Encyclopedia of Shinto Kokugakuin University
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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. The formal sitting style known as seiza and the formal manner of standing known as chokuritsu are the same in Shinto as they are in secular Japanese society today. The other three, however, are postures particular to Shinto and need more explanation. Kikyo (or hizamatsuku in its verb form) is a manner of formal sitting in which the knees remain together while sitting back on heels, as in seiza, but with the tips of the toes pointed and bearing the persons weight. Priests assume this posture when preparing ritual implements, and installing or removing objects from a shrine. Sonkyo (or uzukumaru in its verb form) is a manner of squatting on the balls of ones feet with ones knees spread apart. Priests assume this posture when preparing ritual implements in the shrines garden. When facing an altar/kami diagonally, priests assume the Shikō posture, holding the ritual scepter (shaku) if male or the ritual fan (ōgi) if female in a particular manner. Even the details of seiza are minutely prescribed: priests must kneel with one big toe overlapping the other, knees slightly apart if male or together if female, and with the right hand resting on the right thigh and left hand on the left thigh. There are also three different styles of ambulation: hokō, kukkō, and shikkō. Hokō is similar to our everyday manner of walking, while the kukkō-style of walking is performed with a slight bend at the waist, and shikkō is a style of walking in which one advances while remaining in the kikyo seated position.
seiza

2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

chokuritsu

2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

kikyo

2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

sonkyo

2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

shikō

2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

A priest demonstrates the Hokō (walking), Kukkō (walking with slight bend at the waist), and Shikō forms of ambulation.

Tokyo, 2006

©Ōsawa Kōji

"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
Copyright ©2002-2006 Kokugakuin University. All rights reserved.
Ver. 1.3