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Home » 1. General Introduction » Religious and Intellectual Influences on Shinto
Shinto and Onmyōdō
While being based on the Chinese theory of yinyang-wuxing (Yin-Yang and the "five phases of matter"), Onmyōdō was a unique Japanese adaptation that established itself around the tenth century. Under the earlier system of state civil and penal codes known as the ritsuryō system, duties of the officials of the Onmyōryō (Bureau of Divination) included onmyō (Yin-Yang divination), tenmon (astrology), koyomi (calendrical studies), and rōkoku (time keeping), but the term Onmyōdō was not used then as an overall referent for these areas of study. If forced to use specific terms in description, one might say that while there existed onmyō theories (onmyō shisō) or the "study of onmyō" (onmyōgaku), the actual "Way of onmyō" (Onmyōdō) was only founded and spread by the Kamo and Abe families as a religion of magic from around the tenth century. Based on this context, Onmyōdō should be considered as referring to the group of adherents and the activities of officials originating in the Onmyōryō, who were in charge of conducting rituals and magic.
       As for the social factors behind Onmyōdō's establishment, first is the fact that the the Kamo and Abe families had come to hold hereditary claim to the leading positions of Onmyō no kami, Suke, and Hakase of the Bureau of Onmyōryō. Second is the growth of individual reliance on magical invocations (kitō) and personal religious faith among the nobility. It is likewise possible to see Shrine Shinto as gradually taking shape out of the transformations that took place within the kami cults (jingi saishi) of the ancient ritsuryō system. It was not until the tenth century that shrines had permanent priests (shinshoku) who acted as the main ritualists in ceremonial worship. We should probably consider that the foundations of Shrine Shinto as it continues to exist today were laid during that period. It should not be thought, however, that no relationship existed between Yin-Yang thought and kami cults before the tenth century, since it has been pointed out that Daoist thought may have influenced the Japanese view of the emperor, and that the "three seasonal festivals" (sansetsusai) observed at the Grand Shrines of Ise (Ise Jingū), namely the Kannamesai together with the semiannual "month festivals" of Tsukinamisai (held in the sixth and twelfth months) were performed in accordance with principles of Yin-Yang and gogyō throught. Considerable room for further study, however, remains

The Development of Onmyōdō Rites
The Bureau of Onmyō (Onmyōryō) was responsible for studying and reporting matters of divination, dates and time, and directional interdictions (hōki or kataimi), but beginning in the Heian period, it was also made responsible for performing spirit pacification and thanksgiving rites at imperial mausolea, together with land purification rites. Furthermore, with the rising reliance of noble society upon techniques and rituals based on Yin-Yang thought from the latter half of the ninth into the early tenth centuries, Onmyōryō officials were placed in charge of performing the state rituals of Takayamasai, Goryūsai, and Raikōsai, which were meant as invocations of plentiful harvests of the five grains (gokoku kigan).
       From the tenth century, Onmyōdō ceremonies were introduced as rites of personal protection for the emperor, thus leading to the deep penetration of Onmyōdō rituals into noble society. For example, records make frequent mention of such a diversity of rites as Shokujōsai, Kikisai, Takuchinsai, Raikōsai, Honmyōsai, Rōjinshōsai, Taizanfukunsai, Niwabi narabi Hirano kamado no kami sai, Sangensai, Ta-ichishikisai, Zansōsai, Sanhō goteisai, Kasasai, Taisaisai, Kaijakusai, Daiyakusai, Keikokushōsai, Shōkonsai, and Dokūsai. These were all either rites directed toward celestial bodies as invocations of happiness and longevity, or rituals meant to ward off calamity and disease. Within the Ritsuryō system, rites containing elements of Chinese Yin-Yang thought already existed among the rituals to kami performed by Jingikan officials. The Engishiki lists regular seasonal rites such as Chinkasai, Fūjinsai, Ōharae and Michiaesai, as well as extraordinary rites such as Kantoki no kamisai, Chinjingūjisai, Rajō no miagamono, Kyūjō shigu ekijinsai, Kinai no sakai no jusho ekijinsai, Bankaku wo sakai ni okurukamisai, and Shōjinsai. These rites of Chinese origin made use of animal skins and shared characteristics in common with Onmyōdō rites. As Onmyōdō rituals penetrated noble society, in some cases rites originally observed as part of the kami cult were replaced by Onmyōdō rituals. An example is the ritual of Shikaku shikyōsai (a rite performed by officials of the Onmyōdō on Kyoto's four bordering roads to exorcize epidemic kami and evil spirits), which in the tenth century came to be given importance as a state rite in replacement of the earlier Ekijinsai (festival to exorcize epidemic kami), which was part of the kami cult.
       The growth of Onmyōdō rites, however, did not occur due to state sponsorship, but rather was the result of growing popularity among the nobility and people, who used Onmyōdō as privately sponsored rites and personal magic to invite blessings and avoid misfortune. Even the Nakatomi no harae, compiled by the head of the Jingikan in the mid-ninth century, was borrowed by Onmyō practitioners from the eleventh century and adapted for use in rites of purification (harae) with Onmyōdō flavor, such as the Nanase no harae, and the Rokujikarinhō. It is said that private rituals spells (kitō) performed by Onmyō practitioners were adopted in the late eleventh century by the rapidly expanding class of gon-negi (Provisional Suppliant) priests at the Grand Shrines of Ise, thus leading to the birth of the unique style of purification rites found there.

Medieval Shinto Theories and Onmyōdō
The Nakatomi no harae kunge of Ryōbu Shintō, which came into being in the Kamakura period, describes the practice of "taking refuge in" (kie) and performing the gesture of gasshō to the sun and moon, the five planets, the twelve divine generals, and twenty-eight celestial houses, and suggests that the ancient kami Ibukidonushi (see Harae-do no kami) was an acolyte of the Chinese deity Taizan Fukun (see Sekizan Myōjin). In Ruiju jingi hongen, a representative work of Ise Shintō, the author Watarai Ieyuki's reproduces Zhou Dunyi's taijitu (Jp. taikyokuzu) and hetu (Jp. kato) (the original form of the geomantic bagua [Jp. hake] diagram), and guayinfengjixiangpei, using these to expound the theory of Yin-Yang and Five Phases of Matter (in'yō gogyō) in the context of a description of the creation of heaven and earth. While criticizing Ryōbu Shintō and the Buddhistic theory of honji suijaku, Yoshida Kanetomo, founder of Yoshida Shintō, utilizes a knowledge of Onmyōdō to proclaim his vision of Yuiitsu Shintō ("Singular Shintō" or "Only-One Shintō"). In his Yuiitsu Shintō myōbō yōshū, Yoshida claims that the three kami sūtras Tengen jinpen shinmyōkyō, Chigen jintsū shinmyōkyō and Jingen jinryoku shinmyōkyō were pronouncements by the kami Amenokoyane, and that they were transmitted to earth by Hokutoshichigenseishukushinkun, the apotheosis of the divine constellation Hokuto Shichisei (the seven stars of the Big Dipper), who descended from heaven.
       In Shintō taii, Yoshida Kanetomo associated the seven openings of the head with the "seven stars" of heaven, and the five internal organs with the five phases of matter on earth (gogyō), frequently adopting Onmyōdō theory as he explicated the cosmology of Yoshida Shinto. From the Sengoku Period (1477-1568), the Yoshida family underwent a remarkable rise within the Shinto world, while within Onmyōdō, the Kamo family went extinct while the Tsuchimikado, who carried on the lineage of the Abe family, bore concurrent responsibility for calendrical studies (rekidō) and astronomy/astrology (tenmondō). In the Edo Period, after the Yoshida family gained Bakufu recognition of its control over the appointment of the Shinto priestly offices of negi and kannushi, the Tsuchimikado family was granted Bakufu recognition of their authority over Onmyōdo practitioners, in this way leading to a clear separation in the statuses of Shinto priests (shinshoku) and Onmyōdō practitioners (Onmyōji). On the other hand, both continued to undertake the same practices of bokusen (plastromancy; tortoise-shell divination), kitō (thaumaturgic spells and incantations), and harae (rites of purification), with the result that disputes now occurred on occasion between the two. After Tsuchimikado Yasutomi adopted Yamazaki Ansai's theory of "Confucian Shinto" (Juka Shinto) and founded his own school of Tensha Shinto (see Tsuchimikado Shintō), the range of activities that Shinto priests and Onmyōji practiced in common only increased. As a result of the ordinance implanting the separation of Shinto and Buddhism (Shinbutsu Bunri) in 1868 and the Daijōkan declaration of 1870 that prohibited the Tsuchimikado family's Tensha Shinto, for all practical purposes the Tsuchimikado family's control over Onmyōdō practitioners collapsed, and some switched their allegiance to sectarian Shinto groups (see kyōha Shintō ). Elements of Onmyōdō can continued to be found mixed in modern Shrine Shinto, and Onmyōdō elements current within folk religious practice were also absorbed by Shinto-derived religious groups. In sum, Onmyōdō elements have been diffused within Shintō in the modern period.

—Hayashi Makoto
"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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