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I seem to have real trouble with sentences where phrases sit together with (apparently) no indication as to how they're related. This is a prime example (with the bold being my problem):

天なる神チュクイを祀った虹の礼拝堂と呼ばれる聖所で祈りを捧げているとき、突然倒れてそのまま天に召されたのだ。

I know it basically means:

"When offering a prayer at a sanctuary called the Rainbow Chapel, which enshrined the heavenly god Chukui, she suddenly collapsed and was called to heaven."

My trouble here (and with other similar sentences) is that, apart from sitting within the same sentence, 天なる神チュクイを祀った doesn't appear to be related in any way to 虹の礼拝堂と呼ばれる聖所で祈りを捧げているとき.

Is there a grammatical construction at work here that I'm not aware of, or am I just expecting too much and trying too hard to map Japanese exactly to English (which I know isn't always realistic).

It's like the sentence doesn't have the "which", and actually says:

"When offering a prayer at a sanctuary called the Rainbow Chapel enshrined the heavenly god Chukui, she suddenly collapsed and was called to heaven."

Like I say, I find this happens to me with other sentences, so can someone please explain where I'm going wrong? I bet it's something really simple!

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天なる神チュクイを祀った is a relative clause describing 虹の礼拝堂. As you have observed, in Japanese, there is no need for "that/which/who". That's just how Japanese works.

  • 英語を話す男 The man who speaks English.
  • 英語を話す男は帰った The man who speaks English went home.

However, you can also think of it as:

  • 英語を話す男 The English-speaking man.
  • 英語を話す男は帰った The English-speaking man went home. (This sentence does not have "who").

As the description gets more complicated, the relative clause gets longer. In English, this is sometimes done with hyphenation:

  • イギリス訛りで英語を話す男 The speaks-English-with-a-British-accent man.

It's just that unless you're trying to be humorous, etc., it's more natural in English to say "The man who speaks English with a British accent." because the long hyphenation makes it awkward.

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