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Japanese Religion: The Way of the Kami

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1 Japanese Religion: The Way of the Kami
Shinto Japanese Religion: The Way of the Kami


3 Torii Arch: Chief Symbol of Shinto

4 Shinto/Japanese Religions Learning Objectives
Comprehend the concepts/ terms Understand and explain the main beliefs/ teachings Understand and explain the practices Understand historical development of Japanese religion along with the cultural, political, and social contexts and how foreign influences impacted the religion Be able to explain the nature and goals of Shinto Be able to explain the syncretistic nature of the Japanese people religiously Develop an appreciation for the contributions this religion made to history of thought, religion, etc.

5 A Few Specific Learning Objectives:
Understand the basic mythology of Japan and how it ties into the Shinto religion Understand and explain the influence the Chinese had on Shinto, particularly the presence and impact that Buddhism has had on Japanese people, and which sect of Buddhism that had the most popularity, and the sect that became unique in Japan

6 Shinto Terms/ Concepts
Shinto Kannagara Kami Kami-no-michi kami-dana Amaterasu Kojiki Nihongi Tsumi Ohari Misogi Tenrikyo Torii Three forms of Shinto historically: Sectarian Shinto State Shinto Domestic Shinto

7 Shinto: the Indigenous Religion of Japanese People (1)
The indigenous religion of the Japanese people, enshrouded in the ancient past, involved deep reference to the spirits and deities in nature, reverence to ancestors, & seeking harmony with nature

8 Shinto: the Indigenous Religion of Japanese People (2)
Each local area had their own local deity Their religion probably had little change over a few thousand years, until, similar to Native American religion, outside foreign influence came bringing a different religion… Japan: Buddhism brought by Chinese monks and merchants C.E. “Shinto”-- a label to describe the indigenous Japanese religion, from the Chinese “Shin” and “Tao” in the 6th cent. C.E. but the Japanese preferred to call their religion “Kami-no-michi”


10 The Foreign Religious and Cultural Influence in Japan
The 3rd cent. C.E.: Buddhism really had its impact in Japan Impact was religious, spiritual, ideological, and cultural The Japanese people were illiterate until the Chinese brought their writing with them Direct impact upon Shinto in its very name: Shinto comes from the Chinese Shin and Tao, loosely translated as “the Way of the gods”

11 Shinto in Response to Chinese Influence
But in response to this foreign influence, the Japanese have preferred to call their religion: Kami no michi, which also means, loosely, “the Way of the gods.” In the Common Era Middle Ages, the Japanese developed their writing, and in turn penned the Mythology of Japan in a book called Kojiki, and wrote the Chronicles of Japan in a book called Nihongi. These two texts which lay a cultural foundation for the Japanese people e.g. the emperors and the people are descendents from the gods

12 Shinto: Kami Defined Shinto, without Chinese or Buddhist influence:
Kami-simplistically or “gods,” deities in heaven and earth, but the term is used for almost everything: spirits in nature, gods/ goddesses, the heavenly objects Some scholars relate the sense of “kami” to the mana of Melanesians, meaning occult force that preliterate man found emanating from objects & aroused emotions of wonder and awe Japanese use Kami for anything, person, or force that possessed superior power or awesome in some way A Japanese scholar himself confessed, “I don’t know what Kami really means,” how it can be defined.

13 Summarizing historic Shinto Religion:
Shinto is loosely defined as “the way of the gods,” but their concept of kami (as in their name for the religion, kami no michi) Essentially, Shinto is a nature-based animistic polytheistic religion with the emphasis of living in harmony (kannagara) with nature, & Included ancestor veneration, and The offerings may have been common things such as food and drink to the kami and ancestors, And prayer or meditation Its natural that some Japanese welcomed Buddhist mediation and adapted their own form called Zen Buddhism.

14 Summarizing historic Shinto Religion:
The Way of the Kami Indigenously called Kami-no-michi instead of Shinto Deep reverence to the gods and spirits in nature, mountains, forests, etc. Shinto is a nature-based animistic polytheistic religion with the emphasis of living in harmony with nature/ kami Included ancestor veneration prayer and meditation. Chan Buddhism from China the Japanese to adopted, became Zen

15 Japanese Mythology The Kojiki, the “Chronicles of Ancient Events,” gives us a major source of Japanese mythology. These chronicles were collected in the 7th & 8th cent. a response to the entrance of the much older Chinese culture and religions. In the section called “The Age of the God’s,” one finds the mythological background of Japanese culture. It includes the stories that describe the creation of the Japanese islands by two kami, Izanagi and his consort Izanami. These two become the divine parents of the other kami. The chief of these spirits is Amaterasu, the sun goddess.

16 According to the Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan) and the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) in the course of events a primal chaos gives birth to various kami or deities, the most important being the Active and Passive essences of the universe, Izanami and Izanagi, the Female Who is Invited and the Male Who Invites, the ancestors of all things. Izanami and Izanagi are commanded by their heavenly associates to "make, consolidate, and give birth to" the eight Japanese islands.

17 The Kojiki reads, The heavenly kami at this time gave the heavenly jeweled spear to Izanagi and Izanami and instructed them to complete and solidify the land. Thus, the two kami, standing on the floating bridge in Heaven, lowered the spear and stirred around, and as they lifted up the spear, the brine dripping from the tip of the spear piled up and formed an island. This was the island of Onogoro.

18 Descending from heaven to this island, Izanagi asked his spouse Izanami as to how her body was formed. She replied, "My body is formed in such a way that one spot is not filled." Then Izanagi said, "My body is formed in such a way that there is one spot which is filled in excess. How would it be if I insert the portion of my body which is formed to excess into that portion of your body which is not filled and…

19 give birth to the land. " Izanami replied, "That would be excellent
give birth to the land?" Izanami replied, "That would be excellent." Then Izanagi said, "Let us then walk around the heavenly pillar and meet and have conjugal intercourse.”

20 Shinto & Japanese Mythology
The kami include powers of regeneration and growth, natural phenomena, and ancestral spirits. Of particular importance is the sun goddess Amaterasu, the moon god Tsuki-yomi, and the storm god Susa-no-wo.

21 Buddhism Influence in Japan and Shinto’s Reaction
From the 3rd cent. C.E. Mahayana Buddhism was most popular among the people and thus had greater influence Four responses/reactions by Shinto: 1. Term kami-no-michi was used to distinguish native religion from the foreign religion 2. Recognize Buddha & Badhisattvas as revelation of the kami to Indian & Chinese 3. Ryobu: a syncretism between Shinto & Buddhism 4. Devel. Distinct form of Buddhism one of which is the meditative emphasis of Zen Buddhism

22 Chinese Buddhism’s Influence continued
Reaction 4: Distinctively Japanese forms of Buddhism that developed: Dhyana: emphasized meditation as a means of insight into religious truth Zen: meditative Mahayana Buddhism Pure Land: teaches its devotees can be reborn in a paradise, “Pure Land of the West” Nichiren: sociopolitical sect of Mahayana Buddhism

23 Part III (Hopfe and Woodward) Introduction to Shinto
Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan Kami play a central role in Shinto religious beliefs and practices Some variants of Shinto have been militaristic Sectarian Shinto is the public dimension of Japanese popular religion Domestic Shinto is the household religion of many Japanese

24 History of Shinto 3 Broad Historical Periods: Shinto prior to 300 C.E.
Chinese influence on Shinto (from 300 C.E.) including Buddhism The revival of Shinto (1700 C.E.)

25 Shinto Timeline 522 C.E. Term “Shinto used to distinguish its local religion from Buddhism 8th cent. C.E. Composition of the Shinto classics Shinto is combined with other religions 1700 Revival of the ancient religion 1868 Meji state religion 1887 Buddhism is allowed 1946 State Shinto is abolished

26 Shinto: Two Main Texts Kojiki-Records of the Ancient Matters; it’s a major source of our knowledge of Japanese Mythology Nihongi-Chronicles of Japan (Japanese were non-literate until the Chinese Buddhists arrived the 3rd cent. C.E.)

27 Religion of Japanese People/ History of Shinto BEFORE 300 C.E.
According to the Japanese myths, the myths allowed for a limitless number of gods, goddesses, and spirits, ancestor worship, and various forms of animism. Shrines were established throughout Japan for the worship of the various kami, and shrines were built in individual homes for ancestor AND kami worship. Elaborate temples may not have been built till after 300 C.E. with influence of Buddhism

28 Japanese Mythology: Highlights
The Japanese emperors are descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu

29 Beliefs and Practices (1)
After the foundational belief in the catch-all Kami, comes the foundational belief in the basic goodness of human beings but who operate within the impurity-purity dynamic Shinto rituals are mostly to move the person spiritually from the impure to the pure state

30 Beliefs and Practices (2)
Tsumi--the state of impurity or misfortune Ohari--the Shinto purification ceremony Misogi--the Shinto waterfall purification ritual The goal: harmony (Kannagara) with the kami and with nature

31 Shinto Beliefs: Highlights
Ancestor worship Animism-understood as Kami in the spirits in the objects of nature The kami (gods and spirits) control the universe around them and that respect should be paid to them Amaterasu exercises supreme power of his people The emperors are descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu

32 Shinto Practices: Highlights
Ancestor worship has always been practiced Most Japanese have a shrine in their homes, a kami-dana (“god shelf”) on which they place pictures or symbols of kami and ancestors and relics picked up at a temple Going to Shinto shrines for paying respect to the Kami Visiting sacred places outdoors, especially such places as Mt. Fuji

33 Shinto in the Modern Era
Influences by modern Imperial power, Western influences, Modern industrial, etc.

34 3 Main Forms of Shinto State Shinto – official state religion
Sectarian Shinto – various religious sects Domestic Shinto – practiced in the home

35 State Shinto (1) Following the Constitution of 1889 (Meiji era), the state took over the support of 110,000 Shinto shrines and approximately 16,000 priests who attended these shrines throughout Japan. This version of Shinto (sectarian) became known as Jinja (shrine) to distinguish it from the more religious Skuha versions. Each shrine supported by the state was dedicated to a local deity, hero, or event; the grand imperial shrine was dedicated to the mother goddess of Japan, Amaterasu.

36 State Shinto (2) The visitor approaches the shrine through the distinctive Japanese archway called a torii which is inseparably connected to Shinto But State Shinto was abolished in 1946 when Japan was very humbled by the devastating defeat of World War II

37 Sectarian Shinto During the Meiji era ( ) when the government treated Shinto as a nationalistic and militaristic institution, the religious side of Shinto was forced to identify itself separately and find its own support as well as all other religions in Japan. The 13 major sects of Shinto may be divided into 3 categories: Sects that emphasize mountain worship, sects marked by the basic practices of shamanism and divination among Japanese peasants, and sects that classified themselves as “pure Shinto.”

38 Mt. Fuji

39 Domestic Shinto This is the Shinto practiced in the privacy of homes
The focal point is the kami-dana (“god” shelf), found in many Japanese homes. It contains symbols of whatever is important to that family. It usually contains the names of ancestors, because filial piety is a part of the religion of the household. Offerings of flowers, lanterns, incense, food, and drink may be placed before this altar each day. The ritual may include clapping their hands as a symbol of communication with the spirits, and offer a brief prayer.

40 Kami-dana

41 Japanese Syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism
The ongoing religious practice of Japanese for the majority is a syncretism. When it comes to special religious events such as funerals, the Shinto family will not go to the Shinto priest but to Buddhist priest. Many of their homes will also have a butsu-dan, a Buddhist household altar in addition. The saying is, “Shinto is for this life, but Buddhism is for the life hereafter.” In many rural families, the daily worship at the kami-dana contains elements of ancestor worship and animism

42 Public and Private Shinto
“Shinto” may refer to a multitude of varying Japanese religious & cultural practices. Public Shinto rituals take place in shrines throughout Japan. Private family rituals are carried out in small shrines in Japanese homes.

43 Japanese Festivals Japanese holidays are a combination of secular, agricultural, Buddhist, and Shinto celebrations. All sources blend together. New Year (Shogatsu)-the most widely celebrated holiday (Jan. 1-6) Buddha’s Birthday-April 8 All Souls’ Day (Ullambana)-mid. July Autumn Festival (Niiname-sai)-Nov. 23

44 Shinto Today Post-WWII with the abolishing of State Shinto has left the future of Shinto uncertain. The 2nd “threat” was Japan’s rapid industrialization. It might seem like it has little chance of survival. It has faced its old rival, Buddhism. Most Japanese think of themselves primarily as Buddhists. Shinto is viewed as a secondary practice.

45 Shinto Terms/Concepts in Review (1)
Shinto-Lit. from Chinese Shin (gods) and Dao (way), “Way of the gods” Kami-simplistically “gods” Kami-no-michi-the preferred Japanese name for their religion, means “way of the gods” Amaterasu-sun goddess; important kami in Japanese mythology Tsumi—impurity or misfortune resolved but purification ritual Ohari—Shinto purification ceremony Misogi—Shinto waterfall purification ritual Kannagara—harmony with the way of the kami

46 Shinto Terms/Concepts in Review (2)
Kojiki—Japanese Mythology text dating to 8th cent. C.E. Nihongi--Japanese Chronicles dating to 8th cent. C.E. State Shinto—official state religion, abolished in 1946 Sectarian Shinto—several religious sects of Shinto including faith healing and syncretistic groups blending Buddhism Domestic Shinto—practiced in the home

47 Summarizing Shinto: Hopfe and Woodward summary (1):
“A loosely organized native Japanese religion, embraces a wide variety of beliefs and practices. The variety is so wide it is difficult to define Shinto precisely…. In one sense, Shinto is a religious form of Japanese nationalism. Its mythology describes the formation of Japan as a land superior to all other lands; its shrines commemorate the great heroes and events in the history of Japan.

48 Summarizing Shinto: Hopfe and Woodward summary (2):
Western commentators have frequently compared Japanese Shinto to the feeling that Americans have when visiting Gettysburg or the Washington Monument, or the visiting of graves on Memorial Day. But Shinto is more than religious nationalism. It involves a worshipful attitude toward the beauties of their land, particularly mountains & forests. It includes aspects of Animism and Ancestor Worship.

49 Discussion Questions Is there a major difference of the polytheism and animism of the ancient Japanese people (that became Shinto) from other ancient cultures,e.g. African, Native American, Aryan, Greek, etc.? Discuss Shinto as a reverential form of Japanese patriotism and as a religion. Can the two be clearly distinguished? Why do you think Shinto leaders claimed that Buddha was a revelation of the kami to the Indian and Chinese people? What could be the human motivation in this?

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