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Basic Terms


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Mono, chi

Mono and chi are ancient terms that express the idea of "spirit." These terms refer primarily to the spirit of "things". In fact, the modern Japanese word mono (often translated as "thing") is thought to have originally been used as an abstracted expression for times when one was hesitant to outrig...

monoimi

Abstaining from contact with pollution. In order to welcome the sacred essence of the kami, those participating in Shintō rituals make a special effort to purify their bodies and minds by avoiding contact with polluting substances and behaviors (this avoidance is known as kinki) for a fixed pe...

Monozane

Generally, this term refers to the origin of a thing, or its material substance. In Shintō, however, monozane carries an additional significance as a term related to the process of the creation of kami. In this context, monozane is the essence from which kami are born. In Book 1 (kamitsumaki) ...

Musuhi

Also written as , , , and . Musushi refers to the ethereal workings that cause heaven, earth, and all things to come into being. Etymologically, musu carries the meaning of creation and development, while hi implies incorporeal or mysterious workings. A quick look at the various wor...

Naobi

It may also be written as ľľ. The concept of naobi is thought to demonstrate the ethical consciousness of the Japanese people. Naobi means to correct something abnormal, bad, or distorted, and to restore it to its normal or original condition. Naobi also refers to the wondrous spirit that r...

Nenokuni

Literally, "Land of the Roots," it is also known as Nenokatasukuni, Sokonokuni, or Hahanokuni. It is the place to which Susanowo is banished by his father Izanagi, who says to him: "Thou mayest no longer dwell in this land." From this we can deduce that Hahanokuni-Nenokatasukuni refers generally to...

Nigimitama

The term denotes the functional working of a spirit. Nigimitama refers to the peaceful and calming aspect of a spirit, whereas aramitama refers to its harsh and raging aspect. A spirit appears first as an aramitama but is transformed into a nigimitama by pacification and worship. Aramitama and nigi...

Ōmikokoro

The mind or will of the emperor. In particular the disinterested mind that embodies the divine words (shinchoku) of Amaterasu. To the honorific prefix mi, which indicates a term of respect for kami or the emperor, the superlative prefix ō is added, and the conjunction of the two expresses the ...

Ōmitakara

An ancient expression referring to the emperor's subjects. Similar compounds include kōmin, tami, minsho, hyakushō, jinmin, shomin, shojin, banmin, himin, okuchō, shūsho, reimin, reisho, reigen, ryōjin, kyojin, kokō, ninpu, jinbutsu, motomotosōsei, gyōgyō...

Osukuni

A compound of "to possess" plus "land." Generally means the land ruled by the kami and the emperor. "Osu" is made up of the continuative form verb "to be" plus the honorific particle "su." As an honorific, it originally denoted "to occupy, possess" and "to make something one's own." Later it is tho...

Ōyashima

Literally, "Great Eight Islands," it actually means "Great Myriad Islands," and is another name for Japan. The word is also an abbreviation of Ōyashima no kuni, or the "Great Country of Myriad Islands."According to the legends in the Kojiki and the Nihongi about the birth of the land (kuniumi)...

Reikai

A term that expresses such things as the world of spirits, the afterworld, or the otherworld. It is often used as a contrast to the physical world or the phenomenal world, and has become popularized by the New Religions. Older terms for this otherworld include Takamanohara, Nenokuni, and Yomotsukun...

Reishu taijū

"The flesh subordinated to the spirit." A term taken from Ōmoto, a Shintō-derived New Religion. The first sense of this term expresses the principle that the creator deity (sushin) Ōmoto Sume Ō-Mikami's creation began with the spirit world and was completed with the creation of ...

Sakimitama

The soul or one of its functions. There are various views concerning its meaning/activity. The first fascicle of the Chronicles of Japan (Nihongi) records the scene of Ōnamuchi conversing with Ōmiwanokami, his soul(s) of blessing (sakimitama) and auspiciousness (kushimitama). This is the ...

Sanshu no shinki

The general name for the three kinds of treasure said to have been granted to Ninigi by Amaterasu on the occasion of her heavenly grandson's descent to earth (tenson kōrin) and handed on as symbols of the imperial throne: a jewel (yasakaninomagatama), a mirror (yatanokagami) and a sword (ameno...

Shin'on

Divine favor. Boon (onkei). It is a term that includes a natural sense of thanksgiving toward kami. Although there are examples where it is used with reference to specific kami, generally it is used of the various kami in heaven and earth, beginning with kami of generation and reproduction (musuhi)...

Shinchoku

The command or message of a kami; or, alternatively, the words of a kami. Although the term is sometimes used in the sense of an oracle from various shrine deities, it commonly refers to the Three Divine Commands which Ninigi, the "imperial grandchild," received from Amaterasu, as reported in the N...

Shinkoku

A reference to Japan as a country that was founded and is protected by kami. Divine lands (of Japan, shinshū). The first use of this term was in the entry for the tenth month of the ninth year in the records for Emperor Chūai. It is attributed to the King of Silla: "I hear that there is a...

Shinkon

Marriage among kami or between kami and human beings. It is also called sacred marriage (seikon). In the case of a male kami and a human being the woman was always a virgin (shojo). In general virgins were believed to be pure in mind and body. The spirit of the august kami possessed these pure bodi...

Shintoku

The sublime virtue that comes from the actions of kami. As it says in the opening phrase of Goseibai shikimoku (1232): "The sublimity of kami is enhanced by the people's reverence;" due to people's belief and worship, the benefits from the kami can be called forth. In popular usage, shintoku means ...



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