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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Introduction: Jinja
Introduction: Jinja
This section deals with terminology relating to the religious institution of the Shinto jinja, customarily translated as "shrine," including its architectural structures and other facilities, ritual implements, and clerical vestments. Permanent shrine facilities were virtually non-existent in the ancient period, and while some examples of sacred spaces referred to as iwakura and iwasaka can be found, most occasions of ritual worship were observed at temporary sites. Present-day shrines are ordinarily composed of main shrine buildings (shaden) together with halls of sacred dance (kaguraden), shrine offices (shamusho), and other elements of the shrine precincts (keidai). Along the approachway inside the shrine such items as torii (sacred arches or gateways), Komainu ("Korean Lions"), votive lanterns (tōrō), and purification fonts (temizuya) can be found. Shrine buildings may include distinct structures such as a sanctuary (honden), oratory (haiden), and hall of offerings (heiden). The symbolic "kami body" (shintai) is usually sequestered inside the remote recesses of the sanctuary. Shintai may include mirrors (kagami), swords, jewels or any of many other items. Following the introduction of Buddhism and its influence, shintai came to include graphic images of kami (shinzō) and the esoteric paintings known as mandara. Natural objects are also occasionally found as shintai; when a mountain is viewed in this role, it is called a shintaizan ("kami-body-mountain"). Aside from the shintai proper, other objects within the shrine precincts may also be viewed as sacred, including "sacred trees," (shinboku or shinju), which are frequently viewed as yorishiro, namely, objects in which kami may lodge and manifest themselves. Some shrines possess large numbers of ritual and art objects with sacred significance (see shinpō). Most are related to the legendary origins of the respective shrine, and they include some items classified as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. It is not unusual to find multiple smaller shrines within the precincts of a single larger shrine. In addition to the main shrine, others may be subsidiaries called sessha, massha, or edayashiro. On occasion, a shrine complex may be composed of a dual set of shrines having the relation of a main shrine, located on the peak or high on a mountainside, to a facility located at the mountain's foot and provided for "remote worship" (yōhai). In such cases, the remote main shrine is called the yamamiya (mountain shrine) while the closer facility is the satomiya (village shrine).

  As part of festival proceedings a kami may make a progress (miyuki) through its parish domain, in which case a portable shrine or shin'yo (also called mikoshi) is used. When the element of artistic decoration is emphasized, such vehicles may take the form of highly ornate "floats" serving as the yorishiro of the kami, and in these instances are called dashi or yamahoko.

  As part of ceremonial worship, a variety of offerings are presented to kami; in ancient times, these were called heihaku. While the term heihaku was a general term applied to sacred offerings, food offerings are distinguished by the term shinsen, which includes sacred rice wine or miki. A variety of offerings were historically presented to kami, but cloth offerings were typical of the ancient period. Today, monetary offerings are standard, in which case they may also be called "heihaku funds" (heihakuryō). In time, heihaku came to be used as ritual implements for rites of purification (harae), in which case they are most commonly referred to as ōnusa or haraegushi. Today, such heihaku often take the form of cut paper streamers (shide) affixed to small staves or branches of the sakaki tree.

  Shinto priests wear specific clerical vestments (shinshoku no shōzoku) when carrying out their roles. Priests today wear differentiating categories of vestment called seisō, reisō, and jōsō in accordance with the kind of ceremony involved; the costume also differs depending on the priest's rank. Rules are also prescribed regarding the ritual implements used in various rites. In the modern period, these prescriptions were first codified in the form of a notice called Jinja saishiki (Rules for Ritual Procedure at Shrines) issued in 1875 from the Imperial Bureau of Ritual (Shikiburyō), and Kankokuheisha ika jinja saishiki (Rules for Shrine Rituals at Nationally Endowed and Other Shrines) in 1914. Current regulations were codified in the Jinja saishiki issued by the Association of Shinto Shrines in 1948.

  At shrines, worshipers may present offerings to the kami with the purpose of making a supplication, and in turn, symbolic articles may be presented to worshipers as an emblem of divine power (shintoku). Offerings to kami may include monetary gifts (saisen) or a "votive horse picture" (ema). In the event a person's supplication is granted, he or she frequently makes another offering as a sign of gratitude.

  Other articles presented to worshipers include "good luck charms" (engimono) such as "demon-breaking arrows" (hamaya) and bows, and other similar talismans. These may be charms for general good fortune, or amulets for protection and blessing in specific areas of life. A typical example of the latter is the ema. These votive tablets are believed to have originated in the offering of live horses, but today, the tablets are used by shrine visitors to write supplications regarding hopes for academic success, employment, and marriage.

  Articles believed to bring good luck are generally referred to as engimono. In addition to hamaya arrows, such good luck articles may include masks of cheery-faced women called otafuku, farmers' rakes (kumade), and other similar items. Some articles available for purchase at shrines may also involve an element of divination, such as omikuji(fortunes). At most contemporary occasions of formal shrine worship, the worshiper receives a rite of ceremonial purification from the priest, presents a ritual object called tamagushi before the deity, and then receives a small dish of ritual rice wine.

  
-Inoue Nobutaka
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8440, Japan
URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
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