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Shintoism by William Tran

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on 6 March 2015

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Transcript of Shintoism by William Tran

In the beginning, there was nothing. Space
was filled with particles, merely a cloud. Suddenly, this cloud split. The lighter particles rose and formed heaven. The heaver sank and became what we would know as earth. In the midst of this formation, gods known as kami appeared.
Worship of Kami
Worship of kami and commemorating ancestors is an important aspect of life, as it brings protection and honour to one’s own family, and maintains one’s purity of life. This is a central aspect of life, because Shintoism puts so much significance on the world of the kami, and of the spiritual world that ancestors now occupy and watch their families from.
Izanami and Izanagi
Seven more generations of kami appeared.

The last of these, Izanagi and his younger sister/spouse, Izanami, were tasked to bring order to chaos on earth by the great kami. Izanagi and Izanami used a special spear to turn the chaotic matter on earth into new islands that would form the first land on earth.

Their children became the eight great islands of the Japanese archipelago and parts of the world, such as the sea, mountains, trees, and war. This is how the world came to be.
Birth of the World
Omiyamairi
Omiyamairi
Omiyamairi
Shinto has its own version of a baptism, called omiyamairi. This is usually performed a month after the baby’s birth. The baby wears a special garment adorned with bright colours. At a Shinto shrine, the priest in attendance chants a prayer at the altar, introducing the baby, the family, and asks for health, happiness, and protection from the kami.The priest waves a large featherduster-like object known as an
onusa
left and right over the altar, then over the parents and the baby. Then, either the priest or one of his female assistants, known as
miko
, rattle an instrument that is decorated with many small bells called
suzu
over the baby and around the parents. The family then offers a
tamagushi
to the kami as a gesture of goodwill and thanksgiving. After the offering, the priest dismisses all who are present and all in attendance are given sake (rice wine) in a small cup. The family are given small gifts, mainly omamori, ema, ceramic models, etc.
Life After Death
Shintoists hold the belief that within the human existence is a spirit, a kami. While the body could be subject to death, to an end, the spirit would live on in an invisible spirit world; a separate universe that was not visible from the earthly human world. The spirit world was made up of various domains like Takamano-hara (kami heaven, essentially) and Yomi (the underworld). The spirit world is essentially, the exact same as the human world. The spirits of the dead are not reincarnated. They remain in the afterlife where, if they lived very pure and remarkable lives, they may become kami of certain aspects of the human life.
Purity and Ancestors
While there is generally no punishment believed to await those who die after living impure or dishonourable lives in the spirit world, Shintoists are encouraged to lead good lives and take part in purification ceremonies to rectify any impurities they may have in leading their lives, because this worldly filth would carry on into the family name and could potentially bring misfortune upon their descendants. It is believed that ancestral spirits watch over their descendants, protecting them, and would continue to do so as long as they were revered in religious festivals and home worship.
Origins of the World
and Worship of Kami
Religious Ceremony: Omiyamairi
Life After Death
Shintoism
Izanami and Izanagi harnessed the power of the spear gifted to them by the gods to create the home islands of Japan, beginning life on earth.
Konohara-sakuya is the kami of Mt. Fuji, a famous part of the Japanese landscape
Ihai, or the vessel for holding the ashes of a deceased relative in the house (left), and a home shrine (above)

- During the ceremony, the baby is traditionally in the arms of the grandmother, as Shintoists believe that the mother is impure from childbirth and is recovering from fatigue.
- An onusa is also used in purification rituals known as harae, so the onusa waving is in the hope of purifying the baby and the family and to ward off evil spirits from causing harm to the baby and the family.
- A tamagushi is usually offered by the father (as the titular head of the family, or patriarch, and is symbolically the primary guardian on the child’s behalf) on the altar.
- After the offering of the tamagushi and before the dismissal of the assembly, those in attendance and the priest then bow twice at the altar, clap twice, and bow twice again. This is a sign of respect, welcoming the kami and showing appreciation for their presence
- The suzu bells are to scare away any evil spirits and protect the family.
- A tamagushi is a branch of the sakaki tree with shide strips of paper or some fabric attached to it.
- The tamagushi is a representation of the kami (as kami are considered to dwell in all physical things), so in a way, its offering is a symbol of giving back to the kami what belongs to it, in an expression of gratitude and righteousness.
Two artistic impressions of Sugawara no Michizane, a Japanese diplomat who is believed to have become Tenman Tenjin, the kami of education, after his death.
Sacred Site and Objects
Ise Shrine
Lucky Charms
The Ise Shrine is considered the holiest shrine in all Japan by Shintoists. Although, it is a complex of shrines in reality.
The shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu-omikami, the kami of the sun, and the greatest goddess kami in the Shinto faith.
It is also significant in that it is the family shrine of the Imperial family of Japan, who believe they are descended from Amaterasu. The Imperial flag of Japan is proof of this belief, showing a rising sun.
Every twenty years, the shrine is rebuilt on an adjacent plot of land. The old shrine is then torn down.
This is an expression of a core concept of Shintoism: renewal and impermanency. Everything is lost and renewed over time. Nothing lasts forever, everything will find an end to itself.
Omamori are talismans that purportedly grant luck to the bearer in specific fields (such as education, business, safety, etc.). They reflect the quality of renewal in that they must be disposed of at a Shinto shrine after a certain time period or else they will be vessels of bad luck.
Omamori
Disposal of
Omamori
Omikuji are strips of paper with a fortune on them, randomly drawn from a box. It gives a general idea of how good a person’s fortune supposedly is, using ‘blessings’ and ‘curses’. The person who drew the omikuji can choose to either take it with them or hang it up on a fence within the Shinto shrine. Hanging it up holds a symbolic meaning: placing your bad luck within the omikuji and leaving it behind.
Omikuji hung up at a shrine
Omikuji
Ema are wooden blocks on which people can write their wishes and desires and hang them up in the shrine, in the hope that they will be granted by the great kami of the shrine.
Ema
Thanks for watching!
This is an image of a torii. A torii is a traditional Japanese gateway that is normally found at the entrance of Shinto shrines. It signifies the border between the human world and the divine world, or 'holy ground'. When someone walks through a torii towards a shrine, they have entered the realm of the kami. The true origins of the torii is disputed, but the main theories that hold are closely linked to Buddhism and its interaction and mutual coexistence with Shintoism in Japan, mainly based on examples of Indian architecture where Buddhism originated from.
Informational Bibliography
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