The Main Sanctuary (shinden 神殿) of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters is a structure comprising the Inner Sanctuary and four worship halls. The Main Sanctuary is built so that the Kanrodai is located at the center of the Inner Sanctuary, which is in turn surrounded by the North, South, West, and East Worship Halls.
While the West and East Worship Halls contain steel reinforcement, the majority of the Main Sanctuary is built with Japanese cypress.
The size of each of the worship halls are as follows:
- North: 271 tatami mats
- South: 546 tatami mats
- West: 1,170 tatami mats
- East: 1,170 tatami mats<ref>Yoboku’s Guide to Tenrikyo, pp. 122–123.</ref>
The first structure that served as the Main Sanctuary for Church Headquarters was the Place for the Service, which was constructed in 1864. An annex was added in 1888. The Place for the Service was utilized as Tenrikyo’s sanctuary until the construction of a temporary sanctuary in April 1911.<ref>『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 560.</ref>
 Taisho construction (North Worship Hall)
The Taisho construction refers to the construction of the Main Sanctuary and other structures that took place between October 27, 1911 and 1914.
Although followers first expressed a wish to construct a new sanctuary leading up to the 10th Anniversary of Oyasama (1896), Osashizu from the time did not give permission and instead instructed that followers dormitories be constructed instead.
The so-called Hundred-Day Divine Directions, delivered between March 13 and June 9, 1907 contained instructions for a construction, including:
- For the 30th Anniversary, I do not demand that it be large or small. I ask you to begin to build just a model of the final construction.<ref>Osashizu 1907-03-13 22:00</ref>
The effort to begin the construction project urged in the Osashizu was stirred when the temporary ceremonial platform constructed for the 20th Anniversary of Oyasama (1906) was blown down by wind on November 24, 1909.<ref>Information in the remainder of this section from 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, pp. 506–507. </ref> At the Spring Grand Service the next year, followers engaged in earth-carrying hinokishin to bring dirt from the Toyoda Hills to the Residence.
Work on the temporary sanctuary began on May 28, 1910. Other temporary structures included a temporary lecture hall, temporary Foundress’ Sanctuary, temporary Memorial Hall, and temporary residence for the Shinbashira. The temporary sanctuary was dedicated on April 25, 1911.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place on October 27, 1911 on an embankment measuring 1,320 m2 (0.326 acres). Hinokishin to lay the foundation for the Inner Sanctuary took place on June 1, 1912 (the first year of the Taisho era), in which Shinnosuke Nakayama, Tamae Nakayama, and Tamachiyo Nakayama took part. The ridge-beam raising ceremony took place on November 28, 1912 and the Main Sanctuary was completed on December 25, 1913.
The completed Main Sanctuary comprised of front and back sections. The front section (zenden 前殿) is now the present North Worship Hall and back section (koden 後殿) was utilized as an altar shrine.
 Showa construction (South Worship Hall)
The Showa construction refers to the construction of the Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters and other structures that began on June 26, 1931 and completed on October 25, 1934.<ref>Unless noted, information contained in this section is from 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, pp. 434–435.</ref> It is said that 1,700,000 people contributed their hinokishin toward the construction.<ref>A Historical Sketch Of Tenrikyo: focusing on the Anniversaries of Oyasama, p. 76.</ref>
In the lead-up to the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama (1936) and Centennial Anniversary of Tenrikyo (1937), three objectives were announced in October 1930, one which included making additions to the Main Sanctuary and the reconstruction of the Foundress’ Sanctuary. The Showa construction resulted in the present South Worship Hall and Foundress’ Sanctuary.
 Temporary West and East Worship Halls
“Temporary” worship halls (仮礼拝場 kari-raihaijo) were constructed in the west side of the Main Sanctuary for the 80th Anniversary of Oyasama (1966) and in the east side for the Inauguration of the third Shinbashira Zenye Nakayama (1968).<ref>『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, pp. 667.</ref>
 Construction of West and East Worship Halls
Planning for the Centennial Anniversary of Oyasama (1986) began as early as 1977. The announcement for the construction of the West and East Worship Halls was made after the 1977 Autumn Grand Service.<ref>Unless noted, information contained in this section is from 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 667.</ref> A prayer service for the construction was held on March 28, 1978.
 West Worship Hall
Work began on the west side. Two temporary corridors were constructed. One ran through the Inner Courtyard, connecting the North Worship Hall and Foundress’ Sanctuary. The other connected the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall.
Foundress’ Hall No. 3 and the west corridor were removed and relocated. Then, the dismantling of the Temporary West Worship Hall commenced. Excavation began with an earth-carrying hinokishin activity on October 26, 1978. A Service to mark the ridge-beam raising was conducted on January 28, 1980. Members from the general congregation were allowed inside the West Worship Hall for the first time on the same day.
After the laying of roof tiles and finishing of the woodwork, the West Worship Hall was finally complete. A Service was conducted on July 25, 1981 to mark its completion.
 East Worship Hall
Construction of the East Worship Hall then commenced with the dismantling of the Temporary Hall. Preparations were made to remove and relocate the east corridor in time for the Oyasama Centennial Anniversary Church Head Ministers Institute, which was held in the newly expanded Inner Courtyard on October 28, 1981. An earth-carrying hinokishin activity was held later the same day.
The Service to mark the ridge-beam raising was conducted on January 28, 1983. Renovation of the Inner Sanctuary dais took place on May 1, 1984. The ceremony to replace the Kanrodai took place on the night of October 24. A thanksgiving service marking the completion of the Construction of the West and East Worship Halls was held on the next day, the 25th.
Roughly 220,000 people contributed their hinokishin during the seven years it took to complete the West and East Worship Halls.
 Regulations in the Main Sanctuary
Anyone entering the Main Sanctuary is required to take off their shoes. Photography, cellphone use, eating, and drinking are not allowed inside.
 Sanctuary tours
Tours of the Main Sanctuary, Foundress’ Sanctuary, and the Memorial Hall in Japanese are provided by staff of the Precincts Section (keidai gakari). Those who wish to have tours in other languages are asked to contact the Translation Section for available tours and languages.
 See also