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Basic Terms


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Aikokushin

A compound word that refers to having attachment to one's nation and perceiving one's destiny as identical to that of the nation. The word has taken root as a translation of the word "patriotism." The original meaning of the term is a simple and peaceful love for, or attachment to, one's homeland a...

Akitsumikami

Commonly written with the characters , but other ways of writing this term are the following: , , , , and . All of them are read as akitsumikami. The term is applied to deities who come from the spiritual world and clearly appear in this world. Examples of how this t...

Amatsu tsumi / Kunitsu tsumi

These words occur as a pair in the great purification incantation (ōharae no kotoba) of the Engishiki. Amatsu tsumi are the eight crimes committed by Susanoo that disturbed farming in Takamanohara (the Plain of High Heaven). These crimes include breaking down the ridges between rice paddies (a...

Ame no masuhito

This term found in the great purification incantation (oharae kotoba) of the Engishiki uses the people of the nation of Japan as a metaphor to describe how the population of Takamanohara (the Plain of High Heaven) gradually increases. The word ame is a euphemism that does not necessarily indicate T...

Ametsuchi

The word ame refers to the dwelling place of the heavenly deities (amatsukami) beyond the sky. Paired with ame, the term tsuchi means both the ocean and the land. According to Motoori Norinaga, because ame is a land where the heavenly kami reside, everything there is like the actual environment; th...

Aohitokusa

This term is used as a noun to refer to people in the world. It is seen for the first time in the Kojiki, where it has the same meaning as jinmin, shomin, and tamikusa (all meaning "the people"). Although the term is commonly rendered with the characters Ŀ, the Nihonshoki uses the character-co...

Arahitogami

Another way was of writing this term is ӿͿ. This is a kami who appears in this world in human form. The word is also used as a term of respect regarding the emperor. As an example of the former usage, in the Yuryaku ki (in the section of the second month of the fourth year) arahitogami appear...

Aramitama

This is one of the ways of referring to a spirit (mitama) by its function or inner workings, placing it in opposition to nigimitama. Aramitama is recognized and understood as the ferocious, rough, and violent side of the spirit, or mitama. Although the nigimitama is the normal condition of the spir...

Ashihara no Nakatsukuni

This is another word for the country or the location of Japan. Perhaps the term was considered appropriate because the land was damp and covered with reeds (ashi) in ancient times. Examples of other words using the term ashi in describing Japan like toyoashihara no nakatsukuni and toyoashihara no m...

Batsu

Sanctions or punishment, chiefly of a religious or ethical nature, taken against someone who has committed a sin (tsumi) or ritual impurity (kegare). The punishment may also term take the form of legal sanction. From ancient times in Japan, those who commited those who commited tsumikegare were req...

Bunrei

Dividing the spirit. The term refers to entreating (kanjō) a deity enshrined in one location to impart the divine presence to another location. The deity of such a branch shrine (bunshi, bunsha, niimiya, imamiya) is a divided spirit of the enshrined deity of the main shrine. For example, Iwash...

Bunshi

A branch shrine. From the main shrine, the resident deity ( saijin ) may be entreated (kanjō) to impart (bunrei) the divine presence to another location as well, through the construction and dedication of a new small shrine (hokora) or branch shrine. Such is also called a bunsha, niimiya, or i...

Chinkon kishin

The terms chinkon and kishin are found in the classics but use of the four-character phrase became common only after a Shintō-derived new religion, Ōmoto, began to use it. Here, chinkon refers to the procedures for healing and directing spirits; by extension, it also refers to joining a d...

Chōkoku

The word may be also pronounced hatsukuni, written as , and it denotes the establishment of the country, or founding of the realm. The tenth monarch, Sujin, is said to be "the first tennō to rule the country." This is variously expressed: in Nihon shoki it says, "hatsukuni shirasu sumerami...

Chūkō

Loyalty and filiality. Chū denotes loyalty and fidelity to one's master or country, while kō denotes filiality to one's parents. Originally [in China], these two virtues were considered independent, and sometimes in contradiction one to the other, as in the saying, "If one attempts to be ...

Goryō

Spiritual entities that cause calamities and epidemics to an unspecified, wide range of people. However, kami such as those originally worshipped at shrines (jinja) were not viewed as goryō. Specifically, spirits of people who had lost their positions of power and the various kami of epidemics...

Hakkōichiu

"The Entire Earth Under One Roof." This phrase, coined in modern times, is based on a line from the prayer of the first (legendary) Emperor, Jimmu, (prior to his enthronement) at the founding of the imperial city of Kashihara: "Will it not be well to have capital developed so as to embrace the six ...

Harae

Purification. This refers to the process of purifying the mind and body of accumulated sins and defilements by means of ablutions (misogi) or other rites and recitations. Representative of these are ceremonies performed in the presence of the kami (shinzen) with silk and paper cuttings (heihaku). T...

Ichirei shikon

Literally, "one spirit, four souls". According to Shintō doctrine, the spirit (reikon) of both kami and human beings is made up of one spirit and four souls. The spirit is called naobi, and the four souls are the turbulent (aramitama), the tranquil (nigimitama), the propitious (sakimitama) and...

Imi

Imi means abstinence or taboo, or the avoidance of that which is abnormal (magakoto), imperfect (tsumi) and polluted (kegare), and the removal of those states. Originally and ؤ (both pronounced imi) were synonyms, in the sense that both meant removing abnormality, imperfections and pollutio...



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