Association of Shinto Shrines
The Association of Shinto Shrines is a religious administrative organisation that oversees about 80,000 Shinto shrines in Japan. These shrines take the Ise Grand Shrine as the foundation of their belief; the association has five major activities, in addition to numerous others: Publication and dissemination of information on Shrine Shinto The performance of rituals. It has an administrative structure including a main office and branches, its headquarters in Yoyogi, Tokyo, adjacent to Meiji Shrine. Its leadership includes the head priestess of the Ise Shrine, presently Sayako Kuroda; the tōri is Kuniaki Kuni, the post of sōchō or Secretary-General is held by Masami Yatabe, the chief priest of the Mishima Shrine. The association maintains regional offices in every prefecture, they handle financial and personnel matters for member shrines. The association was established following the Surrender of Japan at the end of World War II. On 15 December 1945, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers issued the Shinto Directive, ordering the Disestablishment of Shinto as a state religion.
On February 2, 1946, to comply with the SCAP order, three organizations – the Kōten Kōkyūjo, Dainippon Jingikai, Jingū Hōsaikai – established the nongovernmental Association, assuming the functions of the Jingi-in, a branch of the Home Ministry. The association is a successful lobbyist. Shinto This article incorporates material in 神社本庁 in the Japanese Wikipedia, retrieved on January 27, 2008. Official website
Buddhism in Japan
Buddhism in Japan has been practiced since its official introduction in 552 CE according to the Nihon Shoki from Baekje, Korea, by Buddhist monks. Buddhism has had a major influence on the development of Japanese society and remains an influential aspect of the culture to this day. In modern times, Japan's popular schools of Buddhism are Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism and Zen; as of 2008 34% of the Japanese identify as Buddhists and the number has been growing since the 1980s, in terms of membership in organized religion. However, in terms of practice, 75% practice some form of Buddhism. About 60% of the Japanese have a Butsudan in their homes; the arrival of Buddhism in China is a consequence of the first contacts between China and Central Asia, where Buddhism had spread from the Indian subcontinent. These contacts occurred with the opening of the Silk Road in the 2nd century BCE, following the travels of Zhang Qian between 138 and 126 BCE; these contacts culminated with the official introduction of Buddhism in China in 67 CE.
Historians agree that by the middle of the 1st century, the religion had penetrated to areas north of the Huai River in China. According to the Book of Liang, written in 635, five Buddhist monks from Gandhara traveled to Japan in 467. At the time, they referred to Japan as Fusang, the name of a mythological country to the extreme east beyond the sea: Fusang is located to the east of China, 20,000 li east of the state of Da Han. In former times, the people of Fusang knew nothing of the Buddhist religion, but in the second year of Da Ming of the Song Dynasty, five monks from Kipin travelled by ship to Fusang, they propagated Buddhist doctrine, circulated scriptures and drawings, advised the people to relinquish worldly attachments. As a result the customs of Fusang changed. Although there are records of Buddhist monks from China coming to Japan before the Asuka Period, the "official" introduction of Buddhism to Japan is dated to 552 in Nihon Shoki when King Seong of Baekje sent a mission to the Emperor Kinmei that included Buddhist monks or nuns together with an image of Buddha and a number of sutras to introduce Buddhism.
The powerful Soga clan played a key role in the early spread of Buddhism in the country. Initial uptake of the new faith was slow, Buddhism only started to spread some years when Empress Suiko encouraged the acceptance of Buddhism among all Japanese people. According to legend, in Japan in 552, there was an attempt to destroy a tooth relic, one of the first of Buddha’s to arrive in the country. On January 15, 593, Soga no Umako ordered relics of Buddha deposited inside the foundation stone under the pillar of a pagoda at Asuka-dera. In 607, in order to obtain copies of sutras, an imperial envoy was dispatched to Sui China; as time progressed and the number of Buddhist clergy increased, the offices of Sōjō and Sōzu were created. By 627, there were 46 Buddhist temples, 816 Buddhist priests, 569 Buddhist nuns in Japan; the initial period saw the six great Chinese schools, called Nanto Rokushū in Japanese were introduced to the Japanese archipelago: Ritsu Jōjitsu Kusha-shū Sanronshū Hossō Kegon These schools were centered around the ancient capitals of Asuka and Nara, where great temples such as the Asuka-dera and Tōdai-ji were erected respectively.
These were not exclusive schools, temples were apt to have scholars versed in several of the schools. It has been suggested that they can best be thought of as "study groups"; the Buddhism of these periods, known as the Asuka period and Nara period – was not a practical religion, being more the domain of learned priests whose official function was to pray for the peace and prosperity of the state and imperial house. This kind of Buddhism had little to offer to the illiterate and uneducated masses and led to the growth of "people’s priests" who were not ordained and had no formal Buddhist training, their practice was a combination of Buddhist and Daoist elements and the incorporation of shamanistic features of indigenous practices. Some of these figures became immensely popular and were a source of criticism towards the sophisticated academic and bureaucratic Buddhism of the capital; the Late Nara period saw the introduction of Tangmi to Japan from China by Kūkai and Saichō, who founded Shingon Buddhism and the Tendai school, respectively.
During the Heian period the capital was shifted from Nara to Kyoto. Monasteries became centers of powers establishing armies of Sōhei, warrior-monks. Shinto and Buddhism became the dominant religions, maintaining a balance until the Meiji-restoration; the Kamakura period was a period of crisis in which the control of the country moved from the imperial aristocracy to the samurai. In 1185 the Kamakura shogunate was established at Kamakura; this period saw the introduction of the two schools that had the greatest impact on the country: the schools of Pure Land Buddhism, promulgated by evangelists such as Genshin and articulated by monks such as Hōnen, which emphasize salvation through faith in Amitābha and remain the largest Buddhist sect in Japan.
Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south; the kanji that make up Japan's name mean "sun origin", it is called the "Land of the Rising Sun". Japan is a stratovolcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands; the four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area and are referred to as home islands. The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions, with Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one; the population of 127 million is the world's tenth largest. 90.7 % of people live in cities. About 13.8 million people live in the capital of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people. Archaeological research indicates; the first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD.
Influence from other regions China, followed by periods of isolation from Western Europe, has characterized Japan's history. From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shōguns who ruled in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma – and the Empire of Japan was established. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism; the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the Japanese surrender. Since adopting its revised constitution on May 3, 1947, during the occupation led by SCAP, the sovereign state of Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with an Emperor and an elected legislature called the National Diet.
Japan is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, UN, the OECD, the G7, the G8, the G20, is considered a great power. Its economy is the world's third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity, it is the world's fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. Japan benefits from a skilled and educated workforce. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, Japan maintains a modern military with the world's eighth-largest military budget, used for self-defense and peacekeeping roles. Japan is a developed country with a high standard of living and Human Development Index, its population enjoys the highest life expectancy and third lowest infant mortality rate in the world, but is experiencing issues due to an aging population and low birthrate. Japan is renowned for its historical and extensive cinema, influential music industry, video gaming, rich cuisine and its major contributions to science and modern technology; the Japanese word for Japan is 日本, pronounced Nihon or Nippon and means "the origin of the sun".
The character nichi means "sun" or "day". The compound therefore means "origin of the sun" and is the source of the popular Western epithet "Land of the Rising Sun"; the earliest record of the name Nihon appears in the Chinese historical records of the Tang dynasty, the Old Book of Tang. At the end of the seventh century, a delegation from Japan requested that Nihon be used as the name of their country; this name may have its origin in a letter sent in 607 and recorded in the official history of the Sui dynasty. Prince Shōtoku, the Regent of Japan, sent a mission to China with a letter in which he called himself "the Emperor of the Land where the Sun rises"; the message said: "Here, I, the emperor of the country where the sun rises, send a letter to the emperor of the country where the sun sets. How are you". Prior to the adoption of Nihon, other terms such as Yamato and Wakoku were used; the term Wa is a homophone of Wo 倭, used by the Chinese as a designation for the Japanese as early as the third century Three Kingdoms period.
Another form of Wa, Wei in Chinese) was used for an early state in Japan called Nakoku during the Han dynasty. However, the Japanese disliked some connotation of Wa 倭, it was therefore replaced with the substitute character Wa, meaning "togetherness, harmony"; the English word Japan derives from the historical Chinese pronunciation of 日本. The Old Mandarin or early Wu Chinese pronunciation of Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. In modern Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, the pronunciation of characters 日本; the old Malay word for Japan, Japun or Japang, was borrowed from a southern coastal Chinese dialect Fukienese or Ningpo – and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Southeast Asia in the 16th century. These Early Portuguese traders brought the word
The Twenty-Two Shrines of Japan is one ranking system for Shinto shrines. The system was established during the Heian period and formed part of the government's systematization of Shinto during the emergence of a general anti-Chinese sentiment and the suppression of the Taoist religion, it involved the establishment of the shrines as important centers of public life in Japan. It played a role in official imperial ceremonies such as the Practice of Chinkon. An extensive body of literature emerged containing information about each shrine, including the shrine's origin, priestly dress, divine treatises, the system of shrine removal, subordinate shrines, annual cycle of rituals, among others. By the year 806, 4,870 households were assigned to Shinto shrines while the government provided a national endowment for their upkeep; these shrines received special offerings from the Imperial Court. As time progressed, this offering to the shrines was amended so that Imperial envoys were only sent to the powerful shrines in Kyoto, the capital of Japan at the time.
This amendment identified fourteen shrines but it was increased to twenty-two in 1081. There are historians who explained that the majority in list involved those with central lineages supporting the imperial house, sites of cults that gained popular significance, shrines in locations with the presence of Buddhist institutions. Under the Ritsuryō law system, the shrines that the Imperial Court would present offerings to for rites such as the kinensai, a service to pray for a good harvest, were decided by the Engishiki Jinmyōchō, but once the Ritsuryō system began to deteriorate, the offerings were only given to a select few shrines. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan; these heihaku were presented to 16 shrines: 1. Ise. Iwashimizu. Kamo. Matsunoo. Hirano. Inari. Kasuga. Oharano. Miwa. Ōyamato. Hirose. Tatsuta. Sumiyoshi. Nibu and 16. Kibune. In 991, Emperor Ichijō added three more shrines to Murakami's list—17. Yoshida.
Hirota. Kitano. Umenomiya. Gion. In 1039, Emperor Go-Suzaku ordered that one more shrine be added to this list, 22. Hie, this unique number of Imperial-designated shrines has not been altered since that time. Near the end of the Heian period, there was a movement to add Itsukushima Shrine to the list, but it did not happen. However, until the end of the Muromachi period, the Imperial Court made offerings to it, in the Edo period, offerings were again made after disasters occurred; when the Nijūni-sha are considered as a grouped set, they are conventionally presented in order of rank, not in terms of the chronological sequence in which they were designated. The three rank ranked groupings derived from a complex array of Heian geopolitical relationships. Note: At the time when the Nijunisha were chosen, the current Niukawakami Nakasha was the only Niukawakami Shrine, it became the middle shrine only after the shrine in Kawakami were united with it. List of Shinto shrines List of Jingū Ichinomiya Breen and Mark Teeuwen..
Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2363-4 Ponsonby-Fane, Richard.. Studies in Shinto and Shrines. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 399449
Ichinomiya is a historical term referring to the Japanese Shinto shrines with the highest shrine rank in a province or prefecture. Most of the old provinces of Japan had one or more ichinomiya, which gave rise to place names, such as the city of Ichinomiya, Aichi. Shrines of the lower rank are called ninomiya, shinomiya, so forth. Ichinomiya developed from the system of ranking of shrines within a province. List of Shinto shrines Modern system of ranked Shinto Shrines Twenty-Two Shrines Sannomiya Kokubunji Fuchū National Association of Ichinomiya
Religion in Japan
Religion in Japan is dominated by Shinto and by Buddhism. According to surveys carried out in 2006 and 2008, less than 40% of the population of Japan identifies with an organized religion: around 35% are Buddhists, 3% to 4% are members of Shinto sects and derived religions, from fewer than 1% to 2.3% are Christians. Most of the Japanese pray and worship ancestors and gods at Shinto shrines or at private altars, while not identifying as "Shinto" or "Shintoist" in surveys; this is because these terms have little meaning for the majority of the Japanese, or because they define membership in Shinto organizations or sects. The term "religion" itself in Japanese culture defines only organized religions. People who identify as "non-religious" in surveys mean that they do not belong to any religious organization though they may take part in Shinto rituals and worship; some scholars, such as Jun'ichi Isomae and Jason Ānanda Josephson, have challenged the usefulness of the term "religion" in regard to Japanese "traditions", arguing that the Japanese term and concept of "religion" is an invention of the 19th century.
However, other scholars, such as Hans Martin Kramer and Ian Reader, regard such claims as overstated and contend that the terms relate to terminology and categorizations that existed in Japan prior to the 19th century. Shinto kami-no-michi, is the indigenous religion of Japan and most of the people of Japan, it is defined as an action-centered religion, focused on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient roots. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified "Shinto religion", but rather to a collection of native beliefs and mythology. Shinto today is the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of gods, suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals, applies as well to various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara and Heian periods.
The word Shinto was adopted as Shindo, from the written Chinese Shendao, combining two kanji: "shin", meaning "spirit" or kami. The oldest recorded usage of the word Shindo is from the second half of the 6th century. Kami are defined in English as "spirits", "essences" or "gods", referring to the energy generating the phenomena. Since Japanese language does not distinguish between singular and plural, kami refers to the divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms: rocks, rivers, animals and people can be said to possess the nature of kami. Kami and people are not separate. Shinto is the largest religion in Japan, practiced by nearly 80% of the population, yet only a small percentage of these identify themselves as "Shintoists" in surveys; this is due to the fact that "Shinto" has different meanings in Japan: most of the Japanese attend Shinto shrines and beseech kami without belonging to Shinto organisations, since there are no formal rituals to become a member of folk "Shinto", "Shinto membership" is estimated counting those who join organised Shinto sects.
Shinto has 78,890 priests in the country. With the profound changes that the Japanese society has gone through in the 20th century, after World War II, including rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, traditional religions were challenged by the transformation and underwent a reshaping themselves, principles of religious freedom articulated by the constitution provided space for the proliferation of new religious movements. Both new sects of Shinto and movements claiming a independent status, as well as new forms of Buddhist lay societies, provided ways of aggregation for people uprooted from traditional families and village institutions. While traditional Shinto is residential and hereditary, a person participates in the worship activities devoted to the local tutelary deity or ancestor asking for specific healing or blessing services or participating in pilgrimages, in the new religions groups were formed by individuals without regard to kinship or territorial origins, required a voluntary decision to join.
These new religions provided cohesion through a unified doctrine and practice shared by the nationwide community. The recognized new religions number in the hundreds, total membership is in the tens of millions; the largest new religion is Soka Gakkai, a Buddhist sect founded in 1930, which has about 10 million members in Japan. Scholars in Japan have estimated that between 10% and 20% of the population belongs to the new religions, although more realistic estimates put the number at well below the 10% mark; as of 2007, there are 223,831 priests and leaders of the new religions in Japan, three times the number of traditional Shinto priests. Many of these new religions are Shinto-derived and retain the fundamental characters of Shinto identifying themselves as forms of Shinto; these include Tenrikyo, Omotokyo, Shinreikyo, Sekai Shindokyo and others. Others are independent new
Modern system of ranked Shinto shrines
The modern system of ranked Shinto shrines was an organizational aspect of the establishment of Japanese State Shinto. This system classified Shinto shrines as "other" shrines; the official shrines were divided into Imperial shrines, which are parsed into minor, medium, or major sub-categories. Some shrines are the "first shrines" called ichinomiya that have the highest rank in their respective provinces of Japan; the Ise Grand Shrine stood at the top of all shrines and thus was outside the classification. In 1871, an Imperial decree established a hierarchic ranking of Shinto shrines; these rankings were set aside in 1946, when such rankings were deemed "State Shinto" by the Occupation Shinto Directive. The Jinja Honcho has a different List of Special Shrines. In 1871, the Kanpei-sha identified the hierarchy of government-supported shrines most associated with the imperial family; the kampeisha were shrines venerated by the imperial family. This category encompasses those sanctuaries enshrining emperors, imperial family members, or meritorious retainers of the Imperial family.
The most ranked Imperial shrines or Kanpei-taisha encompassed 67 sanctuaries. The mid-range of ranked Imperial shrines or Kanpei-chūsha included 23 sanctuaries; the lowest ranked among the Imperial shrines or Kanpei-shōsha were five sanctuaries. In addition to the ranked Imperial shrines, there were other shrines at which the kami of emperors were venerated; the Kokuhei-sha identified the hierarchy of government-supported shrines with national significance. The kokuheisha enshrined kami considered beneficial to more local areas; the most ranked, nationally significant shrines or Kokuhei Taisha were six sanctuaries. The mid-range of ranked, nationally significant shrines or Kokuhei Chūsha encompassed 47 sanctuaries; the lowest ranked, nationally significant shrines or Kokuhei Shōsha includes 50 sanctuaries. List of Shinto shrines Twenty-Two Shrines Setsumatsusha