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

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Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo -- by en:user:jpatokal

what is shinto
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
early shinto
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.
historical overview
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
shinto mythology
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
shinto mythology6
Shinto Mythology

Izanagi (“male”) & izanami (“female”) (brother & sister) create the islands of Japan

  • Amaterasu – the Sun Goddess
  • Mother of the first emperor of Japan
three kinds of shinto
Three kindsof Shinto
  • Shrine/Folk Shinto
  • State Shinto
  • Sect Shinto
shrine shinto
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)
  • 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

  • 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..
  • a twisted rope marking a sacred or holy spot.

Shimenawa at the Izumo-Taisha

  • 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

enshrined kami
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)
shinto worship
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.)
state shinto
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
sect shinto
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
the four affirmations
The FourAffirmations
  • Tradition and Family
  • Love of Nature
  • Physical cleanliness
  • Matsuri: festivals that worship and honor the Kami
shinto practices tradition and family
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)

shinto practices
Shinto Practices

Love of Nature:

  • Annual cycle of seasonal festivals

Physical Cleanliness:

  • Misoji - Water purification rites to wash away impurity, thus restoring original purity
shinto on the web
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