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  1. Shinto Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo -- by en:user:jpatokal

  2. What is Shinto? • The “Spirit Way” (From Chinese Shen-Dao, “way of the Gods,” cf. kami-no-michi in Japanese) • Ancient (?), indigenous, mythical, nature religion of Japan • Called “Shinto”after Buddhism (552 C.E.) • No founder – An “ethnic” religion of the Japanese people • The root and embodiment of Japanese culture

  3. Early Shinto • shamanism • healing practices • worship of kami: • (Deities of Shinto that are associated with places, certain animals, and the emperor. They include mythological beings, powerful and awesome aspects of nature, and important humans.) • Appears to have been very flexible in incorporating new figures.

  4. Historical Overview • In the sixth century C.E. contact with China introduced Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism (and writing) • 14th-century concerns that Buddhism would overwhelm Shinto, led to some defensive separations. • At the height of the Shogunate (ca. 15th-16th centuries) a preference for Zen by the samurai elite led to some declines in Shinto influence. • Under the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) Shinto became the state religion. • After WWII, the Allies forced the Japanese government to become secular; the Japanese Emperor renounced his “divine” status. • Kuroda Toshio has proposed an alternative/revisionist history of Shinto: Only in modern times has Shinto/kami no michi designated a specific, separate religion

  5. Shinto Mythology • Two main texts: • Kojiki (myths of ancient times, origins of gods and man) • Nihonji (ancient history of Japan) • Of gods & goddesses: The Kami • Polytheistic • Nature deities – represent and control natural elements and forces • Creation myth – Japan as the center of the world

  6. Shinto Mythology Izanagi (“male”) & izanami (“female”) (brother & sister) create the islands of Japan • Amaterasu – the Sun Goddess • Mother of the first emperor of Japan

  7. Three kindsof Shinto • Shrine/Folk Shinto • State Shinto • Sect Shinto

  8. Shrine Shinto • Jinja(shrines) - Tens of thousands located throughout Japan • Natural structure, fits in with natural surrounding • Torii – entry gate, separates sacred from profane space • Tusbaki Grand Shrine of America • Household shrines – kamidana(kami shelf)

  9. Torii • A formal gatelike structure that marks a Shinto sacred place or shrine. Akumi Kanbe Shinmeisha (安久美神戸神明社), Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan

  10. Miyajima • An island near Hiroshima in Japan that is home to a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple. A large orange torii stands in the ocean in front of Miyajima, marking the entire island as a shrine..

  11. Grand Shrine at Ise

  12. Shimenawa • a twisted rope marking a sacred or holy spot. Shimenawa at the Izumo-Taisha

  13. Temizuya • an ablution pavilion where worshipers purify themselves by washing face and hands before approaching the kami. Kotoku-in, Kamakura 
Photo by Linda Freeman, July 6, 2003

  14. Enshrined Kami • The (symbol of the) kami remain hidden from public view • Sometimes the symbol of the kami can be an anthropomorphic figure, but that is rare. • Inscriptions on paper or cloth symbolize the kami. • The three treasures: sword, a mirror, and a jewel (comma-shaped stone)

  15. Shinto Worship • Worship can take place at home, at a shrine, or at festivals • The “default” mode/model is the invidual visiting the shrine: • Enter at the torii • Approaches the temizuya for purification ritual • Approaches the shrine, avoiding the middle path to leave room for the kami • Places a coin in the donation box, rings the bell (to summon the kami) • Bows twice • Claps twice • Prayer • Bows once • (sometimes more bows and claps are customary) • Oracles may be given, Charms purchased, etc.)

  16. State Shinto • Meiji period (1868) – end of WWII • Emphasis on Japanese culture and nationality (elimination of foreign influences) • Emperors of Japan as divine • Hierarchy of shrines: • Main shrine at Ise – dedicated to Amaterasu • Palace shrines honoring Amaterasu, other kami, and emperors • Shrines elsewhere dedicated to national heroes • 97% of remaining shrines dedicated to local kami

  17. Sect Shinto • 13 recognized sects • NGOs • Many founded in 19th century • Specific founders and texts • Unique teachings and practices • Some combine Shinto with influences from Buddhism or other religions

  18. The FourAffirmations • Tradition and Family • Love of Nature • Physical cleanliness • Matsuri: festivals that worship and honor the Kami

  19. Shinto PracticesTradition and Family Life cycle celebrations take place at shrines: • Newborn Baby • 7-5-3 festival: blessings for boys age 5, girls ages 3 & 7 • Entry to adulthood (age 20) • Marriage (since Shinto celebrates life in this world, in death, the Japanese may turn to Buddhist rather than Shinto rituals)

  20. Shinto Practices Love of Nature: • Annual cycle of seasonal festivals Physical Cleanliness: • Misoji - Water purification rites to wash away impurity, thus restoring original purity

  21. Shinto on the Web • Ancient Japan: Shinto Creation Stories • Visit a Shinto shrine on-line: Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America • The Shinto Online Network Association