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Indigenous and Imported Traditions in Japan. Jeffrey L. Richey, Ph.D. REL 232 Religions of China and Japan Berea College Fall 2004. EARLY JAPAN (4500 BCE-550 CE). Origins of Japanese people: unknown, probably multiple, perhaps related to Koreans and Manchurians

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indigenous and imported traditions in japan

Indigenous and Imported Traditions in Japan

Jeffrey L. Richey, Ph.D.

REL 232

Religions of China and Japan

Berea College

Fall 2004

early japan 4500 bce 550 ce
EARLY JAPAN(4500 BCE-550 CE)
  • Origins of Japanese people: unknown, probably multiple, perhaps related to Koreans and Manchurians
  • Centralized authority and stratified society developed much later in Japan, perhaps due to easy access to water
  • Earliest records of Japanese religion describe female shaman-rulers, oracle bone divination, and concern with ritual purification
  • No early Japanese text free of Chinese influence
shint
SHINTÔ 神道
  • Shintô = term borrowed from Chinese
  • In both Chinese and early Japanese texts, Shintô =
      • Popular religion
      • Buddhism
      • Daoism
      • Generic “religion”
  • Until late medieval period (c. 1500s), Shintô = Buddhism
  • After 1500s, Shintô gradually acquires modern meaning: independent, indigenous Japanese religion
pre modern japanese religious history
300s-600s: Yamato period – Chinese art, language, politics, religion (especially Buddhism), and technology imported from Korea

710-794: Nara period – unified imperial rule established; Buddhism endorsed by Nara court; earliest Shintô texts (Kojiki 古事記 [Record of Ancient Matters], Nihongi日本記 [Chronicles of Japan] composed

794-1192: Heian period – imperial capital moved to Kyoto; Pure Land and Chan (Zen) Buddhism introduced

1192-1338: Kamakura period – imperial power eclipsed by rule of shogun將軍(military dictator); dramatic growth for Buddhism

1338-1571: Muromachi (Ashikaga) period – declining stability of shogun rule; endemic civil war; Portuguese bring Christianity

1571-1868: Tokugawa (Edo) period – feudal society under shogun; persecution of Christianity; popularity of neo-Confucianism; Shintô develops independent religious identity

PRE-MODERN JAPANESE RELIGIOUS HISTORY
shint key concepts
SHINTÔ: KEY CONCEPTS
  • Kami神: non- anthropomorphic spirits of natural sites that embody purity as well as Japan itself
  • Jinja神社: shrines at which kami are present
  • Matsuri 祭: festivals involving music, dance, prayer, food offerings, and feasting; closely tied to agricultural seasons
  • Harae祓: ritual purification, usually as preparation for participation in shrine ceremony
shint views of nature
SHINTÔ VIEWS OF NATURE
  • Japan = pure, good, beautiful, and divine land brought into being by kami
  • Imperial family = descendants of Amaterasu天照大 (sun kami)
  • Japanese people = “children of the kami”
  • Thus, all things are good insofar as they arise from kami, but liable to pollution insofar as they stray from kami
shint views of humanity
SHINTÔ VIEWS OF HUMANITY
  • Human nature = originally pure (“bright, red heart”)
  • Human life = process of gradual accumulation of pollution (“dirty, black heart”)
  • Human goal = purity:
    • outward purification of body and community
    • inner purification of heart (kokoro 心)
  • Both goals facilitated by contact with kami at shrines, in nature, etc.
the shint ritual year
THE SHINTÔ RITUAL YEAR
  • New Year Festival (January 1-15): family purification through shrine visits and house-cleaning
  • Spring and Autumn Festivals: seasonal rituals of purification
  • Great Purification (June 30): national ritual of purification performed at each local shrine
  • Harvest Festival(November 23-24): offering of first fruits by emperor at Ise shrine
shint views of buddhism
SHINTÔ VIEWS OF BUDDHISM
  • No Shintô text predates Buddhism in Japan
  • Nara thinkers develop theory ofhonji suijaku本地重跡 (original reality, manifest traces), whereby bodhisattvas are honji, kami are suijaku
  • By Kamakura period, Shintôists invert theory -- kami as honji, bodhisattvas as suijaku
  • Buddhism and Shintô remain completely intertwined until Muromachi period
  • By Meiji period (1868-1912), Shintô and Buddhism separate
shint views of confucianism
SHINTÔ VIEWS OF CONFUCIANISM
  • No Shintô texts predate the introduction of Confucianism to Japan
  • Early rulers such as Prince Shotoku (573-621) based the Japanese imperial state on Chinese and Korean Confucian models
  • By Tokugawa period, Neo-Confucian thought was very attractive to the ruling and intellectual classes
  • Shintô-Confucian synthesis complete by late 1800s