Japanese mythology embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally-based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami; this article will discuss only the typical elements present in Asian mythology, such as cosmogony, important deities, the best-known Japanese stories. Japanese myths, as recognized in the mainstream today, are based on the Kojiki, the Nihon Shoki, some complementary books; the Kojiki, or "Record of Ancient Matters", is the oldest surviving account of Japan's myths and history. The Shintōshū describes the origins of Japanese deities from a Buddhist perspective, while the Hotsuma Tsutae records a different version of the mythology. One notable feature of Japanese mythology is its explanation of the origin of the Imperial Family, used to assign godhood to the imperial line; the title of the Emperor of Japan, tennō, means "heavenly sovereign". Japanese is not transliterated across all sources, see: #Spelling of proper nouns In the Japanese creation myth, the first deities which came into existence, appearing at the time of the creation of the universe, are collectively called Kotoamatsukami.
The seven generations of kami, known as Kamiyonanayo, following the formation of heaven and earth. The first two generations are individual deities called hitorigami, while the five that followed came into being as male/female pairs of kami: brothers and sisters that were married couples. In this chronicle, the Kamiyonanayo comprise 12 deities in total. In contrast, the Nihon Shoki states that the Kamiyonanayo group was the first to appear after the creation of the universe, as opposed to the Kamiyonanayo appearing after the formation of heaven and earth, it states that the first three generations of deities are hitorigami and that the generations of deities are pairs of the opposite gender, as compared to the Kojiki's two generations of hitorigami. Japan's creation narrative can be divided into the birth of the land; the seventh and last generation of Kamiyonanayo were Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, they would be responsible for the creation of the Japanese archipelago and would engender other deities.
To help them to achieve this and Izanami were given a naginata decorated with jewels, named Ame-no-nuboko. The two deities went to the bridge between heaven and earth and churned the sea below with the halberd. Drops of salty water formed Onogoro; the deities made their home on the island. They fell in love and wished to mate. So they built. Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions, when they met on the other side, the female deity, spoke first in greeting. Izanagi didn't think that this was proper, they had two children and Awashima, but the children were badly formed and are not considered gods in their original form. The parents, who were dismayed at their misfortune, put the children into a boat and sent them to sea, petitioned the other gods for an answer about what they had done wrong, they were informed that Izanami's lack of manners was the reason for the defective births: a woman should never speak prior to a man. So Izanagi and Izanami went around the pillar again, this time, when they met, Izanagi spoke first.
Their next union was successful. From their union were born the Ōyashima, or the eight great islands of Japan: Awaji Iyo Oki Tsukushi Iki Tsushima Sado Yamato Note that Hokkaidō, Chishima and Okinawa were not part of Japan in ancient times. Izanami died giving birth to Kagutsuchi called Homusubi due to severe burns, she was buried on Mount Hiba, at the border of the old provinces of Izumo and Hoki, near modern-day Yasugi of Shimane Prefecture. In anger, Izanagi killed Kagutsuchi, his death created dozens of deities. The gods who were born from Izanagi and Izanami are symbolic aspects of culture. Izanagi undertook a journey to Yomi. Izanagi found little difference between Yomi and the land except for the eternal darkness. However, this suffocating darkness was enough to make him ache for life, he searched for Izanami and found her. At first, Izanagi could not see her, he asked her to return with him. Izanami informed him that he was too late, she had eaten the food of the underworld and now belonged to the land of the dead.
Izanagi was shocked at this news, but he refused to give in to her wishes to be left to the dark embrace of Yomi. Izanami first requested to have some time to rest, she instructed Izanagi to not come into her bedroom. After a long wait, Izanami did not come out of her bedroom, Izanagi was worried. While Izanami was sleeping, he took the comb that set it alight as a torch. Under the sudden burst of light, he saw the horrid form of the once graceful Izanami; the flesh of her ravaged body was rotting and was overrun with maggots and fou
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
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
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.
Misogi is a Japanese Shinto practice of ritual purification by washing the entire body. Misogi is related to another Shinto purification ritual called Harae – thus both being collectively referred to as Misogiharae. In Kyoto, people douse themselves under Kiyomizu Temple's Otowa no taki waterfall, although the majority of visitors drink from the waters rather than plunging into them; every year, many groups take pilgrimages to sacred waterfalls and rivers, either alone or in small groups, to perform misogi. Mount Ontake, the Kii mountain range and Mount Yoshino are but a few examples of ancient and well known areas for Misogi in Japan. In the United States misogi is performed at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America at the Konryu Myojin no Taki waterfall each morning. Before encountering misogi, members undergo some sort of preliminary purification; such things as prayers, fasting, or some sort of physical activity is common. Women put on a special white kimono and a headband and men put on a fundoshi and head band.
They begin furitama or "spirit shaking" by clenching their hands in front of the stomach and shaking them up and down, vibrating the upper torso. The purpose of this is to become aware of/unified with the spirit's presence within. Following this is a "warm-up" or calisthenics; these two aforementioned practices are sometimes accompanied by special incantations. After, the leader begins to speak out invocations/prayers; the followers speak along with them, thus affirming the potential for realizing one's own spirit, thus unifying them with the kami around them. The above exercises are done so participants raise their metabolism and some groups accompany this with deep breathing, they may be sprinkled with purifying salt and may be given sake to spit into the waterfall in three mouthfuls. Sometimes the participants are given salt to throw into the waterfall. In some groups, the leader counts to nine and cuts the air while shouting the word "yei!" to dispel this impurity. The participants enter the waterfall while continuously chanting the phrase harai tamae kiyome tamae rokkon shōjō.
This phrase asks the kami to wash away the impurity from the six elements that make up the human being, the five senses and the mind. The practice of this varies from group to group, each having their own methods. Misogi is used in some forms of martial arts aikido, to prepare the mind for training and to learn how to develop one's Dantian, or centre; the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba used this form of meditation to complement his training and search for perfection. The Sen Shin tei Misogi Well at Ki Society Headquarters in Japan is a well-known place for people performing misogi with cold water before sunrise. Baptism Ghusl Mikveh Temizuya, a pavilion for ritual purification at the entrance to Shinto shrines Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions, 5th ed. Prentice Hall
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
Kojiki sometimes read as Furukotofumi, is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Genmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths, early legends, genealogies, oral traditions and semi-historical accounts down to 641 concerning the origin of the Japanese archipelago, the Kami; the myths contained in the Kojiki as well as the Nihon Shoki are part of the inspiration behind many practices. The myths were re-appropriated for Shinto practices such as the misogi purification ritual. Emperor Tenmu ordered Hieda no Are to memorize stories and texts from history, many of which appear to have been, until the creation of the Kojiki known oral traditions. Beyond this memorization, nothing occurred until after Empress Jitō and Emperor Monmu had both passed and Empress Genmei came to reign. According to the Kojiki, Empress Genmei on the 18th of the 9th month of 711 ordered the courtier Ō no Yasumaro to record what had been learned by Hieda no Are.
He finished and presented his work to Empress Genmei on the 28th of the 1st month of 712. The Kojiki could be made to further the Imperial right to rule; this historical narrative is broken into the Age of Gods and the Age of Humans, wherein the mythology of the gods which gave birth to the land is told and transitioned in a chronological fashion to the reign of the Emperors. This narrative sets forth the divine mandate by which the Yamato line has right to rule, through the rhetoric used in the Age of Humans, the historical and military qualifications were established. Several of the narratives which give support to the imperial line, such as the subjugation of certain Korean kingdoms, have been confirmed as false and were included to erase failures and bolster reputations of Emperors past. Vast amounts of the Age of Humans is spent recounting genealogies, which served not only to give age to the imperial family, much newer than the Kojiki claims as little evidence has been found to support the existence of early Emperors, but served to tie, whether true or not, many existing clan's genealogies to their own.
Regardless of the original intent of the Kojiki, it finalized and even formulated the framework by which Japanese history was examined in terms of the reign of Emperors. The Kojiki contains various poems. While the historical records and myths are written in a form of Chinese with a heavy mixture of Japanese elements, the songs are written with Chinese characters, though only used phonetically; this special use of Chinese characters is called Man'yōgana, a knowledge of, critical to understanding these songs, which are written in Old Japanese. The Kojiki is divided into three parts: the Nakatsumaki and the Shimotsumaki; the Kamitsumaki known as the Kamiyo no Maki, includes the preface of the Kojiki, is focused on the deities of creation and the births of various deities of the kamiyo period, or Age of the Gods. The Kamitsumaki outlines the myths concerning the foundation of Japan, it describes how Ninigi-no-Mikoto, grandson of Amaterasu and great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu, descended from heaven to Takachihonomine in Kyūshū and became the progenitor of the Japanese Imperial line.
The Nakatsumaki begins with the story of Emperor Jimmu, the first Emperor, his conquest of Japan, ends with the 15th Emperor, Emperor Ōjin. The second through ninth Emperors' reigns are recorded in a minimum of detail, with only their names, the names of their various descendants, the place-names of their palaces and tombs listed, no mention of their achievements. Many of the stories in this volume are mythological, the historical information in them is suspect; the Shimotsumaki covers the 16th to 33rd Emperors and, unlike previous volumes, has limited references to the interactions with deities. These interactions are prominent in the first and second volumes. Information about the 24th to the 33rd Emperors is missing, as well. What follows is a condensed summary of the contents of the text, including many of the names of gods and locations as well as events which took place in association to them; the original Japanese is included in parentheses where appropriate. The handing down of old folklore and its significance Emperor Tenmu and setting out the Kojiki Ō no Yasumaro compiling the Kojiki In the Edo period, Motoori Norinaga studied the Kojiki intensively.
He produced. Chamberlain, Basil Hall. 1882. A translation of the "Ko-ji-ki" or Records of ancient matters. Yokohama, Japan: R. Meiklejohn and Co. Printers. Philippi, Donald L. 1968/1969. Kojiki. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press and Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. Heldt, Gustav. 2014. The Kojiki: An Account of Ancient Matters. New York: Columbia University Press. There are two major branches of Kojiki manuscripts: Urabe; the extant Urabe branch consists of 36 existing manuscripts all based on the 1522 copies by Urabe Kanenaga. The Ise branch may be subdivided into the Shinpukuji-bon manuscript of 1371–1372 and the Dōka-bon manuscripts; the Dōka sub-branch consists of: the Dōka-bon manuscript of 1381.