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Shintoism

World Religions Semster Two Final Presentation on Shintoism
by

Kathryn Foster

on 10 May 2010

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Transcript of Shintoism

SHINTOISM Orgins Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion. Starting about 500 BCE it was originally a mix of nature worship, fertility cults, divination techniques, hero worship, and shamanism. Its name was derived from the Chinese words "shin tao" ("The Way of the Gods") in the 8th Century CE. During this time, Yamato dynasty consolidated its rule over most of Japan, and the imperial family was considered divine.
Shinto became the official religion of Japan, along with Buddhism. The relationship between religion and politics continued until after World War II, when the Emperor was forced to renounce his holy status.


Unlike most other religions, Shinto has no real founder, no written scriptures, no body of religious law, and only a very loosely-organized priesthood. Shinto Deities In Shintoism, the gods or deities are called "Kami".
Many figures are celebrated, such as

Izanagi-no-mikoto and Izanami-no-mikoto, a divine couple who gave birth to the Japanese islands. Their children became the deities of the various Japanese clans.
Amaterasu Omikami, the Sun Goddess, who was one of the divine couple's children. She is the ancestress of the Imperial Family and is regarded as the chief deity. Her shrine is at Ise, and her descendants unified the country.
Susano, her brother, came down from heaven and roamed throughout the earth. He is famous for killing a great evil serpent.

Gods in Shintoism are unlike most monotheistic gods in that there are no characteristics such as "all-seeing, all-knowing", omnipotence, or seperation of "God" and humanity due to sin.
Many Shinto gods are conceptualized. They are guardians of certain Japanese clans and areas, connected to natural objects, and in some cases are exceptional mortals (such as royalty). They are generally not destructive, but instead watch over the people.
Shinto Beliefs There are many parallels between Shintoism and other religions in the region. Shintos tend to follow the moral guidelines of Confucianism, but also do what is best for the group or majority. Many practicing Shintos overlap traditions and practices of Buddhism. The Buddha is viewed as another Kami. In Shintoism, the afterlife is a bit vague. Although their religious texts tell of a "High Plain of Heaven" and a "Dark Place", many details are not disclosed.
Ancestors are deeply revered and worshipped, and
all of humanity is regarded as "Kami's child." All human life and human nature is sacred.
"Musuhi", the creative and harmonizing powers, are viewed as very important.
They aspire to have "makoto", sincerity or true heart. This is regarded as the way or will of Kami.
There are "Four Affirmations"in Shinto:

Tradition and the family: The family is seen as the main mechanism by which traditions are preserved. Their main celebrations relate to birth and marriage.
Love of nature: Nature is sacred; to be in contact with nature is to be close to the Gods. Natural objects are worshipped as sacred spirits.
Physical cleanliness: Followers of Shinto take baths, wash their hands, and rinse out their mouth often.
"Matsuri": The worship and honor given to the Kami and ancestral spirits. Shinto Practices SHRINES:
Each shrine is dedicated to a specific Kami who has a divine personality and responds to sincere prayers of the faithful. When entering a shrine, you pass through a Tori, a special gateway for the Gods. It marks the transition between the finite world and the infinite world of the Gods. Believers respect animals as messengers of the Gods. A pair of statues of "Koma-inu" (guard dogs) face each other within the temple grounds.
In the past, believers practiced "misogi,", the washing of their bodies in a river near the shrine. In recent years they only wash their hands and wash out their mouths in a wash basin provided within the shrine grounds.
Shrine ceremonies, which include cleansing, offerings, prayers, and dances are directed to the Kami.
An altar, the "Kami-dana" (Shelf of Gods), is given a central place in many homes.
Followers are expected to visit Shinto shrines at the times of various life passages. For example, the Shichigosan Matsuri involves a blessing by the shrine Priest of girls aged three and seven and boys aged five. It is held on November 15th. Other Rituals:

"Kagura" are ritual dances accompanied by ancient musical instruments. The dances are performed by skilled and trained dancers. They consist of young virgin girls, a group of men, or a single man.
"Mamori" are charms worn as an aid in healing and protection. They come in many different forms for various purposes.
"Origami" ("Paper of the spirits"): This is a Japanese
folk art in which paper is folded into beautiful shapes.
They are often seen around Shinto shrines. Out of respect for the tree spirit that gave its life to make the paper, origami paper is never cut. Holidays and Celebrations:

Seasonal celebrations are held at spring planting, fall harvest, and special anniversaries of the history of a shrine or of a local patron spirit.
A secular, country-wide National Founding Day is held on FEB-11 to commemorate the founding of Japan; this is the traditional date on which the first (mythical) emperor Jinmu ascended the throne in 660 BCE. Some shrines are believed to hold festivities on that day.
January 1st through 3rd is Shogatsu, or the New Year
March 3rd is Hinamatsuri, or the Girls' festival
May 5th is Tango no Sekku, or the Boys' festival
July 7th is Hoshi Matsuri, or the Star festival
Many followers are involved in the "offer a meal movement," in which each individual bypasses a breakfast (or another meal) once per month and donates the money saved to their religious organization for international relief and similar activity.
Shinto Sects and Texts There are four main sects of Shintoism:

Koshitsu Shinto (The Shinto of the Imperial House): This involves rituals performed by the emperor, who the Japanese Constitution defines to be the "symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." The most important ritual is Niinamesai, which makes an offering to the deities of the first fruits of each year's grain harvest. Male and female clergy (Shoten and Nai-Shoten) assist the emperor in the performance of these rites.
Jinja (Shrine) Shinto: This is the largest Shinto group. It was the original form of the religion; its roots date back into pre-history. Until the end of World War II, it was closely aligned with State Shinto. The Emperor of Japan was worshipped as a living God. Almost all shrines in Japan are members of Jinja Honcho, the Association of Shinto Shrines. It currently includes about 80,000 shrines as members. The association urges followers of Shinto:
"To be grateful for the blessings of Kami and the benefits of the ancestors, and to be diligent in the observance of the Shinto rites, applying oneself to them with sincerity. brightness, and purity of heart."
"To be helpful to others and in the world at large through deeds of service without thought of rewards, and to seek the advancement of the world as one whose life mediates the will of Kami."
"To bind oneself with others in harmonious acknowledgment of the will of the emperor, praying that the country may flourish and that other peoples too may live in peace
and prosperity."
Kyoha (Sectarian) Shinto (aka Shuha Shinto): This consists of 13 sects which were founded by individuals since the start of the 19th century. Each sect has its own beliefs and doctrines. Most emphasize worship of their own central deity; some follow a near-monotheistic religion.
Minzoku (Folk) Shinto This is not a separate Shinto group; it has no formal central organization or creed. It is seen in local rural practices and rituals, e.g. small images by the side of the road, agriculture rituals practiced by individual families, etc. A rural community will often select a layman annually, who will be responsible for worshiping the local deity.

Religious Texts Include:
The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters)
The Rokkokushi (Six National Histories)
The Shoku Nihongi and its Nihon Shoki (Continuing Chronicles of Japan)
The Jinno Shotoki (a study of Shinto and Japanese politics and history) written in the 14th century



Symbolism
The mirror, the sword and the jewel have a figurative meaning in the course of the development of Shinto. They symbolize wisdom, courage and intelligence, will and love in Shinto theology. These three are the holy symbols of royalty of the Sovereign Emperor. They are supposed to symbolize the dynamic working of the Great Way (the way one should lead one's life) and so they are found in the forefront of every Shinto shrine, popularly known as "Mistu-tomo-e" or the three big commas.

The Ten Commandments of Shintoism:

Do not transgress the will of the gods.
Do not forget your obligations to ancestors.
Do not offend by violating the decrees of the State.
Do not forget the profound goodness of the, gods, through which calamity and misfortunes are averted and sickness is healed.
Do not forget that the world is one great family.
Do not forget the limitations of your own person.
Do not become angry even though others become angry.
Do not be sluggish in your work.
Do not bring blame to the teaching.
Do not be carried away by foreign teachings.



Other important aspects of Shintoism:
Shinto priests perform Shinto rituals and often live on the shrine grounds. Men and women can become priests, and they are allowed to marry and have children. Priests are aided by younger women (miko) during rituals and shrine tasks. Miko wear white kimono, must be unmarried, and are often the priests' daughters.
Calligraphy is an important part of ancient Japanese art and religion.
The Shinto religion has a very small following the the US, as it is important to be of Japanese desent to really understand the concepts of Shintoism.


The End By: Paige Sparks
Period 4 World Religions- Seaholm
Full transcript