In line with the animistic religion's traditions, the buildings are regularly replaced, but the shrine is believed to have occupied the same spot for more than 2,000 years.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to take his counterparts to the sprawling site has attracted some controversy, however, due to its nationalist overtones.
The group will also get a brief crash course on Japan's world-leading green car technology.
The sputtering global economy
was expected to take centre stage when the formal talks get under way in the afternoon, although divisions were likely to remain over whether the world should spend or save its way out of the current malaise, with Japan and Germany at odds on the issue.
China, the world's second largest economy, will not be present, but it looks set to loom large over discussions.
Japan and the US are keen to corral support for a growing pushback against Beijing's territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea.
The G7 will also discuss the refugee crisis and Islamist terrorism, with French President Francois Hollande keen to address the issue after a brutal year that saw France hit twice by jihadists.
Security was tight across Japan, with thousands of extra police drafted in to patrol train stations and ferry terminals. Tokyo said it was taking no chances in the wake of terror attacks that struck Paris and Brussels in recent months.
Dustbins have been removed or sealed and coin-operated lockers blocked at train and subway stations in the capital and areas around the venue site. Authorities said they will be keeping a close eye on so-called "soft targets" such as theatres and stadiums.
Britain's referendum next month on whether or not to stay in the European Union is sure to figure prominently in discussions, as economists warn a so-called Brexit could dent the global economy.
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