Amaterasu, Amaterasu-ōmikami, or Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami is a deity of the Japanese myth cycle and a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is seen as the goddess of the universe; the name Amaterasu is derived from Amateru and means "shining in heaven". The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is "the great august kami who shines in the heaven". According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in Japanese mythology, the Emperors of Japan are considered to be direct descendants of Amaterasu. Records of the worship of Amaterasu are found from the c. 712 CE Kojiki and c. 720 CE Nihon Shoki, the oldest records of Japanese history. In Japanese mythology, the goddess of the sun, is the sister of Susanoo, the god of storms and the sea, of Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon, it was written that Amaterasu had painted the landscape with her siblings while she created ancient Japan. Amaterasu was said to have been created by the divine couple Izanagi and Izanami, who were themselves created by, or grew from, the originator of the Universe, Amenominakanushi.
All three deities were born from Izanagi when he was purifying himself upon entering Yomi, the underworld, after breaking the promise not to see dead Izanami and he was chased by her and Yakusan-no-ikaduchigami, surrounding rotten Izanami. Amaterasu was born when Izanagi washed out his left eye, Tsukuyomi was born from the washing of the right eye, Susanoo from the washing of the nose. Amaterasu became the ruler of the sun and the heavens along with her brother, Tsukuyomi as the ruler of the night, Susanoo as the ruler of the seas. Amaterasu shared the sky with Tsukuyomi, her husband and brother until, out of disgust, he killed the goddess of food, Uke Mochi, when she pulled "food from her rectum and mouth"; this killing upset Amaterasu causing her to split away from him. The texts tell of a long-standing rivalry between Amaterasu and her other brother, Susanoo. Susanoo is said to have insulted claiming she had no power over the higher realm; when Izanagi ordered him to leave Heaven, he went to bid his sister goodbye.
Amaterasu was suspicious, but when Susanoo proposed a challenge to prove his sincerity, she accepted. Each of them took an object belonging from it, birthed deities. Amaterasu birthed three women from Susanoo's sword. Claiming the gods were hers because they were born of her necklace, the goddesses were his, she decided that she had won the challenge, as his item produced women. After Susanoo's defeat he went on a rampage destroying much of the heavenly and earthly realm, Amaterasu's rice fields, hurled a flayed pony at her loom, killing one of her attendants in a fit of rage. Amaterasu, in fury and grief, hid inside the Ama-no-Iwato, plunging the earth into darkness and chaos, she was persuaded to leave the cave. Omoikane threw a party outside of the Ama-no-Iwato to lure Amaterasu out but it was not until the Goddess Ame-no-Uzume danced promiscuously outside of the cave that Amaterasu came out. Susanoo was punished by being banished from heaven. Both amended their conflict when Susanoo gave her the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi sword as a reconciliation gift.
According to legend, responsible from keeping balance and harmony within the earthly realm, bequeathed to her descendant Ninigi: the mirror, Yata no Kagami. Collectively, the sacred mirror and sword became the three Imperial Regalia of Japan; the Ise Shrine located in Ise, Mie Prefecture, houses the inner shrine, dedicated to Amaterasu. Her sacred mirror, Yata no Kagami, is said to be kept at this shrine as one of the imperial regalia objects. A ceremony known as Shikinen Sengu is held every twenty years at this shrine to honor the many deities enshrined, formed by 125 shrines altogether. At that time, new shrine buildings are built at a location adjacent to the site first. After the transfer of the object of worship, new clothing and treasure and offering food to the goddess the old buildings are taken apart; the building materials taken apart are given to buildings to renovate. This practice is a part of the Shinto faith and has been practiced since the year 690, but is not only for Amaterasu but for many other deities enshrined in Ise Shrine.
The Amanoiwato Shrine in Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan is dedicated to Amaterasu and sits above the gorge containing Ama-no-Iwato. The worship of Amaterasu to the exclusion of other kami has been described as "the cult of the sun"; this phrase may refer to the early pre-archipelagoan worship of the sun. Himiko Shinto in popular culture Sól Surya Vairocana Zalmoxis Ōkami Amaterasu, fictional character from video game Ōkami
Nakazonae is a Japanese classification of several intercolumnar struts of different origin installed in the intervals between bracket complexes at wooden architectures in East Asia. In origin they were necessary to help support the roof, they remained in use, albeit in a purely decorative role, are typical of the Wayō style. The Zenshūyō style used by Zen temples has instead bracket complexes between posts; the simplest of these struts are the kentozuka composed of a bearing block. Similar to the kentozuka is the fan-shaped strut called minozuka, which can have decorations on the two sides called 笈形 or a collar-like decoration between post and bearing block; the name comes from similar to that of a traditional straw raincoat called mino. A variant of the hijiki or timu is the hana-hijiki, composed by either one or two horizontal series bearing blocks standing over an elaborately carved floral pattern; the 人-shaped dougong warizuka strut consists of a wooden inverted V topped by a bearing block.
The kaerumata or tuofeng was named after its shape. Its origins are not known with certainty. Invented during the 12th century, it became more and more elaborate, to the point where in the Edo period the strut itself would be hidden behind the decorations. Two basic types exist. In the case of the sukashi-kaerumata, the space above and between the frog legs is either empty or carved. In the case of the ita-kaerumata, the space between the legs has disappeared, leaving behind a solid board with an external frog-leg profile
A hokora or hokura is a miniature Shinto shrine either found on the precincts of a larger shrine and dedicated to folk kami, or on a street side, enshrining kami not under the jurisdiction of any large shrine. Dōsojin, minor kami protecting travelers from evil spirits, can for example be enshrined in a hokora; the term hokora, believed to have been one of the first Japanese words for Shinto shrine, evolved from hokura meaning "kami repository", a fact that seems to indicate that the first shrines were huts built to house some yorishiro. Setsumatsusha
A chōzuya or temizuya is a Shinto water ablution pavilion for a ceremonial purification rite known as temizu. Water-filled basins, called chōzubachi, are used by worshippers for washing their left hands, right hands and the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto shrine or shaden; this symbolic purification is normal before worship and all manned shrines have this facility, as well as many Buddhist temples and some new religious houses of worship. The temizuya is an open area where clear water fills one or various stone basins. Wooden dippers are available to worshippers; this purification was done at a spring, stream or seashore and this is still considered the ideal. Worshippers at the Inner Shrine at Ise still use this traditional way of ablution. Chōzubachi Glossary of Shinto Misogi, a Shinto ritual of full-body purification Ritual purification Wudhu Ablution in Christianity
Komainu called lion-dogs in English, are statue pairs of lion-like creatures either guarding the entrance or the honden, or inner shrine of many Japanese Shinto shrines or kept inside the inner shrine itself, where they are not visible to the public. The first type, born during the Edo period, is called sandō komainu, the second and much older type jinnai komainu, they can sometimes be found at Buddhist temples, nobility residences or private homes. Meant to ward off evil spirits, modern komainu statues are identical, but one has the mouth open, the other closed; the two forms are referred to collectively as a-un. This is a common characteristic in religious statue pairs at both temples and shrines; the pattern is Buddhist in origin and has a symbolic meaning: The open mouth is pronouncing the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, pronounced "a", while the closed one is uttering the last letter, pronounced "um", to represent the beginning and the end of all things. Together they form the sound Aum, a syllable sacred in several religions like Hinduism and Jainism.
Komainu resemble Chinese guardian lions and in fact originate from Tang dynasty China. The Chinese guardian lions are believed to have been influenced by lion pelts and lion depictions introduced through trade from either the Middle East or India, countries where the lion existed and was a symbol of strength. During its transportation along the Silkroad, the symbol changed, acquiring a distinctive look; the first lion statue in India appears around the 3rd century BC on top of a column erected by King Ashoka. The tradition arrived in China where it developed into the guardian lion, exported to Korea and Okinawa. During the Nara period, as in the rest of Asia, the pair always consisted of two lions. Used only indoors until the 14th century, they were made of wood. During the Heian period, for example, wooden or metal pairs were employed as weights and door-stops, while at the Imperial Palace they were used to support screens or folding screens. During the early Heian period, the tradition changed and the two statues started to be different and be called differently.
One was called shishi because, as before, it resembled that animal. The other had its mouth closed, looked rather like a dog, was called komainu, or "Goguryeo dog", sometimes had a single horn on its head; the animals returned to be identical, but for their mouths, ended up being called both komainu. Ubiquitous as they are now at shrines, Komainu have been used outdoors only since the 14th century. In Asia, the lion was popularly believed to have the power to repel evil, for this reason it was habitually used to guard gates and doors. In Japan, too it ended up being installed at the entrance of shrines and temples next to the lion-dog; as a protection against exposure to Japan's rainy weather, the komainu started being carved in stone. The shīsā, the stone animals that in Okinawa guard the gates or the roofs of houses, are close relatives of the shishi and the komainu, objects whose origin and symbolic meaning they share, their name itself is centuries old regional variant of shishi-san. Starting from the Edo period other animals have been used instead of lions or dogs, among others wild boars, tigers and foxes.
The most frequent variant of the komainu theme is the fox, guardian of shrines dedicated to kami Inari. There are about 30 thousand Inari shrines in Japan, the entrance of each is guarded by a pair of fox statues. One, sometimes both, has a sūtra roll, a key or a jewel in its mouth; the statues do not symbolize the animals' proverbial malice, but the magic powers they are believed to possess. Sometimes the guardians are painted, in that case they are always white. White foxes are messengers of the kami, sometimes himself believed to be, portrayed as, a fox. Although visible genitals are rare, the left fox is believed to be the right one female; the foxes wear red votive bibs similar to those worn by statues of other deities, for example Buddhist god Jizō, from which one expects some kind of favor in return. In this case however the bibs seem to be purely a rite. Chinese guardian lions Kitsune Chinthe Xiezhi Nio Media related to Inari fox statues at Wikimedia Commons "JAANUS". On-line Dictionary of Japanese Architectural and Art Historical Terminology.
"Lion-dogs". Kyoto National Museum Dictionary. Retrieved 16 July 2010. Mihashi, Ken. "Komainu". Shogakukan Encyclopedia online. Yahoo. Retrieved 16 July 2010. Kanechiku, Nobuyuki. "Shishi". Shogakukan Encyclopedia online. Retrieved 16 July 2010. Kotera, Yoshiaki. "Komainu". Japanese Religions. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2010. Nakayama, Kaoru. "Komainu". Encyclopedia of Shinto. Kokugakuin University. Retrieved 27 December 2010. Scheid, Bernhard. "Inari Fuchswächter". University of Vienna. Retrieved 30 July 2010. "Shisa Travelogue". Okinawa Prefectural Government. Retrieved 18 July 2010. Smyers, Karen Ann; the Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2102-5. OCLC 231775156
A Shinto shrine is a structure whose main purpose is to house one or more kami. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects, not for worship. Although only one word is used in English, in Japanese Shinto shrines may carry any one of many different, non-equivalent names like gongen, -gū, jingū, mori, myōjin, -sha, ubusuna or yashiro. Structurally, a Shinto shrine is characterized by the presence of a honden or sanctuary, where the kami is enshrined; the honden may however be absent, as for example when the shrine stands on a sacred mountain to which it is dedicated, and, worshiped directly. The honden may be missing when there are nearby altar-like structures called himorogi or objects believed capable of attracting spirits called yorishiro that can serve as a direct bond to a kami. There may be a haiden and other structures as well. However, a shrine's most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects rather than for worship. Miniature shrines can be found on roadsides.
Large shrines sometimes have on their precincts miniature shrines. The portable shrines which are carried on poles during festivals enshrine kami and are therefore true shrines. In 927 CE, the Engi-shiki was promulgated; this work listed all of the 2,861 Shinto shrines existing at the time, the 3,131 official-recognized and enshrined Kami. That number has grown and exceeded this figure through the following generations. In Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan placed the number of shrines at 79,467 affiliated with the Association of Shinto Shrines; some shrines, such as the Yasukuni Shrine are independent of any outside authority. The number of Shinto shrines in Japan is estimated to be around 100,000; this figure may, or may not, include private shrines in homes and owned by small groups, abandoned or derelict shrines, roadside Hokora. etc. Ancestors are kami to be worshiped. Yayoi-period village councils sought the advice of ancestors and other kami, developed instruments to evoke them. Yoshishiro means "approach substitute" and were conceived to attract the kami to allow them physical space, thus making kami accessible to human beings.
Village-council sessions were held in quiet spots in the mountains or in forests near great trees or other natural objects that served as yorishiro. These sacred places and their yorishiro evolved into today's shrines, whose origins can be still seen in the Japanese words for "mountain" and "forest", which can mean "shrine". Many shrines have on their grounds one of the original great yorishiro: a big tree, surrounded by a sacred rope called shimenawa; the first buildings at places dedicated to worship were huts built to house some yorishiro. A trace of this origin can be found in the term hokura, "deity storehouse", which evolved into hokora, is considered to be one of the first words for shrine. True shrines arose with the beginning of agriculture, when the need arose to attract kami to ensure good harvests; these were, just temporary structures built for a particular purpose, a tradition of which traces can be found in some rituals. Hints of the first shrines can still be found there. Ōmiwa Shrine in Nara, for example, contains no sacred images or objects because it is believed to serve the mountain on which it stands.
Those images or objects are therefore unnecessary. For the same reason, it has a worship hall but no place to house the kami. Archeology confirms that, during the Yayoi period, the most common shintai in the earliest shrines were nearby mountain peaks that supplied stream water to the plains where people lived. Besides the mentioned Ōmiwa Shrine, another important example is Mount Nantai, a phallus-shaped mountain in Nikko which constitutes Futarasan Shrine's shintai; the name Nantai means "man's body". The mountain not only provides water to the rice paddies below but has the shape of the phallic stone rods found in pre-agricultural Jōmon sites. In 905 CE, Emperor Daigo ordered a compilation of Shinto rules. Previous attempts at codification are known to have taken place, neither the Konin nor the Jogan Gishiki survive. Under the direction of Fujiwara no Tokihira, the project stalled at his death in April 909. Fujiwara no Tadahira, his brother, took charge and in 912 CE and in 927 CE the Engi-shiki was promulgated in fifty volumes.
This, the first formal codification of Shinto rites and Norito to survive, became the basis for all subsequent Shinto liturgical practice and efforts. In addition to the first ten volumes of this fifty volume work, sections in subsequent volumes addressing the Ministry of Ceremonies and the Ministry of the Imperial Household regulated Shinto worship and contained liturgical rites and regulation. Felicia Gressitt Brock published a two-volume annotated English language translation of the first ten volumes with an introduction entitled Engi-shiki; the arrival of Buddhism changed the situation, introducing to Japan the concept of the permanent shrine. A great number of Buddhist temples were built next to existing shrines in mixed complexes called jingū-ji (神宮寺, lit. shri
Shinto architecture is the architecture of Japanese Shinto shrines. With a few exceptions, the general blueprint of a Shinto shrine is Buddhist in origin. Before Buddhism, shrines were just temporary. Buddhism brought to Japan the idea of permanent shrines and much of Shinto architecture's vocabulary; the presence of verandas, stone lanterns, elaborate gates are examples of this influence. The composition of a Shinto shrine is variable, none of its possible features are present; the honden or sanctuary, the part which houses the kami and, the centerpiece of a shrine, can be missing. However, since its grounds are sacred, they are surrounded by a fence made of stone or wood called tamagaki, while access is made possible by an approach called sandō; the entrances themselves are straddled by gates called torii, which are therefore the simplest way to identify a Shinto shrine. A shrine may include within its grounds each destined to a different purpose. Among them are the honden or sanctuary, where the kami are enshrined, the heiden, or hall of offerings, where offers and prayers are presented, the haiden or hall of worship, where there may be seats for worshipers.
The honden is the building that contains the shintai "the sacred body of the kami". Of these, only the haiden is open to the laity; the honden is located behind the haiden and is much smaller and unadorned. Other notable shrine features are the temizuya, the fountain where visitors cleanse their hands and mouth and the shamusho, the office that supervises the shrine. Shrines can be large, as for example Ise Shrine, or as small as a beehive, as in the case of the hokora, small shrines found on road sides. Before the forced separation of Shinto and Buddhism, it was not uncommon for a Buddhist temple to be built inside or next to a shrine or to the contrary for a shrine to include Buddhist subtemples. If a shrine was a Buddhist temple, it was called a jingu-ji. At the same time, temples in the entire country adopted tutelary kami (chinju and built temple shrines called chinjusha to house them. After the forcible separation of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines ordered by the new government in the Meiji period, the connection between the two religions was severed, but continued nonetheless in practice.
The practice of marking sacred areas began in Japan as early as the Yayoi period originating from primal Shinto tenets. Features in the landscape such as rocks, waterfalls and mountains, were places believed to be capable of attracting kami, subsequently were worshiped as yorishiro. Sacred places may have been marked with a surrounding fence and an entrance gate or torii. Temporary buildings similar to present day portable shrines were constructed to welcome the gods to the sacred place. Over time the temporary structures evolved into permanent structures that were dedicated to the gods. Ancient shrines were constructed according to the style of storehouses; the buildings had gabled roofs, raised floors, plank walls, were thatched with reed or covered with hinoki cypress bark. Such early shrines did not include a space for worship. Three important forms of ancient shrine architectural styles exist: taisha-zukuri, shinmei-zukuri and sumiyoshi-zukuri They are exemplified by Izumo Taisha, Nishina Shinmei Shrine and Sumiyoshi Taisha and date to before 552.
According to the tradition of Shikinen sengū-sai, the buildings or shrines were faithfully rebuilt at regular intervals adhering to the original design. In this manner, ancient styles have been replicated through the centuries to the present day; the following is a diagram illustrating the most important elements of a Shinto shrine. Torii – Shinto gate Stone stairs Sandō – the approach to the shrine Chōzuya or temizuya – fountain to cleanse one's hands and face Tōrō – decorative stone lanterns Kagura-den – building dedicated to Noh or the sacred kagura dance Shamusho – the shrine's administrative office Ema – wooden plaques bearing prayers or wishes Sessha/massha – small auxiliary shrines Komainu – the so-called "lion dogs", guardians of the shrine Haiden – oratory Tamagaki – fence surrounding the honden Honden – main hall, enshrining the kami. On the roof of the haiden and honden are visible chigi and katsuogi, both common shrine ornamentations; the torii is a gate which marks the entrance to a sacred area but not a shrine.
A shrine may have any number of torii made of wood, metal, concrete or any other material. They can be found in different places within a shrine's precincts to signify an increased level of holiness. Torii can be found at Buddhist temples, however they are an accepted symbol of Shinto, as such are used to mark shrines on maps; the origin of the torii is unclear, no existing theory has been accepted as valid. They may for example have originated in India as a derivative of the torana gates in the monastery of Sanchi, located in central India; the sandō is the road approaching either a Buddhist temple. Its point of origin is straddled in the first case by a Shinto torii, in the second by a Buddhist sanmon, gates which mark the beginning of the shrine's or temple territory. There can be stone lanterns and other decorations at any point along its course. There can be more than one sandō, in which case the main one is called omote-sandō, or front sandō, ura-sandō, or rear sandō, etc. B