benches to sit and enjoy the views while connecting with all that God created.
Larger Shrines usually don't hire any outside help to tend to any of their gardens and instead prefer to have a dedicated group of Priests and Shrine Maidens that keep the plants well groomed and the pond free of debris and otherwise cleanly. The head Priest of a Temple tends to be well informed on the upkeep of the Gardens and any Ponds if they have them as a closeness to nature and everything God has created is tantamount to devout worship of God.