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A Kami by any other Name

It is widely known that Shinto is counted among the worlds polytheistic religions, but each Shinto kami also bears multiple names, making their stories harder to untangle. Originally, in the Kojiki and Nihongi, the ways of referring to the same kami often differed. While in the Kojiki, kami names...

A Shinto Patriarch's Confrontation with Saint Nikolai Kasatkin

The promotion of the organization of Shinto into sects (kyōha Shinto) during the Meiji period was in part a measure taken against the rising influence of Christianity. With the ongoing influx of missionaries into Japan after the fall of the Bakufu government, and with the increasing numbers of...

Business Shrines

Many Japanese corporations and businesses have shrines on their property or within their buildings. Little attention was paid to these facilities until the Jinja Shinpōsha (the publishing house for the Association of Shinto Shrines) published a survey in the book Kigyō no jinja [Business ...

Daily Aspects (higara) and Directional Taboos (hōi)

The phrase Today, even the days aspect is good, (Ϥɤ) is a familiar expression heard at Japanese weddings. This statement refers to the fact that the day is one of taian, or great peace and auspiciousness, the most positive of the six daily aspects (rokuyō). Th...

Daoist Elements in Shinto

Shinto has been greatly influenced by both Confucianism and Buddhism. It is also not without Christian influence. However, despite the fact that Daoist influence on Shinto has been far greater than that of Christianity, to date there has been a dearth of penetrating studies into Shinto-Daoist inter...

Do Shrines Issue Any "Inauspicious" Fortunes?

Omikuji is a popular form of divination in which paper fortunes can be drawn from a box at Shinto shrines. Adults and children alike hope for a lucky fortune, and hardly anyone ever draws an unlucky one. Since it is the fundamental business of shrines to attract good fortune, omikuji themselves are...

Female Founders and Shamanesses

Among the founders of the many Shinto-derived New Religions (Shintōkei shinshūkyō), there have been a number who claim to have been chosen as vehicles to be "ridden" by kami (kamigakari). Among the female founders, in particular, there is a relatively large number who proclaimed thei...

How to Become a Shinto Priest

The majority of Shinto priests are affiliated with the Association of Shinto Shrines (jinja honchō), meaning the most common way to formally become a Shinto priest, is to complete a training course established by the Association. For those who have not yet graduated high school, the most ortho...

Jichinsai (Ground-purification Rites): Religious Ritual or Secular Custom?

From individual family homes to large-scale factories, new construction usually commences only after traditional Shinto ground-purification rites (jichinsai) have been performed. Construction itself is a dangerous undertaking, so from the standpoint of the workers involved, the ritual is indispensa...

Kami and Healing

Today, accounting for illness and healing is the singular role of modern medicine. However, there are still cases in which humans are not necessarily satisfied by medical explanations alone. When confronted with an undiagnosable illness, or an illness which is malignant in nature, for example, reli...

Miko and their Dance (Urayasu no mai)

In almost all Shinto festivals and ceremonies, there is usually the opportunity to see four women (known as miko) dressed in white kimono, red pantaloons (hakama) and a special cassock (chihaya) with chrysanthemums adorning their hair, performing a dance known as the "Urayasu no mai." Because miko ...

Paying Respects at a Shinto Shrine

Of course nobody goes around scolding others for not abiding by it, but there is a provisional standard manner of paying respects at Shinto shrines. As such, it is advisable for shrine-goers to familiarize themselves with the protocol as well as the significance of each action. After passing th...

Rates of Women in the Shinto Clergy

In the 1993 edition of the Japan Agency of Cultural Affairs Shūkyō Nenkan (Year in Religion), the number of Shrine Shinto clergy (shinshoku) registered with the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja honchō) who were male was 18,714, nearly ten times the 1,825 registered females. Com...

Shinto Missionaries: Civilizing the People

Kyōdōshoku was a short-lived system in the 1860' and 1870's; however, it no doubt had some influence during its day. At the time, the school systems were still largely undeveloped, especially at the primary level, and the Meiji Government, which was deeply suspicious of Christianity durin...

Shrines and Hawaiians of Japanese descent

The relationship between Hawaii and shrines may not be obvious at first, but considering that Hawaii began to admit Japanese immigrants in 1868, it should not be surprising that shrines exist there even today. Compared to the pre-war era, the number of shrines in countries other than Japan has decl...

Shrines Confronting Urbanization

Shinto took its shape in response to the boons and banes of an agricultural society. As expressed in the Spring Festival(kinensai) and the Eleventh-month Harvest Festival (niinamesai), rites for abundant future harvests and prayers of thanksgiving for present harvest have formed the core of Shinto...

The Ashes of Tokyo Universitys Department of Shinto Studies

Presently, there are no public universities with a department of Shinto Studies or which offer regular courses on the subject. This was not always the case. Prior to the Second World War, Tokyo Imperial University [today, the University of Tokyo] established a program in Shinto Studies. In 1921, To...

The Complexity of the Nihon Shoki

It is a well-known fact that the scroll of the Nihon Shoki referred to as the Age of the Kami or Divine Age (kamiyo) is divided into two parts, the first comprising the primary account and the second containing alternative accounts. It came to take this format because the Nihon Shok...

The Founder who Swallowed the Sun

Ancient religions often took heavenly bodies as objects of worship, but there are strikingly many that worship the sun in particular. Shinto also incorporates elements of sun-worship, such as the kami Amaterasu, the sun kami. There are a number of shrines that worship Amaterasu as the principle dei...

The Ritual Etiquette of Shinto Priests

The protocol of a Shinto priests actions during Shrine rites and rituals is prescribed in great detail. With regard to posture alone, for example, the rules of the Association of Shinto Shrines (jinja honchō) stipulates five different poses: seiza, chokuritsu, kikyo, sonkyo, and shikō. ...



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