A popular Dictionary of Shinto
By Brian Bocking
Chinju (no kami)
Kannagara no michi
Kuni no miyatsuko
Sanshu no shinki
Sendai Kuji Hongi
Taikyo senpu undo
Agata-yo-matsuri- a ferocious night matsuri at the Ujiagata jinja, Kyoto, in which Yukaya-clad (formally naked) youths carry a large ladder-like mikoshi, to the Buddhist temple Byodo-in in a manner which represents the vigorous spirit of its kami, Kono-hana-sakuya-hime. She is also kami of Mt. Fuki and Mt. Asama and the wife of the legendary first emperor Ninigi.
Aidono- aidono are altars to the left and right of the principal kami in the honden. They enshrine subordinate or “guest kami,” deities who are known as aidono no kami.
Akaki- purity and cheerfulness of heart. A synonym of seimei.
Aku- “evil”, it’s range of meaning includes unhappiness, inferiority, misfortune, disturbance and moral evil.
Bakemono- spirits possessed of evil powers. The term covers various spirits such as Kappa, mono no-ke (evil spirits), oni, tengu (a bird-like spirit of the forest) and yamanba or yama-uba (a mountain witch).
Bekka- “set apart” (i.e. sacred) fire. It is often generated by rubbing wood and is used in rites of purification (saikai) before a ritual.
Bonsatsu- Bodhisattva (Sanskrit). The Buddhist bonsatsu is an embodiment, visible or invisible, of the highest ideal of Mahayana Buddhism and is for all practical purposes indistinguishable in character from the various Mahayana (“great vehicle”) Buddhas (butsu, nyorai). She or he, the most popular in Japan is the female bosatsu Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara)- is possessed of the highest wisdom, compassion and other perfections of selflessness and therefore appears in this world not as a result of craving or desire like other beings but only to engage in “skillful means” to bring living beings to enlightenment. To perform their liberating work bonsatsu appear in various convenient forms, including those of local kami. Before the Meiji period shrines or shrine-temple complexes (jisha, jinguji) routinely worshiped kami as bosatsu or Buddhas. Named bosatsu and kami were correlated more or less systematically with each other according to the history, legends and affiliations of the shrine-temple in question. Until 1868 for example Hachiman was Hachiman dai (great) bosatsu, Susa-no-o was Gozu Tenno. Statues and painting (shinzo, kaiga) of Buddhas and bosatsu were employed from the Nara period onwards as shintai of the kami but with a few chance exceptions were burnt or disposed of as part of shinbutsu bunri.
Bunrei- divided spirit, fraction of a spirit. A ceremony to divide and the install the bunrei of the kami of a main shrine is the normal means by which a branch shrine (bunsha) is established and empowered. The rei or mitama of the kami is not diminished in any way by this “division”. Famous shrines may distribute thousands of bunrei over time, to establish new shrines or enhance the power of existing ones. The Iwashimizu-Hachimanhu is reputed to have distributed 30,000 bunrei, the Usa Hachimangu 15,000 and the Suwa Taisha over 10,000. O-fuda function in a similar way to bunrei but are intended for the home kamidana which does not have the status of a recognished shrine.
Bunsha- branch shrine. Subsidiary shrine. A shrine established independent and tributary relationship to a main or original shrine. Branch shrines might be established because of a clan migrated with its tutelary deity, or devotees of a particular shrine moved to a new area, or a land holding was dedicated to the deity of a main shrine. A branch shrine is normally established by introducing a bunrei “part spirit” or “divided spirit” of the primary kami into the new shrine. Major shrines with priestly lineages such as those of Inari, Tenjin, Kasuga, Kompira, Munakata, Suwa, Izumo and Hachiman have networks sometimes thousands of branch shrines developed over hundreds of years. Bunsha in the form of massha etc., are also included within the precincts of most shrines.
Butsudan- Buddhist altar, found in the home of senior living member of a family. This currently amounts to about 60 % of Japanese homes. It generally enshrines the ancestors of the household, for whom Buddhist rites are performed on a daily or less frequent basis. The ancestors are regarded as in some sense living in the butsudan and important family events should be announced to them. The institution of the butsusan reflects, as well as an expression of attachment to the deceased and filial piety, a widespread belief in the continuing existence of the personality after death, and the need to pacify potentially disruptive spirits with Buddhist rites.
Chien-shin-area related kami. A kami, worshiped by a small group living in a particular geographical area, which protects that region.
Chigi- the upright X-shaped crossed beams at each end of the roof of a shrine. Where the tops are at vertically this normally indicates a male kami is enshrined, is horizontally a female.
Chinju (no kami)- a deity similar to the Yashikigami who belongs to or is invited in to protect a specific area. Chinju no kami are traditionally found in large and important buildings including Buddhist temples and tend to become regarded as Ujigami or ubusuna no kami. An example is the chinju of the kanda area of Tokyo, propitiated in the Kanada-matsuri.
Chinka-shiki- the rite of “pacifying fire” by walking on red-hot charcoal. Straw mats forming a pathway about five meters long and one meter wide are covered with sand, and on top of them is placed a bed of glowing charcoal. Bamboos with fonds still on them are stuck around the pathway and joined with straw rope hung with shide, effectively making the site a himorogi. In some cases the moon-deity is petitioned to descend and pacify the god of fire. Participants then circumambulate the walkway, preparing themselves for the fire walking. Salt is spread on the hot coals at each end and the lead priest and followers walk across the coals. When this part of the ceremony is completed onlookers can take part in the fire walking. The rite may be interpreted, for example in ontako-kyo and shinshu-kyo, as a rite of purification of the devotee. Following the “pacification” of the hot element of fire.
Chinkon- “pacifying the soul”- (mi) tama-shizume. A chi-kon-sai (matsuri for the pacification or repose of souls) is held in the imperial palace before the daijosai and the rite is practiced especially at the Iso-no-kami jingu, Tenri, Nara. The idea of chikon derives from the belief that a soul which had departed from the body at death could be brought back by rituals including dancing, in forms resembling early Kagura. There are several different interpretations of chikon or tama-shizume including drawing on the strength of a gai-rai-kon, a (higher) soul from beyond; pacification of one’s soul and of others, including the whole community; a kind of intercession for the souls of the dead; unification of dead souls with the kami, and promotion of the “soul” of the state and the sovereign.
Dai-guji-a special rank of high priest at the Ise shrine whose role is to assist the imperial representative (saishu) in rites and administration of the shrine.
Daimyo- “Great names”. The territorial lords of feudal Japan. Under the hoken system of the Tokugawa period they were responsible to the shogun for ruling their own feudal domains up to the Meiji restoration in 1868. Though historically the wealthiest are most powerful rules in Japan, they were technically aristocracy surrounding the imperial family who for centuries lived in reduced circumstances in Kyoto and who re-emerged with 19th century titles of court, baron, etc., when the daimyo fell from grace and from power in the Meiji restoration.
Dajokan- great council of state, presided over by the chancellor, dajo-daijin and responsible for matsuri-goto. According to the ancient Ritsuryo system the dajokan together eith the Jingikan constituted the two branches of government what is often called “the Dajokan system” was the form of organization used for the Meiji government form its inception in 1868 until 1885 when a cabinet style government was formed. Initially it vested authorities in a single source, the dajokan, following what is proclaimed to be the ancient principle of saisei itchi “unity of rites and government”. In the following year the jingikan was created as an agency of government equal or superior to the dajokan.
Dango- rice flour dumplings cooked by the New Year bonfire. Like mochi they are popularly believed to give protection from illness.
Doburoku-unrefined, home-brewed sake.
Dosojin- the “ancestors” of roads, also known as Sae no kami or dorokujin and often represented as on old couple. As kami of roads, borders, mountain passes and other”traditional” spaces they protect the village against pestilence and disease as well as from spirits and travelers. The dosojin also take phallic from and are associated with procreation and childbirth. They may be found enshrined in this form in dodojin jinja.
Dozoku- a term for the extended joint family. Rites previously performed privately by and for the dozuku came to be performed in shrines and by Shinto priests after the Meiji restoration.
Dozaku-shin- ancestoral kami of a dozoku or kinship group. The dozaku comprises the branch families (bunke) of a main family (honke). Worship of the dozuku-shin is carried out by the honke or main household.
Eboshi- a tall rounded hat worn by shinto priests.
Edo period- the period from 1603-1868 when the Tokugawa shoguns were based at Edo.
Eho-mairi- lucky-direction visit. A practice derived from ancient onmyodo beliefs and practices relating to auspicious and inauspicious directions which continue to be influential in Japan. It has contributed to the widespread practice of hatsumode at New Year.
Emaki-mono-picture scrolls with accompanying text, popular after the Heian period and used to tell the founding stories (engi) and record the miracles associated with shrines. The best-known example is the Kitano tenjin engi of the Kitano Tenmangu.
En-gi- legends of the foundation of a shrine or temple. They are often valuable documents which constitute shrine treasures. They contribute substantially to the shrine’s reputation and attraction to visitors by explaining and recording instances of the some times miraculous manifestation of the shintoku or mi-itsu of the enshrined kami.
Enji shiki- the Engi-shiki, procedures (or institutes) of the Engi era (901-923) was a 50 volume ritsuryo text which included legal and administrative procedures and the ritual and ceremonial calendar of the imperial court (e.g. the procedures for the institution of the saigu). It was completed in 927 and promulgated 40 years later. The Engi shiki preserves the text of 27 ancient norito or ritual prayers used in court ceremonial and it refers to 3,132 official recognised shrines, later shiki ritual calendar was followed in reduced form in the Tokugawa era and replaced in the Meiji period by a different framework of 13 imperial celebrated as national shinto holidays.
En-musubi- “Joining of en.” En means Karmic connections or affinity, and en-musubi means marriage. Certain shrines include the Izumo taisha offer en-musubi (or ryoen) as a riyaku.
En-nichi- a day with special connections (en). A day or days in each month related to a particular deity which give rise to special celebrations, visits to the shrine and market days at both shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.
Fudoki- literally “records of wind and earth”, descriptions of the natural features of an area. Regional government records submitted to the imperial court after an order of 713. They include details of names, products and legends associated with the area, thus providing some of the earliest written information on religious practices. The complete Izumo fudoki and partial records from Hizen, Hitachi, Harima and Bungo have survived. These are also Tokugawa period documents with the same name.
Funadama- boat-spirit. A female divinity who protects and helps mariners, and fishermen. She is represented by symbols such as a woman’s hair, dice, money and the five grains inserted into the mast of a boat.
Gan-gake- prayer for help addressed to a supernatural being. It may be accompanied by a promise in return to abstain from certain types of food, etc.
Genroku era- the period from 1688-1703. An era of innovation and creativity in the arts which lends its name to much of the culture of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It saw the development of ukiyoe, wood block, prints of the “floating world.”
Genzu-riyaku- or just riyaku. Benefits in this world, as opposed to rewards in the hereafter. Many kami or shrines are credited with the power to grant particular riyaku. Indeed, kami can be seen as specialists in riyaku.
Gishikiden-a building within a shrine used in recent times for weddings and other ceremonies not performed in the haiden or heiden.
Go- the honorific prefix go- is attached to a word to indicate that the speaker is humbling him or her self before the thing to which the word refers, as if before an emperor. It is part of the “super polite” level of speech in Japanese, reserved for dealing with the highest ranks or for comprehensively humbling oneself in relation to another. “Go-“ (like o-, or mi-) is sometimes translated into English as “August”, “Honorable”, etc. but it really indicates that the world “go-shintai” implies an attitude of reverence towards a shintai. Such a attitude is central to worship in shinto as in other religions, and honorific language naturally abounds. Some shinto terms prefixed with honorifics are listed under their main word in this dictionary, e.g. for “go-bunrei” (divided spirit), while others are not (e.g. o-fuda, o-mamori are listed as written).
Go-hei- a wooden stick or staff with sacred paper strips (also terms gohei or nusa) attached. It is held by the priest to indicate the presence of the kami. A kinpei is a “golden” gohei.
Gokaku- educational success. One of the riyaku (benefits) most likely to be offered by temples and shrines and petitioned for by pre-university students in contemporary Japan, where employability ans life prospects are, and are firmly believed to be, closely linked to academic achievement at school. O-mamori and o-fuda for educational success may be obtained, ema inscribed and prayers addressed to the kami, particularly Tenjin who is the patron kami of scholarship.
Gokoku jinja- “nation-protecting shrine.” The name originally given to provincial branch shrines of the Yasukuni Jinja dedicated in the Meiji period to the enshrined spirits of the war dead. After the Russo-Japanese war (1904-6) gokoku jinja war memorial shrines were build in each prefecture. In 1945 under the Shinto Directive the shrines lost state support and many smaller war memorials in school grounds, etc. were destroyed. There has been a number of legal cases in the post-war period fought over the use of local taxes to support gokoku jinja, and over the issue of local government officials and jietai (self-defense force) members taking part in shrine ceremonies at gokoku jinja in honor of the war dead.
Gongen- avatar, incarnation, manifestation. Commonly dai-gongen “great gongen”. An incarnation or temporary manifestation of a “Buddha” or bosatsu. Formal designations of kami, as gongen seems to have occurred mainly towards the end of the Heian period, in the 11th and 12th centuries. Gongen were a focus of worship and devotion associated particularly with pre-Meiji Yamabushi (mountain ascetics) but they amabushi system was virtually destroyed and gongen given “shinto” names as part of the shinbutsu bunri campaign. Examples of kami as gongen include Kompira dai-gongen of Amida Buddha and Tokugawa, Ieyasu as Tosho-dai-gongen (at Nikko). Other notable shrines designated as gongen were Atsuta, Toshino and Kumano.
Gongen-zukuri- “gongen style”. A style of shrine architecture which features extensive lacquer work and ornate carvings. The main shrine buildings are laid out in the shape of an “H.” It is common in shrines closely associated with esoteric Buddhist centers and became popular after it was used for the 1636 Tosho-gu mausoleum of the gongen Tokugawa, Ieyasu at Nikko. Gongen-zukuri is used as a general term for styles incorporating gongen features.
Goryo- also onryo. Unquiet or vengeful spirits, typically of those who have died violently or unhappily and without appropriate rites. Unless pacified, normally by Buddhist rites but exceptionally by enshrinement as a kami. They may haunt or inflict suffering on the living. A belief in goryo or onryo and the necessity to pacify them underlies much traditional and modern Japanese religion and is a favorite theme of the new religions, many of which aim to reinforce ancestor-reverence. The pacification of ancestors is also seen as a form of purification, an expulsion of evil and an expression of filial piety, thus answering to magical, soterio-logical and moral dimensions of the Japanese religious tradition.
Goryo-rituals for the pacification of goryo. These developed in Kyoto from the 9th century and became widely popular. The Gion matsuri and other festivals originated as goryo-e.
go-shiki-ban- colored ribbons or large banners in five colors corresponding to the five directions (north, black or purple, east, blue-green, south, red, west, white, center, yellow) which are attached to objects or hung in or in front of the heiden. They are found particularly in shrines with strong Buddhist connections.
Gu- the title of a type of shrine. Today gu, not be confused with jingu which is the highest designation, normally indicates a shrine dedicated to the spirit of a member of the imperial family or having some other specially distinguished background.
Guji- chief priest of a shrine. The highest grade of shinto priest apart from the saishu at Ise. After the Meiji restoration the hereditary role of guji was abolished at a number of major shrines including the Ise Jingu. Hie taisha, Kasuga taisha, Suwa taisha, Kamo-wake-ikazuchi-jinja and others and the guji were thenceforth appointed by the government. However in many shrines the role of guji remains in practice hereditary. A guji may be responsible for a single shrine or sevel (even as many as 30) small shrines. Guji enjoyed relatively high social status from the Meiji restoration to 1945. In most shrines, except for the very large ones, the role of guji or kannushi is a part-time occupation.
Hachimaki- head band. Hachimaki refers to any headband or sweat band worn around the forehead, often with a slogan inscribed. It is used in shinto rituals of purification including matsuri where it is often worn with a happi coat. It has come to symbolize commitment, exertion, determination or sincerity (makoto) in a communal enterprise.
Haiden- hall of worship. A shrine building or equivalent space, part of the hongu, which is available to worshipers for their prayers and their offerings. Distinguish from heiden.
Hairei- the form of individual worship used at shinto shrines. It varies in degree of elaborateness and formality, but typically comprises approaching the kami, making a small offering (saimotsu) by throwing a few cions into the offertory box (saisen-bako), bowing one or two times, clapping the hands (kashiwade) twice or more, and bowing again.
Hakama- formal divided skirt worn by men or women including shrine attendants. Its color indicates rank.
Hakushu- hand-clapping; part of revering the kami (hairei). In a shinto context it is called kashiwade.
Hamaya- “evil-destroying arrow”. Symbolic arrows said in various forms at shrines during New Year shrine visits (hatsu-mode) throughout Japan and kept in the home throughout the year to ensure good luck. In the ceremony known as omato-shinji (target rite) at the Hachiman jinja, Tokushima on January 15th, it is children who shoot arrows to dispel evil spirits.
Happi- originally a workman’s livery coat. A short wrap-around coat worn at festivals. The happi or matsuri hanten (“festival short-coat”) is often paired with ha hachi-maki headband. In Tokyo hanten are often decorated on the back with the crest or symbol (daimon) of the local Mikoshi group (-gumi, -ryu, -ren, or kai). The Mikoshi-beare’s outfit in modeled on the dress of the Edo period firemen (tobi).
Hassokuan- a wide eight legged table normally made of hinoki. It is used in a shrine to support ritual items such as heikaku, tamagushi and food offerings (shinsen).
Hiogi- a plain tan which forms part of the formal attire of a shinto priest. It is made of a narrow strips of hinoki tied with thread and imitates the type of fan used by Heian aristocrats. There is a brightly painted version (akomeogi) use by priestesses.
Ho- the outer garment, nowadays usually of black, red or light blue, worn by a shinto priest.
Hobei- the presentation of offerings to the kami. Ordinarily it means the offering of symbolic heihaki by worshipers but hobei may comprise other items such as jewels, silk, special paper, weapons, money and utensils. Hobei can be a means of affirming the rank of a shrine, depending on who is making the offerings (e.g. the emperor).
Hokora- a small “shrine within a shrine” or a small wayside shrine.
Honden- the main shrine or inner sanctuary where the kami is enshrined.
Hongu- in a jingu the central or basic shrine housing a particular principal deity, as opposed to subsidiary shrines to that deity (bekku, massha, okumiya). It normally comprises the honden, heidan and haiden sections. In the case of a jinja it is called honsha.
Ichi-no-miya-“principal shrine” (followed by ni-no-miya and san-no-miya for second and third rank shrines). Late Heian period terms used by local governs in the Kyoto Osaka area to identify the currently most distinguished or representative shrines of a particular region in order of their current rank, for shrine visit purposes.
Ikan- shinto priest outer garment, nowadays colored usually black, red or blue. The while silk version of this style called saifuku is used for formal occasions.
Imi- avoidance, taboo, something which causes pollution or hindrance, especially to a ceremony. This may include taboo words such as kiru, to cut, during a wedding, temporary states of pollution (such as mourning), inauspicious times, dates and years of age (yakudoshi) and dangerous directions for travel. Most popular beliefs about imi including avoidance of dangerous and inauspicious directions for journeys (kata-imi) which can be evaded by taking an indirect route (kata-tagae) derive from Taoist ideas about the movements of dangerous deities around the points of the compass.
Imi-kotoba- tabooed words (some because they are related to Buddhism) which should not be employed during rituals for the kami, particularly at the Ise jingu. Substitute words used instead include nakako for butsu (Buddha), some kami for kyo (Buddhist sutra) and kawaeafuki for ji pr tera (Buddhist temple). Non-Buddhist tabooed terms include naoru for shi (deaths), yasumi for byo, illnesses, are for ketsu, blood and kusahira for shinshi, meat.
Irei sai- the ceremony held at shrines to remember and pacify the spirits (tama, rei) of the war dead, carried out pre-eminently at the yasukuni jinja and regional and local gokoku jinja and shokonsha built since the Meiji period for that purpose.
Ise ko-“Ise group”. A traditional local confraternity (ko) whose members, who are usually of the same age-group, meet periodically for devotional or social gatherings and to save up money for the time-honored purpose of sending representatives to worship at the Ise jingu, though the money may in practice be used for other tips.
Ishi-age-the practice of “putting a stone” or pebble somewhere in a shrine as a customary act of devotion when visiting or pilgrimage. Pebbles received at shrines or temples have prayers inscribed on them and are taken home. When the prayer or wish is fulfilled (i.e. recovery from illness) the pebble is returned to the shrine.
Iwasaka- an unpolluted open space surrounded by sacred rocks, used for the worship of kami.
Iwai-den- (or iwai-jin) small village shrines containing the tutelary deities of an extended family. Numerous different kami and Buddhist deities are enshrined in this way.
Iwau- also o-iwai. A term used for occasions for celebration, blessing or congratulation which may contain religious, including shinto, elements. In the Nihongi iwau meant religious abstinence.
Jigami- land-kami. A term used in Western Japan, similar to jinushigami or tochigami. It refers to the enshrined spirit or a village founder or one who first cultivates the land in a particular area. The shrine is usually located in a corner or border of a field. In some cases ancestors are thought to become jigami. Jigami may also be equated with ta no kami.
Jingi-another term for kami.
Jingu-shrine of a kind formally superior to jinja, including the two Ise shrines (Naiku, geku) and some shrines where imperial ancestors are enshrined (e.g. Meiji jingu).
Jinguji-a Buddhist place of worship set up within or by a shrine to a kami. The usual arrangement before shinbutsu bunrei.
Jinja- the generic term for shrine. Litterally “kami-place”, a reminder that kami are generally closely identified with the vicinity of the shrine, not seen as remote deities to be worshiped via any shrine. In shrine names, jinja was traditionally used (i.e. before the Meiji restoration) for large regional shrines (omiwa jinja, Atsuta-jinja, Nikko-futara-san jinja, etc.) some of which are new renamed taisha, rather than for small tutelary village shrines which could normally be known as “the ujigami of (places)”. Certain grand shrines with imperial associations are named jingu rather than jinja. Recognised shrines multiplied throughout the country during the 15th-16th centuries as the Yoshida priestly clan bestowed status upon folk deities and kami, granting shrines the right to use names such as daimyojin. The entire shrine system was transformed in the period 1868-1945, about half the existing shrines were forcibly “merged” (jinja gappei), all shrines were centrally ranked and ujiko status was extended from elite male members of the shrine guilds to all members of the local community. There are according to different accounts 80,000-115,000 recognised shrines now remaining in Japan after the shrine mergers of 1900-29 which removed around 83,000 locally recognised shrines. Many jinja are branch shrines of a major shrine (Inari, Iwashimizu, Hachiman, etc.) and so belong to national or regional networks as well as, or in some cases instead of, being affiliated to the Jinja Honcho. Smaller shrines may not have a full-time priest and tend to be supported by neighborhood collections or donations and managed by representatives from the local community (sodai-kai) while the largest shrines draw support from a wider consistency of pilgrims, visitors and worshipers and can employ a number of priests. Many local shrines these days are little used except at festival times. Each shrine has its own particular characteristics and there is no “typical” shrine but there are typical features, though they vary enormously in architectural style. Most shrines have up to three torii marking the approach to the shrine, a place for ritual cleansing (temizuya) and such ritual borders as a gateway, fence, small bridge, and curving path guarding the heart of the shrine where shrine buildings exist these generally comprise honden, haiden, and heiden, in larger shrines buildings for special purposes such as a hishikiden, norito-den and kagura-den maybe found. There are also shrine offices (shamusho) and kiosks from which o-fuda, o-mamori, ema, etc. are obtained in return for donations. Although jinja are oridinarily thought of in terms of their often attractive buildings, a “kami place” (himorogi, iwasaka, shinji) actually needs no adornment beyond perhaps a simple shimenawa or heihaku. Buildings were perhaps first needed when a sacred object such as a sword or a mirror used as a shintai had to be protected. Within the precincts (keidai-chi) of a jinja (or jingu or taisha) may be found keidai-sha, minor shrines variously called bekku “separate shrine”, sessha “additional shrine”, and massha “branch shrine”, or by other names including -jinja, -miya- and -yashiro.
Japan-currently a democratic nation state with a constitutional monarchy and a common language, Japanese. It comprises about 3,000 islands bordering the East Asian mainland, close to Korea. The Southern (Ryukyu) islands reach almost to Taiwan and the northern islands are close to Siberia. The inhabitants are mainly ethic Japanese and some indigenous Ainu, with significant minorities of Koreans (most of whom are third or fourth generation and largely indistinguishable from the Japanese) and now other Asians and Western peoples. The word “Japan” (nihon, nippon) means (land of the) sun’s origin, land of the rising sun, which suggests a Chinese perspective. A more “Japanese” term used for Japan is Yamato (after the earliest political center) or more commonly “waga kuni” “our country”. From the Meiji period until 1945 the notion that the emperor, the land and its people were descended from the Japanese deities and that a citizen of Japan was one who followed shinto and revered the emperor as a deity, regardless of any personal or family religious affiliation, was successfully disseminated through the education system and extended to overseas Korean and Chinese in the Japanese empire. Since 1945 there has been freedom of religion in Japan coupled with separation of religion and state, leading to a flourishing religious pluralism. In recent times efforts have been made to promote shinto as a broad-minded form of spirituality, possibly with environmental overtones, which though indigenous to the Japanese nation is not coterminous with the Japanese state and is therefore open in principle to non-Japanese people.
Ainu- or emishi (y) ezo. Indigenous inhabitants of Japan who were gradually pushed back to the northern island of Hokkaido by Japanese expansionist wars. Hokkaido was fully colonized by the Japanese only in the 20th century. Ainu culture is different from Japanese, but there have been many cross-influences in the long course of Japanese-Ainu relations in the Japanese islands. Ainu festivals include kotan matsuri (community festivals) similar to ujigami festivals. The kushiro kotan matsuri dedicated to the deity of lakes now takes place in Kushiro, Hokkaido on the second Sunday in September. The best-known Ainu festival is the iyomati or kuma matsuri (bear sacrifice festival).
Jinja cho- shrine boards. Local (prefectural) branches of the Jinja Honcho. They were set up after the Shinto Directive to replace the prewar local government offices which dealt with the administration of shrines in a particular prefecture.
Jinja fukkyu- “shrine restoration”. An official term recognized in the prewar shrine administration law, which presupposes an understanding of jinja gappei. It refers to the process by which the deity of a central, merged shrine was enshrined in one of the shrines which had been merged with it, thus re-establishing the previously abolished shrine. However the officially approved deity so “restored” was not necessarily the same as the local kami who has originally been “merged”, so from the point of view of local people it was likely that no “restoration” was taking place. In the unofficial form of “shrine restoration” (which has been termed by scholars jinja fukushi to differentiate it from the legal term jinja fukkyu) local residents resurrected their local shrines in some unauthorized form after jinja gappei, perhaps by using a building as a yohai-jo for their absent kami. This was a defiant move in prewar times. Since 1945 the “recognition” of shrines was no longer a matter for government so restoration of previously-merged shrines could and did take place where local support for such a move existed.
Jinja gappei- shrine merger. Also referred to as jinja goshi “joint enshrinement”. It refers to a process where shrines (and their kami) A and B are “merged” with shrine C, such that shrine C remains as the place of enshrinement of all the kami, and shrines A and B disappear. Some mergers of shoshi (small, unattended and often private shrines) had been undertaken in the kokugaku stronghold of Mito and elsewhere before the Meiji period but the term jinja gappei is generally understood to mean the late Meiji government’s massive program of merging assorted local shrines with a district’s main shrine-or what thereby became it’s main shrine-on the principle of “one’s village, one shrine” (isson issha). Shrine mergers began in earnest in the early 1900's, with Mie prefecture, the home of the Ise, jingu, setting an example for other parts of the country. The policy resulted in the dissolution of around 83,000 shrines in Japan, about half the total number. These were mainly unranked (mukakusha) or district (gosha) shrines but shrines which disappeared included even venerable skiinai-sha in several cases. The policy was unevenly enforced. In Mie prefecture over 90 % of shrines disappeared, including nearly two-thirds of the officially recognized “village shrines” (sonsha). Most of the mergers took place between 1906-1912 but the process continued until the late 1920's. From the government’s point of view the object of shrine mergers was to rationalize local administration in order to assist economic progress, especially in the wake of the costly Russo-Japanese war of 1904-6. For some time the authorities had wanted to create larger local district units. “Merging” shrines were perceived as a way of overcoming traditional divisions for independent local communities claim monetary offerings (shinsen heihakuryo) from the state. At the same time the policy aimed to raise the status of each government-approved shrine and hence the status of shinto generally by merging into it one or more other shrines. This would make it easier to control shrine activities and bring shrines into the service of the state. The ideal was to make shrine parishes fit local authority units of administration such as large villages or city wards. In practice shrine merger meant the demolition of buildings and transfer or disposal of the land of the minor shrine. Only the shintai remain, to be ritually transferred to the remaining shrine. Although minor kami joining the main shrine might in theory enjoy an enhanced status, parishioners of the destroyed shrine has to become new and hence lower status ujiko of a shrine with which they had no previous affiliation and which might be some distance away. More over the kami of a small shrine was often thought of simply as the sacredness of that particular locality, and a locality does not move. Many people saw merger as the isolation of their local kami in a distant place. The shrine merger policy was carried through despite a good deal of public opposition and criticism. It generated efforts among some local communities even in the prewar period unofficially to restore their lost shrine or to maintain buildings at the site as places for yohaijo (“worship afar”) of their removed deity. In some cases local authorities acted under-the law to “restore” to a local shrine the officially sanctioned kami of the main merged shrine. Shrine merger was a cause of considerable concern among shinto priests, mainly because the shrine mergers rode roughshod over traditional social, economic, and religious networks reflected in the location of shrines, and priests were expected to justify the mergers. In the postwar period there have been many cases of re-establishment of lost shrines in their original settings. Or the development of locally-administered rites or festivals within the area previously covered by the shrine. Nevertheless the religious map of Japan was again radically changed by the jinja gappei, as it had previously been by the shinbutsu bunri of 1868.
Jinja Honcho-usually translated into English as “The Association of Shinto Shrines” or “The Shrine Association”, jinja honcho is the present co-ordinating or governing body for most of “shrine shinto” (jinja shinto). The word “honcho” actually means not “association” but “head government office” so to Japanese ears “honcho” carries official connections, though it would be wrong to infer that jinja honcho is a government organistation. It was formed on 3 February 1946 as voluntary body under the terms of the Shinto Directive to absorb some of the centralized administrative functions of the jinja-kyoku and jingi-in, as part of the postwar program to separate religion and state in Japan. Its headquarters used to be in Shibuya (Tokyo) near Kokugakuin University, with which it is very closely connected. In 1988 the headquarters moved to contemporary purpose-built accommodation near the Meiji jinja. Jinja Honcho currently affirms no particular shinto teaching except the principle of “guidance of the spiritual leadership of the Ise shrines” which it describes as the spiritual homeland (furusato) of Japan, though it did formally adopt in the 1950's a kind of shinto creed (seishin seikatsu no koryo). Jinja Honcho promotes in broad terms namely that shinto is a national system of faith and practice, that it is separate from Buddhism and that shrines throughout Japan form a single hierarchical network with Ise, the shrine of the Imperial Household, at the apex. In accordance with the 1947 constitution of Japan the Jinja Honcho makes no formal claim for the superior status of shinto over other religions in Japan, nor does it assert that shinto is a civic duty and “not a religion” (hi-shukyo), though there is continuing ambivalence on this point, exemplified in cases concerning the Yasukuni jinja, jichinsai and goshi. Sub-officies of the jinja honcho set up in each prefecture to deal with the locally affiliated shrines are called jinja cho. It is the president (tori, ef. Torisha) of the jinja honcho who formally appoints priests to shrines and awards priestly ranks (kai-I). This was the prerogative before Meiji of the jingihaku. The president of jinja honcho and heads of the local jinja cho also undertakes shrine visits as kenpeishi in place of the emperor or local governors. Most of Japan’s shrines (jinja) are independent but affiliated to the jinja honcho, each incorporated member shrine constituting, unlike the honcho itself, a separate “religious juridical person” (shukyo hojin). An “incorporated shrine” is a legal entity which may include several individual shrines. Some shrines did not join the honcho or have left. The Yasukuni jinja and Fushimi Inari taisha are notably independent of jinja honcho and there are some 15 smaller shrine networks such as the jinja honkyo or “shrine association” of Kyoto. Nevertheless more that 80 % of shrines remain part of this national network. In 1993-4 the official yearbook of Religions (shukyo menkan) gave the following statistics for incorporated shrines and individuals affiliated to the jinja honcho (1970 figures are given in square brackets for comparision). Shrines-79,173 [78,986]. “Kyoshi” (a loose term for “clergy”- in the shinto to case shinshoku) -20,336 [17,001]. “Believers”-82,631,196 (58,511,647]. It should be remembered that most of jinja honcho’s “shinto” believers will also be among the 88 million or so who identify themselves in surveys at “Buddhist” believers in a total Japanese population of ca. 120 million.
Jinja kaikan- “shrine hall”. In modern times a purpose-built hotel-like building in a shrine which typically offers all the services required for weddings (clothes hire, video recording, catering, etc.) or other special meetings, events and exhibitions held in the often attractive settings of the shrine which are not strictly shrine-rites but have some relationship to the shrine and provide an important source of income.
Jinja-kyoku-shrine office, or Bureau of Shrine Affairs. Established in 1900 in the Naimusho (Home Ministry), the Jinja kyoku provided for the central administration of shrines and priests throughout the country. A Bureau of Religions (shukyo-kyoku) in the Ministry of Education was established at the same time to over see “religions”. By this time the official view that shinto was not a shukyo, a religion, was well developed. The two new bureaux replaced the shajikyoku which had covered both shinto and Buddhism since the abolition of the ministry of Religion (kyobusho) in 1877. Although as a sub-department for short of the shinto preiesthood’s early Meiji ideal of a restored Ritsuryo-style jinji-kan it did symbolize at a highest level the separation of shinto as a civic duty from other “religions” in Japan. It’s activities were expanded in 1940 through the establishment of the jingi-in. Some claim that the establishment of the jinja-kyoku, rather than earlier Meiji developments, marked the beginning of the “state shinto” (kokka shinto).
Jinja saishiki- regulations concerning the rites performed at shrines, first developed in the early Meiji period as part of the process of centralizing control of shrines and standardizing shrine practices across the nation, in order to synchronize local rites with the ritual calendar of the imperial household. The regulations were revised after the war and reissused by the jinja honcho for its member shrines in 1948.
Jinja shinto- “shrine shinto”. One of a number of modern academic terms used in both the administration and analysis of shinto. In the Shinto Directive it was one of the synonyms of “state shinto”. It has been defined by the jinja honcho throughout Japan’s history, as well as the attitudes using even the term “shinto” in its modern sense to refer to the part in problematic. Shinto since 1945 has been different from the so-called “kokka shinto” (state shinto) of 1868-1945, and Meiji “shinto” in turn different markedly from the socio-religious arrangements of Japan in the preceding eras when the term “shinto” had different meanings and shrine practices were incorporated within a predominantly Buddhist world-view. It is probably advisable to reserve the term “shrine shinto” for the form of shinto to which has existed since 1945 in Japan in which shrines are on the same constitutional footing as all other religious institutions, have no doubt carried forward from prewar days an expectation of centralized guidance, but are financially independent of the state and are no longer guided by government decrees. In this sense “shrine shinto” means the beliefs and practices currently associated with the shrines, particularly those who look to the jinja honcho for guidance.
Jisha- “temple-shrine”. Traditional religious centers which evolved out of the relationship between one or more shrines and Buddhist temples, usually implying the identification of each kami with a Buddha or Bodhisattva (bosatsu) and the integration of beliefs and ritual practices. The constituent elements of the jisha were “separated” in the shinbutsu bunri of 1868 prior to the emergence of late 19th century shinto.
Jogan gishiki- a work dating from the end of the 9th century which, along with the 10th century Engi-shiki codified the rituals of the imperial family and its attendant clans.
Kakuriyo- the hidden world. In contemporary shinto theology a term used for the invisible world of kami and spirits, in contrast to the manifest or human world utsushiyo. It may also be interpreted as the world after death.
Kami-kami. A term best left untranslated. In Japanese it usually qualifies a name or object rather than standing alone, indicating that the object or entity has kami-qualify. Kami may refer- to the divine, sacred, spiritual and numinous qualities or energy of places and things, deities of imperial and local mythology, spirits of nature and place, divinised heroes, ancestors, rulers and statesmen. Virtually any object, place or creature may embody or possess the quality or characteristic of kami, but it may be helpful to think of kami as first and foremost a quality of a physical place, usually a shrine, or in pre-Meiji times either a shrine or a Buddhist temple and often both together. Either the place itself is kami or a particular named mythological kami (perhaps in the form of its “divided spirit” bunrei) is enshrined in such-and-such a place. Hence shrines tend to be named after the place-Iwashimizu Hachiman, kanda jinja, Ise (not Amaterasu) Jinja, etc. though there are modern exceptions such as the Meiji jingu. Numerous interesting etymologies have been suggested for the term kami, but its meaning lies in its use within the different periods and dimensions of Japanese religion. Although shinto purists like to reserve the term kami for shinto (rather than Buddhist) use, most ordinary Japanese make no clear conceptual distinction between kami and Buddhist divinities, though practices surrounding kami and Buddhist may vary according to custom. This accommodating attitude is a legendary of the thorough integration of the notion of kami into the Buddhist world-view which predominated in Japanese religion before the reforms of the Meiji period and has been to some extent revived since 1945, often through the new religions. This is despite the “separation of kami and Buddhas” (shinbutsu bunri) of 1868, when deities enshrined both as Buddhist divinities and as kami of a certain location had to re-labeled as either Buddha/bosatsu or kami. In understanding Japanese religion, to think of kami as constituting a separate category of “shinto” divine beings leads only to confusion. The “shin” of “shinto” is written with the same Chinese character as kami.
Kamidana- kami-self or altar. A miniature shinto shrine often with scaled-down torii and shimen awa found in the home and in business premises. The practice of keeping a kamidana increased substantially during the Meiji period. A common type of kamidana consists of little shrines side by side in which are enshrined the deity of the local shrine (chinju no kami) and very often as well a tutelary or ancestral deity particular to the occupants or their profession. Since the Meiji period it has been customary for kamidana also to incorporate amulets from Ise (taima) or an o-fuda. Daily offerings (shinsen) of rice, salt and water are made. With special offerings of sake and other foods on special days. O-fuda are renewed at New Year and the shrine may receive an annual visit from the priest of the local shrine whose bunrei the kamidana enshrines kamidana in work premises such as resturants and traditional industries may be dedicated to prosperity deities such as Ebisu or Daikokuten. Kamidana are also found at railway stations, police stations, and on board ships, in the latter case the kami enshrined is likely to be a kaijin such as kompira.
Kami-gakari- descent of the kami. Sudden or gradual possession by a kami, who is revealed and speaks through the possessed person. Several “new” religions include Tenrikyo, omoto-kyo and konkokyo were founded by shamanic men or women as a result of kami-gakari.
Kami-kaze- “divine wind”. Typhoons, which in the 13th century providentially foiled attempts by the Mongols under Khubilai Khan to invade Japan. The name was later applied to suicide pilots trained to dive with planes full of explosives into enemy ships late in the second world war.
Kami-mukae- welcoming or summoning the kami. The first element in the structure of a typical festival. Specifically it means the summoning of a kami to a himorogi, that is, to a place which is not the usual “seat” of the kami. In some cases the call (keihitsu) accompanies the recitation of norito and is a sonorous long “o” sound.
Kami-okuri-the ceremony of “sending away” on completion of a matsuri to which the kami has been summoned. A high-ranking priest intones norito and keihutsu sounds.
Kanmuri- a formal cap with long narrow strip attached, part of the ikan or saifuku costume worn by shinto priests for ceremonies.
Kannagara no michi- “the way (michi) according to the kami (kannagara)” is an alternative rendering of “shinto” used in the prewar period with the meaning of orthodoxy. Like kodo it is sometimes used to make a distinction between shinto as variegated popular beliefs (minkan shinto) and “orthodox” shinto, i.e. that directed principally towards the emperor.
Kannushi- often kannushi-san. Priest. Literally “proprietor (nushi) of kami”. According to context it may mean the guardian of a shrine, the head priest (-guji), one who through abstinence can act as a medium for the kami, or a general term for priest equivalent to shinshoku. Grades below kannushi as head priest are gon-kannushi (assistant head priest) and shin-gon-kannushi (junior assistant head priest).
Kansha- “government shrines.” A category of shrines identified as important by the Meiji government in 1871/2. Kansha were differential from shosha, general or miscellaneous shrines. In 1945 there were 209 kansha shrines and 109,824 shosha, of which over 105,000 were small “village” or “unranked” shrines. The kansha/shosha distinction was abolished in 1945 when shinto was disestablished.
Kariginu- a decorative priestly robe, modeled on a Heian style hunting garment. The colors may vary according to the rank of the wearer and the season of the year.
Kasiwade-to clap one’s hands (before a kami). The common form of shinto worship (hairei) involves bowing and hand-clapping. It often means two claps, but varies according to the custom of a shrine.
Kasuga-zukuri- the shrine architectural style (-zukuri) of the honden of the kasuga taisha. It dates from the early 8th century and incorporates Chinese-style roofs, decoration of red, gold and vermilion and lightly curved chigi.
Katsuogi- short decorative log-shaped beams sit at intervals across the ridge of a shrine roof. Following the Meiji restoration their use was restricted to the honden only, of new shrines.
Kegare-depending on context kegare may mean dirt, pollution of a physical or spiritual kind, danger, impurity, sluggishness, spiritual blockage or simply the ordinary state, as contrast with the purified state of harae. It may also be said that kegare is only a temporary or extraordinary state, from which one may be rescued by harae. It is usual to undergo some form of purification (such as hand and mouth rinsing) before approaching a kami. For special occasions such as major festivals or rituals priests and other participants may undergo extensive periods of seclusion, abstinence and separation from such things as childbirth, death, menstruation, blood, sex, and illness in order to reduce kegare. The period of mourning is particularly disabling. These impurities affect both the individual and those with whom he or she is connected, and until modern times such taboos severally restricted the participation of women in religious rites, preventing their access to sacred sites including mountains and some matsuri and shrines. Such restrictions were relaxed by legislation early in the Meiji period and are less today but still have some effect occupations involving blood (e.g. leather working) attracted low or even outcaste social status. Philosophical concepts of kegare often reflect Buddhist or Confucian ideas of mental or spiritual imperfection rather than ritual pollution.
Keidaichi-the precincts of a shrine. Generally the outer parts farthest from the seat of the kami are least sacred. The worshiper passes through various boundaries within the keidaichi, under one or more torii, past a fence (tama-gaki) through a gate (shin-mon), over a bridge (hashi) etc. to reach the center.
Kenpeishi-a “messenger with offerings”. Formerly this referred to visits by the emperor or local governs to select shrines (kenpeisha). In the postwar period the jinja honcho sends a kenpeishi with offerings, usually heikaku, to all of its shrines at their annual festivals. The Ise jingu and shrines eligible for a chokushi are visited by the president of the jinja honcho, others by the head of the prefecture jinja cho.
Kenzoku-a Buddhist term (translating Sanskrit Parivara, Parshad) meaning one’s dependents, household or retinue. It refers to kami who are subordinate to the main kami. They may be worshiped separately as mi-ko-gami (“offspring-kami”) in a waka-miya of the major shrine or enshrined elsewhere as village kami.
Ketsuen-shin-a blood relation kami. A kami which is worshiped by a group linked by “blood”, which in practice, because of marriage and regular adoption of sons or daughters into the household means a group which regards itself as one kinship group. It resembles the early Japanese ujigami belief.
Kibuku- (also reversed: bukki). Mourning. The term bukku (mourning clothes) carries the same meaning. Mourning here means the period of ritual impurity following a contact with death, rather than a feeling of sadness or loss. It is one of the main sources of kegare and is correspondingly surrounded by taboos (imi) on travel and participation in shinto ritual. Historically most practical matters concerning death, burial and memorialization were dealt with by Buddhism. Shinto since the Meiji period has not shown any prosperity to take over this aspect of Buddhism, apart from the enshrinement of souls of the war dead. A shinto version of the funeral service (sosai) is available, but it takes place away from the shrines, so death is directly relevant to shinto ritual mainly because of the pollution of mourning.
Kigan-a prayer or supplication. It refers to personal prayers (not necessarily for personal benefit-they may be for the community, nation, etc.) rather than to ritual forms such as norito. Prayers or petitions for specific benefits are called kito or gan-gake. On ema the prayers or wish is written under the heading of o-negai (wish or request).
Kinen-expressions of gratitude for mi-megumi or mitama-no-fuyu, blessings from the kami.
Kinukasa-a parasol, used to shade and show respect for a priest. It is of Buddhist origin.
Kitano tenjin engi-a medieval scroll telling the classic onryo (angry ghosts) story of the return to sugawara, Michizane (tenjin) to wreak ghostly vengeance on the imperial family. He first appears as a young courtier and asks the tendai abbot son-e not to interfere with his revenge, but son-e refuses. As Michizane spits out a pomegranate seed which bursts into flames son-e preforms a water-sprinkling mundra (ritual gesture) and douses the fire. Subsequently the ghost appears as a dark red thunder-deity with horns, and fills the palace with black billowing smoke.
Kito-prayers, a type of kigan requested by a shrine devotee and offered by a priest on his or her behalf.
Kodo-“the Imperial way”. Shinto as advocated by post-Meiji nationalists. It is sometimes used rhetorically to distinguish shinto from folk-religious beliefs or “popular shinto”.
Kokka- in modern usage “nation” or “nation state”. In the Tokugawa period before the advent of nationalism it was used like kuni for the feudal domain of a daimyo, while the Confucian term tenka (“under heaven”) was used for the whole country.
Kokka Shinto-a Japanese term used to translate the English “state shinto”. Unlike for example shuha shinto which was an administrative term used by the Japanese authorities to define and control certain Japanese religious groups, kokka shinto was a concept defined retrospectively and applied by the occupation authorities in the Shinto Directive of 1945 to the post-Meiji religious system in Japan. In the directive, state shinto is defined as “that branch of shinto (kokka shinto or jinja shinto) which by official acts of the Japanese Government has been differentiated from the religion of sect shinto (shuha shinto) and has been classified a non-religious cult commonly known as state shinto, national shinto, or shrine shinto. It is clear that there was no single term equivalent to “state shinto” at the time of the directive. The “state shinto” against which the directive was aimed consisted in government sponsorship and enforcement of shinto-type ritual in shrines, schools and elsewhere and the accompanying nation-building ideology within all the organs of the state such as government, education and the military which it was designed to underpin. This ideology emphasized loyalty and worshipful devotion to the emperor as the descendant of Amaterasu and asserted that shinto was not a religion (shukyo) but the pre-eminent duty of every subject of the emperor. Although the term “state shinto” suggests that the pre-war emperor system was largely province of shinto, its ideology and values were in fact embraced more or less willingly by all Japanese religious groups well before 1945 and the emperor system should not be identified simplistically and “shintoist”. The occupation policy was to remove the apparatus of what is called state shinto in order to introduce genuine freedom of religion and the separation of religion and the state following the United States model. Shinto leaders were given some opportunity to determine the future arrangements for the administration of shinto shrines after government control was withdrawn, the result was the establishment of the jinja honcho to administer jinja shinto. Jinja shinto was one of the terms equated with “state shinto” in the Shinto Directive. In short, the term kokka shinto should be applied with caution, it does not adequately capture the Meiji-1945 religious situation (not does it distinguish between its different phases) and it diverts attention from the fact that the overwhelming majority of Buddhists, Christians and members of new religions were educated into and therefore participated in and enthusiastically endorsed the prewar “emperor system.”
Kokuheisha- “shrine receiving offerings from the local government.” The second rank of formally recognized shrines (after kamperisha) in the Engi-shiki. Revived as a post-Meiji shrine rank.
Koma-inu- “Korean dogs.” Two statues of lion-like dogs, one with mouth open, the other with mouth shut, who guard or decorate the entrance to a shrine. Because of their appearance they are also known as shishi-koma-inu (lion koma-inu).
Kotodama- the spirit of a word, or the spirits residing in words. It is thought that the otomo and okume uji (clans) served the early Yamato court in the capacity of experts in dealing with the kotodama and spirits of songs. The idea that certain words correctly pronounced (in Buddhism, shin-gon) embody spiritual power is a notion common to several religious traditions in Japan. It extends in shinto norito to the avoidance of words (imi-kotoba) which might exert a bad influence. The notion of kotodama has in the 20th century been elevated to a pseudo-science by some popular writers who view the entire Japanese language as uniquely endowed with spiritual power.
Kugatachi or kugatachi-shiki-hot-water ordeal. An ascetic practice of heat-pacification used in some shinto sects which consists in the priest dipping bamboo fronds into boiling water and sprinkling it repeatly over the practitioner.
Kujo-a rank of priest below a gon-negi (assistant senior priest). This rank is found where priests are numerous.
Kuni-province. Formerly used for a feudal or clan domain. Now nation (i.e. Japan).
Kuni no miya-tsuko- the chief families of regional clans in ancient Japan, who retained local power under Yamato rule but gradually came to hold ritual rather than political significance. Some hereditary priestly families such as the Aso of Aso jinja and the senge and kitajima of Izumo taisha today claim descent from kuni no miya-tsuko.
Kuroki-“Dark (kuro) sake”. “Ki” is the old name for sake (rice wine), and sake is known on ritual occasions as (o) mi-ki. Shiroki and kuroki (light and dark sake) are special kinds of sake offered as shinsen at the niinamesai (autumn festival), including those occasions when the niinamesai is a daijosai or accession ceremony for the new emperor. Dark and light sake, have also traditionally been interpreted as refined and unrefined sake, however instructions for making these offerings are found in the Engi-shiki, where light sake is natural sake and dark sake is made by mixing ashes of kusagi (a kind of arrow root).
Kyoha shinto-“sect shinto”. An administrative category applied to certain religious groups. It emerged as a result of Meiji government legislation in 1876 designed to give all kinds of independent religious movements, some of which focused on a particular kami, a legal status. The “sects” had names ending in -kyo (literally teaching) and were so called to differentiate them from the institutions of the state-sponsored “national teaching” (kokkyo, taikyo) which evolved into the “non-religious” form of shrine shinto. The numbers constant, among the sects with shinto affiliations some like jinjukyo did not persist as sects and all the groups eventually incorporated key teachings of the emperor system. In 1921 the kyoha shinto rengokai, the official association of shinto sects has 13 groups, into which were forcibly incorporated many smaller groups which regrouped after 1945. The 13 sects included pre-Meiji period such as Tenrikyo, Kurozumi-kyo and Konko-kyo together with sects which had begun as shrine-supporting networks formed by shrine administrators. Omoto-kyo which is sometimes listed as one of the 13 came under the auspices of Fuso-kyo. The list also included Izumo oyashiro-kyo, Jikko-kyo, Misogi-kyo, Shinshu-kyo, Shinto shuseiha and Shinri-kyo. Numerous other sects in modern Japan classified as “sect shinto” developed from or were classified under the 13 recognized prewar sects and there are around 50 “new sect shinto” organizations which began after 1945. In 1970 Tenri-kyo repudiated its shinto identity. Kyoha shinto is also referred to as shuha shinto.
Majinai-broadly “magic”, a collective term for means such as talismans, mantras and rites by which people try to manipulate events and influence spirits, either to bring good luck or to ward off harm (sawari), curses (tatari) disease or other calamity.
Makoto- sincerity, having a true heart, wholeheartedness, conscientiousness, loyalty. Makoto is a cardinal virtue in many Japanese religions including shinto. Its meaning varies according to context.
Massha- “branch shrine”. Like sessha, a minor shrine which is a “branch” of another shrine within a host shrine’s precincts.
Matsuri-as a shinto term, best left untranslated. It may according to context be rendered “festival”, “worship”, “celebration”, “rite”, or even “prayer.” The “Chinese” pronouncation of matsuri is sai, so for example kasuga-matsuri is also kasuga-sai. The verb matsuru means in this context to deify or enshrine, to worship or revere someone or something as a kami. The ancient term matsuri-goto (“matsuri-affairs”) combined the meanings of “government” and “ritual celebration”, a concept revived in the Meiji notion of saisei-itchi. The most commonly understood meaning of matsuri today is “communal celebration.” Not all matsuri are connected with shinto or even religion, matsuri may refer to sporting, civic or commercial festivities, and the postwar constitutional separation of religion and state means that overt civic sponsorship of matsuri has to be directed to “non-religious” festivals, pageants and parades oriented to the promotion of tourism and trade. Shinto and folk-religious, matsuri predominate however and are celebrated all over Japan in a huge variety of ways. Most still are, or obviously derive from, annual calendrical celebrations which mark the seasons of the agricultural year with rituals for divination, planting, crop protection, rain and harvest. In a shinto context matsuri is a communal occasion, normally connected with a shrine, in the course of which offerings are made and prayers, rites, entertainment and thanks directed towards the kami. The matsuri often includes a ritual procession (shinko) as well as shrine rituals. A matsuri of this kind generally includes purification, solemn liturgical elements including for example norito prayers and shinsen food offerings, and cheerful and sometimes boisterous community activities including processions with o-mikoshi generally carried by youths (for whom the practice offers a rite of manhood), contests of various kinds such as sumo, entertaining or mythological magic and dance including hayashi, kagura, etc. feasting and drinking sake. Devout participants see the occasion of matsuri as an opportunity to deepen and renew their relationship of reciporcal dependence with the kami, others see the matsuri as part of the customary fabric of daily and communal life (though some members of the community such as evangelical soka gakkai Buddhists and some Christians may refuse on principle to take part), and many simply come to enjoy the spectacle.
Meiji Constitution- the constitution of the Empire of Japan (Dai nihon teikoku kempo) promulgated in 1889 was the result of 17 years of secret drafts and debate over issues including religious freedom and the role of shinto in relation to the state. The constitution, based on a final draft by Ito Hirobumi and Inoue Kowashi, incorporated a distinction between private religious beliefs and public religious activity proposed by Herman Roester, a German legal advisor to the Japanese government. Article 1 proclaimed that “the empire of Japan shall be ruled by emperors of the dynasty, which has resigned in an unbroken like of descent for ages past”, while Article 3 stated that “the person of the emperor is sacred and inviolable”, Article 28 of the constitution made the provision that “Japanese subjects shall, within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief”. From the 1890's participation in civic shinto rituals was increasingly viewed as a non-religious civic duty. Consequently, freedom to withdraw from shinto rites was unconstitutional.
Meiji-the reign-period from 1868-1912 during which the Meiji emperor (Meiji tenno) was enthroned. It marked Japan’s transformation from the feudal society of the Tokugawa period to a modern industrial state. It was a new era of direct imperial rule, portrayed by its advocates as a “restoration” of ancient practice which started with the collapse of the last Tokugawa shogun’s government in 1867 and included brief civil wars. The first years of Meiji were marked by nationalist and anti-feudal sentiments roused against Buddhism which was officially characterized as a “foreign” religion and disestablished. The charter oath of April 1868 promulgated by the young emperor Meiji, whose court was moved to Tokyo, set out a broad modernizing framework of government which was gradually elaborated through constitutional reforms and imperial rescripts through the Meiji government remained essentially an oligarchy. The primary aim of the enterprising Meiji regime was to transform Japan as rapidly as possible into a rich and strong country, indeed empire, in conformity with the Western model of the industrialized nation-state. To this end, while elements of Tokugawa Confucian thought such as loyalty and filial piety were re-emphasized for the ordinary people, and many useful aspects of the Tokugawa administrative structure were preserved, archaic elements of the ritsuryo system such as the idea of saisei itchi and (briefly( the jingikan were revived at least in name to enhance the sacred and inviolable status of the emperor and provide an ultimate focus for national loyalty. From 1868 onwards a centralized imperial religious cult focusing on the divinity of the emperor was gradually developed which incorporated shrines as well as schools and other civil and military organs of the state. This came to be identified as “shinto” and was from the 1890's declared “non-religious” (i.e. supra-religious) to differentiate Japan’s supposedly indigenous sacred heritage from “foreign” faiths such as Buddhism and Christianity. It should be noted that the term “Meiji” is often used in a very broad sense to refer to the whole Meiji, Taisho and part-Showa reign- periods from 1868 right up to 1945 when the system of government next underwent radical change. Shinto-related events and personalities in the Meiji period are too numerous to list here and can be found throughout the dictionary. Most of the salient features of modern shinto were established as a result of government legislation in the Meiji period.
Mi-itsu- (pronounced mi-izu) also shin’i. The “prestige” or “lofty” authority or “virtue” belonging to a kami. It may be absorbed by the worshiper by, for example, eating the naorai food previously offered to the kami.
Mikado-a traditional name for “Emperor”. The etymology could be “August gate” or “Great Place”. In the Meiji period it was replaced by Chinese-derived terms such as Tenshi (son of heaven). Tenno or ten’o (Heavenly emperor) and Shujo “Supreme Master.”
Miki- (or o-miki) the special name for sake (rice wine) when prepared in various special ways, at some shrines in a special sakadono or sake-hall, and offered to the kami. It is drunk by the participants at the close of a ceremony as part of the naorai “feast” to receive the mi-itsu of the kami.
Mizugaki- “auspicious fence.” The inmost of four fences surrounding the shrine.
Mono-object, entity. Used anciently to refer to spirits of animals and other lower entities.
Mononobe- a noble clan, originally of warriors, associated with the Yamato imperial family. It is recorded that like the Nakatomi they were resistant to the introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century. Mononobe means “Corporation of Arms”. A Mononobe of the 9th century is believed to have written the Sendai kuji hongi.
Muneage-“raising the ride pole” (of a roof, which completes the framework of a new house). The term equally refers to the accompanying ritual, performed by the carpenters and the owners of the house. Small monetary gifts may be given to the carpenters on this occasion. A gohei inscribed with the owner’s name and the date, with an o-fuda from an appropriate shrine attached to the bottom and an o-ta fuku at the top, is placed behind the rafters for protection. Offerings and symbols of purification including items such as fruit, rice and salt are made, and those present clap their hands twice and bow in the manner of devotees at a shrine. Sand from the precincts of a shrine is scattered on the ground and sake poured in the unlucky north-east (kimon: demon-gate) corner of the house. The ceremony is also known as jotosai. It is performed in addition to the jichinsai or ground-purification ceremony carried out at the start of construction which is more likely to involve a shinto priest.
Mushi-kuyo-or mushi-okuri. Insect rises, insect-repelling. Agricultural rites for driving away insects from the ripening harvest.
Nagare-zukuri- the “flowing roof” style of a shrine building (-zukuri) exemplified by the kamo jinja in Kyoto. A large modern example is the 1921 Meiji jingu.
Naorai- during (normally towards the end of) a shinto matsuri, the feast of rice wine and food which has been offered to the kami (shinsen) and is not distributed to the spiritual benefit of worshipers and priests. The naorai may also consist of ordinary food brought for the occasion.
Nara period- (710-794) a period during which the imperial capital was at Nara. This period, dominated by Buddhist and Chinese thought, saw the compilation of the Kojiki and Nihongi which focused the mythological ancestry of the leading clan of Japan, and the establishment of important shrine-temple complexes such as Kasuga, ancestral and tutelary shrine of the Fujiwara family.
Negai-usually o-negai. A prayer of worshipful request addressed to the kami or Buddhas, for example inscribed on an ema. In ordinary speech “o-negai shimasu” means “would you please...?”
Nenchu gyoji-or nenju gyoji “events through the year.” The annual cycle of (religious) observances. Japanese religion at every level is profoundly calendrical, normally structured around an annual cycle of festivals and special days referring to as nenchu gyoji. Details vary from region to region and among different religious institutions. Shinto shrines, like Buddhist temples and new religious movements virtually define themselves by their particular nenchu gyoji which contain, as well as nationally-celebrated festivals such as niinamesai, shichi-g-san, etc., the special festivals or rites of the shrine celebrating its founding or other significant events in its history. The nenchu gyoji may include events dated according to the lunar or solar calendar. The traditional lunar calendar, which required an extra month to be inserted every three years was replaced by the Western-style (solar) calendar in 1872. Many festivals are still scheduled by the lunar calendar. Three main methods are used to determine the festival’s date in the solar calendar. These are (1) one month is added to the lunar date (e.g. the 15th day of the 7th lunar month (“15th July”) becomes the 15th day of the 8th solar month (15th August). (2) The festival is held on the same date in the solar calendar as was scheduled in the lunar calendar (15th day of 7th month becomes 15th July). (3) The festival remains fixed by the lunar calendar and therefore moves around the solar calendar like the Muslim Ramadan and to some extent the Christian Easter. In Tokugawa religion the annual ritual calendar combined Buddhist, community and shrine rites, organized broadly around the gosekku (five seasonal divisions) plus New Year (shogatsu) and bon festivals. In the 1870's following the Meiji restoration a new annual calendar of rites was introduced. It emphasized rites for previous emperors in the “unbroken lineage” and for the first time synchronized the nenchu gyoji of shrines throughout the country with the annual ritual cycle of the imperial household (koshitsu saishi), giving a central role to the emperor as priest of the nation. The new ritual calendar gradually superseded the old, especially after the Russo-Japanese war (1904-6) when the annual rites were introduced into schools and promoted by local authorities.
Nihongi-also known as nihon shoki “chronicles of Japan.” A Nara period document similar to the Kojiki and completed in 720. It contained the myths and legendary history of the imperial Yamato clan which legitimized the imperial rule. It later became a major focus of philological studies by the koku gaku scholars and came to prominence in the 18th-19th centuries as a result of these studies and the development of the “restoration shinto” movement of Hirata, Atsutane which prefigured the Meiji restoration. Much of the legendary history of Japan from the age of the gods, which featured prominently in prewar “state shinto” (kokka shinto) education textbooks (though not the ethic of loyalty and filial piety, which was originally Confucian) was derived from the Nihongi and Kojiki.
Kogo-shui-“gleaning of ancient words.” A book of commentary on “ancient” words and practices complied by Imbe, Hironari and presented to the Emperor Heizai in 807. It was written to substantiate at court the status of the Imbe against the claims of the rival Nakatomi clan, and includes passages, which supplement the mythological and historical accounts in the Kojiki and Nihongi completed a hundred years earlier.
Kojiki-“records of ancient matters.” The oldest extant work of imperial mythology, written by a court noble called Yasumaro in 712. It incorporates some much older oral material including a number of songs. Rediscovered through the philological researchers of Kamo no Mabuchi and especially Motoori, Norinaga, it came to be regarded as a shinto scripture by the Kokugaku school. The work is said to have been initiated by Emperor Temmu who is 673 had usurped the throne and was concerned to “correct” existing clan histories. Temmu recited the material to Hiyeda no Are, a member of his household endowed with a remarkable memory. No details are known about Are, who may have been male or female. For 25 years after the emperor’s death are preserved the text before transmitting it on the orders of Empress Gemmio to Yasumaro, who rendered the oral tradition into written form in 712. For the main text Yasumaro used Chinese characters but in a way which preserved a far less Chinese-influenced, more “Japanese” style of narrative than the near-contemporary Nihongi, hence the Kokugaku preference for this text. Like the Nohongi, the Kojiki contains myths and semi-historical material about the imperial clan. It covers events from the birth of the primordial kami in the plain of high heaven (takama-ga-hara) down to the historical reign of the empress suiko (r. 593-623) and was intended to legitimize the lineage of Temmu.
Nijuni-sha-the 22 shrines. An elite grouping of shrines (16 to begin with) in the Kyoto-Ise-Nara area which from the mid-Heian period acquired a high and separate status, differentiated from shrines elsewhere in the country. They were grouped into 3 divisions, the “upper 7" shrines (Ise, Iwasimizu, both Kamo shrines, Matsuno, Hirano, Inari and Kasuga), the “middle 7" shrines (Oharano, Omiwa, Iso no kami, Oyamato, Hirose, Tatsuta, Sumiyoshi) and the “8 lower” shrines (Hie, Umeonmiya, Yoshida, Hirota, Gion, Kitano, Nikawa kami and Kifune).
Norito-ritual prayers. Early examples of norito were collected in the 10th century Engi-shiki. Norito may be ancient standard prayers or newly created for certain ritual occasions. They are dignified ritual utterances addressed to the kami during shinto ceremonies. They are both an offering and a description of the attitudes and achievements of the community and the features of the locality. Through norito the kami are both honored and requested to exert their influence on behalf of the worshipers.
O-fuda-like o-mamori these may act both as amulets to ward off misfortune and as talismans to bring benefits and good luck. O-fuda are obtained equally from Buddhist temples and shinto shrines. They come in various sizes and typically comprise a flat and slightly tapering piece of wood (sometimes paper) on which is inscribed or stamped in black and red ink the name of the shrine/temple and the kami enshrined with o-fuda is wrapped in white paper and tied with colored thread. O-fuda reflect the riyaku and shintoku of the shrine or temple.
Ogamiya-san-spiritual healers of various kinds whose methods rely in belief in kami and Buddhas.
O-kiyome-cleansing, purification, exorcism. A shinto concept used in several new religions where it refers to spiritual healing of illness as well as purification of a more abstract kind.
Oku-mai-“abundant rice.” A name for raw rice, used universally in shinto rites. Rice was traditionally a food only for the wealthy so rice offered to the kami represented the best the community could provide. Oku-mai also refers to the description of Japan in the myths as mizuno no kami “land of abundant rice.”
Okumiya-the “interior” or less accessible shrine in shrines where there are two buildings, for example one at the foot and the other at the summit of a mountain. It contrasts with hongu/honsha. Another name is yamamiya “mountain shrine.”
O-mamori-amulets, charms. The practice of obtaining amulets from shrines and Buddhist temples is almost universal in Japan. O-mamori are traditionally small brightly colored brocade bags with drawstrings, usually with an inscription giving the name of the shrine and perhaps the benefit (riyaku) for which the amulet has been obtained. Recently, innovative o-mamori including those shaped like (or doubled as) decorative telephone cards have been introduced. O-mamori are acquired by children, by people who are sick, at New Year, for passing an examination, for traffic safety (kotsu anzen) and at the time of a pilgrimage or occasional shrine visit. Mamori means “protection” so strictly speaking the function of an amulet is to protect against bad influences, disaster, etc. While a talisman (o-fuda) is supposed to attract or channel good fortune, but good fortune is the absence of bad so there is considerable overlap in the function of o-mamori and o-fuda.
O-mikuji-a popular form of divination widely available at shrines. The basic idea is to write down possible courses of action on slips of paper (o-mikuji), place them before the kami and then draw one in order to receive advice. In practice o-mikuji are usually pre-printed slips which give advice, predictions, caution and encouragement to moral virtue. They are kept in a chest of small numbered drawers in a kiosk with the shrine precincts. The shrine visits make the specified small duration, then shakes out a stick from a box. Each stick is numbered. The printed slip is then collected from the drawer with the same number. O-mikuji slips containing bad predictions are usually hung from a tree or frame set up for the purpose to “discard” the prediction (sute-mikuji) and avoid the bad luck.
Oni-demons, representing bad luck or evil influences. Evil can either be transformed into good by Buddhist and Shinto rites or expelled, so demons have an ambivalent character. The festival of setsubun, which marks the change of season from winter to spring according to the lunar calendar is celebrated in both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines with visible or invisible visits from demons. In a ceremony of expelling evil, the participants cry “fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto” (good luck in, demons out). Various methods are used to overcome the oni. These range from ritual confrontations with oni, often played by actors dressed in fearful costumes who try to enter the home or shrine, to magical and symbolic acts of purification or exorcism which include shooting at the oni with arrows and then scattering beans representing good luck for the coming year. There are some festivals with processions of people wearing fearsome oni masks, such as the oni gyoretsu of the Veno Tenjin matsuri in Tokyo and the Chayamachi oni matsuri at the kompira-gu kurashiki,okayama held in the 3rd weekend of October. Drummers at the Nafune taisai of Hakusan jinja, Ishikawa wear a variety of oni masks.
Onmyo-do-or on’yodo. The way of yin and yang. An important Chinese element in the ritsuryo system which gave rise to numerous official and popular practices from the Heian period onwards. It incorporated divination, geomancy, exorcism and complex calendrical and directional sciences and was integrated with imperial Buddhist ceremonies and rituals for the native kami.
Onmyo-ryo-or on-yo-ryo. The Bureau of yin and yang established in the ritsuryo system to observe, record and divine the movements of the heavens as well as other elements of onmyodo. The imperial court employed onmyo-shi or on’yoshi, “masters of yin and yang”. Taoist ritual specialists, from the ritsuryo period up to the Meiji restoration.
Onryo-angry spirits. An official and popular belief in angry spirits developed early in Japan. Their most common form is as mu-en-botoke “unconnected hotoke” (ancestors), those who have died but had or have no one to perform the Buddhist rites to enable them to leave the world. A belief in the power of angry spirits, the need to pacify them with appropriate rituals and the responsibility for filial piety and reverence that this lays upon the descendants is a favorite theme of Japanese religions, including many of the new religious movements. One way of pacifying angry spirits, exemplified in the case of Tenjin, is to promote them by enshrinement as kami.
O-shio-I-“the well of brine.” It refers to a box of purifying sand (shio refers to its saltiness) taken from the wet part of the beach early on the mourning of a festival day. In some matsuri processions the sand is sprinkled on the road, particularly at corners and crossings.
O-zoni-a special soup cooked to accompany mochi (rice-cakes) and eaten especially at New Years festivals.
Monchi-a glutinous cake made of pounded rice, generally unsweetened in a Shinto context. It is a popular type of food at festivals, especially New Year. Like dango, mochi may be eaten for protection form illness.
Dango-rice-flour dumplings cooked by the New Year bonfire. Like mochi they are popularly believed to give protection from illness.
Ritsuryo-a system of government based on governmental codes, both prohibitive (ritsu) and administrative/civil (ryo), first developed in the time of Shotoku Taishi (regent from 593-622) by scholars and monks who has been sent to study in Sui China, and from which the Imperial family first derived its ritual calendar. The codes were set down in the Taiho Ritsuryo of 701 and revised in the Yoro Ritsuryo a few years later. Shotoku Taishi’s seventeen-article constitution of 604 and the Taik (“great change”) reforms from 646 exemplify the ritsuryo-type approach heavily influenced by Buddhism, Conficianism and yin-yang (onmyo) thought. The earliest ritsuryo document was the omiryo of 662, the extant written sources date from the early 8th century. The “Jingiryo” laws covered the deities, and regulations for imperial ceremonies and annual festivals. The ritsuryo system established the emperor as a sacred being, a manifest kami with priestly as well as governmental responsibilities for the community, raising the status of the hereditary monarch over the people to that of a divinely-proclaiming tenno (a Taoist term for the highest heavenly deity) in place of the earlier ten’o (heavenly king). The system affirmed the mutual dependency of imperial law (obo) and the Buddha’s law (buppo), and the compatibility of Buddhist divinities and kami. The ritsuryo system was not formally replaced until 1885, although Japan was actually ruled from the 9th century onwards not by emperors but by the Fujiwara regents and then by the Kamakura and Ashikaga shoguns or their deputies. The broad principles of the ritsuryo system functioned more or less effectively until the end of the Heian period, which marks the end of what is usually terms “ritsuryo-type government”. After the disunity of the “warring states” period, in the late 15th century the ritsuryo ideology was in practice replaced by the honken system of government in the Tokugawa period. Some of the reforms of the Meiji period claimed to emulate aspects of the ritsuryo system, though without its Buddhist basis.
Riyaku-benefits, commonly referred to honorifically as go-riyaku. “Genze riyaku” specifies “this-worldly benefits” (as against e.g salvation after death). Go-riyaku may include spiritual power and protection gained from kami or Buddhas by religions practices such as prayer, or may mean the specific beneficial functions performed by a particular kami.
Genze-riyaku-or just riyaku. Benefits in this world, as opposed to rewards in the hereafter. Many kami or shrines are credited with the power to grant particular riyaku. Indeed, kami can be seen as specialists in riyaku.
Ryugu-the dragon-palace, the other world.
Saifuku-formal costume for the conduct of ceremonies by a Shinto priest. The garments are made from white silk and cut in the same way as the ikan. The priest generally carries a shaku and wears kanmuri, headgear.
Saikai-abstinence, purification undertaken by a participant in a Shinto ritual. The two levels of abstinence are ara-imi “rough (i.e. less comprehensive) abstinence” and ma-imi “true abstinence”.
Saikan-the shrine hall or building where priests undertake forms of saikai (abstinence, purification) before participating in Shinto rituals.
Saikigu-ritual furniture and utensils used in shrine ceremonies such as hassokuan, sanbo and takatsuki.
Saimotsu-offerings made on a visit to a shrine. For the ordinary shrine visitor the offering might be a few coins (saisen) thrown into the offertory box (saisen-bako). On other occasions the offerings may be of cloth (including heihaku). Another meaning of saimotsu is the ritual robes of raw silk worn by the new emperor during the Daijo-sai.
Saisei itchi-unity of rites and government. A principle adopted at the time of the Taika reforms in 645 within the ritsuryo system to emphasize the sacral character of imperial rule. It expressed the idea that government (sei) should not be separate from religion in the sense of sacred state ritual (sai). The slogan was resurrected in the Meiji period to underpin modernizing reforms.
Saisen-coins offered to the kami. They are usually thrown into the offertory box (saisen-bako) which may be located at the shrine or, in a portable version, taken on the shinko-shiki. At the toka (10th day of the New Year) ebisu of the Nishininomiya Ebisu shrine near Osaka, worshippers press coins into a large fresh tuna provided for the purpose.
Saishu-“chief of the matsuri”, also Itsuki-no-miya (princess dedicated to the kami). The highest priestly office now found only at the Ise Jingu and since 1945 held by a female member of the imperial family in partial imitation of early practices recorded in the Engi-shiki where an unmarried princess (saigu) served as mitsue-shiro or medium (for the kami). Throughout most of Japanese history, from the Heian to the Meiji periods the position at Ise was held by a male representative of the Jingikan and from 1868-1945 by a male member of the imperial family.
Saiten-a term used for matsuri, in the inclusive sense of both solemn rites (saigi) and communal celebrations.
Sakaki-sacred tree. The character for sakaki is made up of “tree” plus “kami”. It is used for a variety of purposes in Shinto ritual, e.g. for tamagushi. Sakaki generally means cleyera ochnacea or theacea (japonica). It is an evergreen bushy shrub with dark, narrow glossy leaves about 3 meters in height and depth. It bears small, fragrant saucer-shaped white flowers in early-mid summer and small black fruits sakaki may also refer to species of pine, cryptomeria (cedar) and oak. Sakaki is mentioned in the Nihongi as a tree set up and strung with jewels, a mirror and cloth offerings, or nusa, cut paper. At the Izushi jinja, Hyogo prefecture, “pure fire” is made by rubbing sakaki and hinoki wood together. Sometimes artificial sakaki leaves are used for decoration or a local more prolific evergreen such as shiba.
Sake-rice wine. It is universally used as a ritual offering to the shrine and then distributed among the participants. Carefully prepared forms of sake often with special names (e.g. kuroki) are offered to the kami in solemn rites and the consecrated offerings is then drunk by priests and participants. In addition larger containers of sake are often donated by local business, etc., as offerings and contributions to a matsuri. Offering of sake to the kami is usually followed by the consumption of liberal quantities of sake by participants during the more energetic and entertaining parts of a matsuri. The drinking of sake is always in practice an important element in festivals but in some cases sake-drinking is the official theme of the festival itself. An example is the shirakawa-mura doburoku matsuri, held on October 10-19 at the Shitakawa Hachiman-gu, Eifu. “Doburoku” is the local home-brew, drunk to celebrate the harvest along with displays of banners, an eight-legged lion dance (shishi-mai), kyogen performances and a parade of mikoshi. In the Niramekko obisha (staring-game contest) held at the Komagata jinja, Chiba on January 20th two sake drinkers drink while staring at each other, the first one to laugh is the loser. Several shrines are dedicated to the kami of sake-brewing, most important among them is the matsuno-o-taisha in Kyoto.
Sanbo-a special stand or support, square or octagonal and made of bare hinoki wood on which is placed the tray (oshiki) containing food offerings (shinsen) for the kami.
Sando- the “approach path” to a shrine. It is used for the path from the first torii to the center of the shrine but may be extended also to roads leading to the shrine. Technically the sando should not follow a straight line, perhaps because it was thought disrespectful or inauspicious to approach the kami directly, but in man shrines circumstances dictate that the sando is straight. The term gives rise to street names linked to shrines such as omote-sando, the “front approach”.
Sangu-or sanku. “scattered offerings”. Also known generically by one of its forms, sanmai “scattered rice”, and as uchimaki. A form of combined purification and offering, for local or family kami carried out, for example, in advance of construction of a building it consists in scattering small items such as rice, bits of cotton cloth, coins or sake on the ground, usually in the center and the four corners of the ritual site.
Saniwa-a sacred area or “garden” covered with white pebbles, used for certain rituals. In the Kojiki it meant a place where the interpreter of oracles stood.
Sankei-a general term for shrine visit. It may refer to regular or occasional visits to a local or regional shrine to worship, or as part of pilgrimage.
Sanshu no shinki-the three imperial regalia. Literally, the three divine receptacles. In the Nihongi they are referred to as the three treasures (mikusa-no-takara-mono). They are the mirror (yata no kagami) preserved at Ise jingo, the sword (ame-no-muraku-mono-tsurugi, kusanagi notsurugi) at Atsuta jingu, and the string of jewels (yasakani no magatama) kept at the imperial palace. Replicas of the first two are kept with the third in the Kashiko dokoro shrine of the imperial palace in Tokyo, since possession of the “three sacred treasures” is held to be evidence of the legitimacy of the emperor. The regalia are kept hidden. The mirror is enclosed in numerous boxes and wrappings, the sword is said to be about 33 inches long and enclosed in wood in a stone box. Nothing is publicly known about the shape or color of the jewels which are also kept concealed. The regalia are piously believed to have been handed down from Amaterasu to Ninigi then down through the generations of emperors. The divine transmission is not mentioned in the Kojiki or Nihongi, though the legendary emperors Chuai (192-200) and Keitai *507-31) are according to the Nihongi ceremonially presented with a mirror, sword, and jewels or in the case of Keitai an “imperial signet”. The sword was lost by Emperor Antoku in the defeat of the Taira clan in 1185, two years after the rival emperor Go-Toba had acceded to the throne without the regalia. Following these inauspicious events the successful Minamoto regime at Kamakura placed much greater emphasis on the proper transmission of the imperial regalia as necessary elements in the accession ceremony. There are various interpretations of the meaning of the regalia. At one level they can be seen as charms or protective amulets as well as symbols of legitimacy, but with the rise of Ise or Watarai Shinto allegorically meanings with a strong Buddhist-Confucian flavor were attributed to the three treasures, such as that the mirror signifies truthfulness, the sword wisdom or courage and the jewels benevolence.
Sashiha-a screen generally made of silk but occasionally of sakaki leaves which is carried round the mikoshi of a kami to preserve secrecy during the night ritual of sengu (transfer).
Mikoshi- (or shin-yo). “Kami-palanquin” or “honorable palanquin”. An ornate covered litter used to carry a kami, as if a distinguished personage, from one place to another. The usual English translation of “portable shrine” is not quite accurate for the journey is usually between the main shrine and one or more temporary shrines or resting-places (o-tabisho), or between one permanent shrine and another if the kami is visiting a neighboring kami. At the Sanno matsuri of the Hie taisha for example two male and female “rough spirits” (ara-mitama) are brought together in two mikoshi to be married. The mikoshi is analogous to an imperial palanquin, it is purely for travel and the journey is in some cases carried out in solemn secrecy and in darkness. Though a public processional journey may take the kami past the homes of parishioners and the kami hallows the places (ujiko-machi) it passes, worship takes place only at o-tabisho, special places where the kami comes to rest. Mikoshi vary in construction, there are, for example, four, six and eight-sided versions, and they come in many sizes, ranging from several tons to those designed to be drawn by children. They are housed at shrines between use in a building called the mikoshi-gura or shinyo-ko. One or more mikoshi are generally carried during matsuri by an energetic group of young adult men of about 18-30 years who should be ritually pure (harae). Mikoshi themselves may be purified, the mikoshi of the sumiyoshi taisha are dipped in seawater for this purpose. The men carrying the mikoshi represent the organized ujiko of the shrine and are accompanied by a procession of priests and other participants. At night they will escort the mikoshi with numerous lanterns (chochin). In some cases a horse follows the palanquin in case the kami wishes to ride part of the way. The origin of the mikoshi is unclear but there is a tradition that in the Nara period a purple colored renyo (palanquin) was used to welcome the deity Usa Hachiman to the capital for the celebration of the construction of the Daibutsu (Great Buddha). In Tokyo where the use of yatai (floats) was stopped in the late Meiji era because of problems with overhead cables, festivals focus much more on the mikoshi, which are carried by men and women, including recently some women-only teams of bearers (onna-mikoshi). Some mikoshi processions which had dried out in the Meiji period have been re-established on the post-war period with varying degrees of success to provide urban areas with a sense of communal identity.
Chochin-rounded or cylindrical lanterns made of bamboo and paper. Their use is not at all restricted to Shinto but they are found, often in their hundreds, decorating shrines and they feature in several well-known festivals. They may be seen primarily as a symbol of welcome to the kami/mikoshi are often welcomed or accompanied by lantern-bearers. Chochin are used mainly in the August-October period at the same time as other night time fire (hi-matsuri), torch and firework festivals associated with praying for rain (amogoi) and for the ripening of the rice harvest. In a gyoretsu festival parade inscribed lanterns may be carried to represent key donors or organizers of the festival. At the Isohiki-no-ochochin matsuri at the Suwa-jinja in Isohiki, Aichi (26-27th August), enormous chochin ten meters high and six meters across are displayed. At the Nihonmatsu-jinja, Fukushina, seven floats of lanterns carrying taiko drummers parade through the town in early October. The Akita Kanto matsuri (5-7th August) features “kanto”, ten-meter tall bamboo poles supporting nine cross-poles festooned with 46 lanterns. Each kanto represents a loaded ear of rice, and is carried balanced on the bearer’s shoulder or chest. At the Kasuga taisha on August 15th, 1000 chochin and 1800 stone lanterns are lit, illuminating the dancing accompanied by music. The lanterns floated down river to send away spirits at bon are mainly square toro, but may be chochin-shaped.
Sato-Kagura- “village kagura”. A collective term for various types of popular kagura performed at shrines and festivals throughout Japan. They derive to some extent from the classical forms but involve masked players who enact scenes from the Shinto myths and other sources. A narrator usually outlines the action.
Sato-miya-“village shrine”. Part of a two-shrine complex dedicated to the same mountain kami. One shrine, the sato-miya, is located conveniently or near a village. It is paired with another shrine of the same kami in an inaccessible place, such as high up the mountain. There are two interpretations of the function of a sato-miya. It may be seen as a yohai-jo (“worship for afar” shrine) of the second shrine, or it may be second home of a kami who travels from the mountain to the plain according to the agricultural cycle.
SCAP-supreme command allied powers. The name of the largely American postwar occupation administration (1945-51) changes were brought about by the occupying powers in the period in many areas of Japanese life. Legislation on religion profoundly altered the prewar status and character of Shinto. The Religions Division of the Civil Information and Education section of SCAP produced the Shinto Directive (Shinto shirei) which disestablished Shinto, reducing it to the same voluntaristic status as all other religions. In the new constitution of Japan produced under SCAP articles were induced guaranteeing religious freedom and a radical USA-style separation of religion and state. The emperor announced that it was not necessary to think of him as a divinity, war memorials and ultranationalist tracts were removed from schools and state support for religion (including shrines) became unconstitutional, so that shrines had to regroup on a voluntary basis if there was to be any network supporting them. On the other hand the emperor remained in place, as did the shrines, so that a considerable degree of continuity was preserved. Since many shrines had been destroyed by bombing, money was short and there was a general disillusionment about the power of the kami to protect Japan, the occupation period was a time of crisis for shrine priests, as it was for many Japanese people faced with the task of rebuilding their lives in new circumstances while Shinto has benefited from the Japanese “economic miracle” (for which the kami can be held at least in part responsible) and many shrines have been beautifully reconstructed, the people was by no means resolved under SCAP, and the question of how far Shinto can adapt in a “market-place” of religions (given e.g. its attitude to women) remains open.
Seikyo bunri-“separation of government (sei) and religion (kyo)”. A Meiji policy declaration of 1882 intended to clarify the position of religions in relation to government, in the context of debate about the nature of “religion” in modernizing Japan. It paved the way for the redefinition of Shinto as “not a religion” (hi-shukyo). It led to the recognition of religious “sects” of Shinto.
Seimei-“purity and brightness.” A synonym of akaki. In contemporary Shinto theology it means purity and cheerfulness of heart (a condition also described as akaki kiyoki kokoro) and refers to the spiritual or mental virtue corresponding to harae, purification.
Sendai kuji hongi-“record of events of bygone times.” Also known as kuji hongi, Kuiki. A historical record in ten sections covering events from the age of the gods, yin and yang etc., up to the time of Empress Suiko. It is not clear who compiled the work but it is through that it may have been written in the early Heian period (late 9th century) by a member of the Mononobe family. It includes material not found in these earlier works.
Sendatsu-a leader or guide, usually of ascetic practitioners or pilgrims. Originally a Buddhist term meaning a revered priest, it was applied particularly to leaders of groups of shugenja (practitioners of shugendo). Pilgrimages to shrine-temple complexes such as kumano and yoshino in the Heian period were organized and led by sendatsu, up to the Tokugawa period sendatsu were employed as “middlemen” by the oshi or priestly organizers of Kumano where as the oshi of Ise jingo organized their own confraternities of pilgrims. In modern times male or female sendatsu have an important role as pilgrimage leaders, traveling with pilgrims, leading them in worship and explaining the special features of the shrines and temples on a pilgrimage.
Sengen-zukuri-the unusual two-storied, red-painted shrine architectural style (-zukuri) associated with the Fuji-san Hongu sengen taisha, Shizuoka.
Sengoku-the “warring states” era (1467-1572) of civil war in Japan which preceded the Tokugawa peace. The term sengoku is a classical reference to a comparable period in Chinese history.
Sengu-“shrine transfer.” Also go-sengu, or shikinen-go senza-sai (special year enshrinement rite) or similar. It refers to the practice of transferring a kami from one shrine building to another one which has been newly-built, or from the main shrine to an o-tabisho during a matsuri, or simply from one shrine to another in cases where the kami has two “houses”. Before the Tokugawa period the practice of transferring a kami to a shrine in a private residence was also widespread. The best-known type of sengu is the shikinen sengu “special ceremony-year transfer.” Carried out every 20 years at the Ise jingu, in which Amaterasu in transferred at dead of night to the new neighboring shrine. The sengu procession in a profoundly dramatic and solemn ritual event marked by various taboos (imi). Other sengu at intervals of about a generation are carried out elsewhere, sometimes at shrines of quite small villages. The cost of periodic rebuilding in substantial and now has to be net (including at Ise) by voluntary contributions. Torches (taimatsu), lanterns (chochin), etc., may be used to suggest night time even where the sengu ceremony actually takes place in daylight.
Senja mairi-“thousand shrine visits.” A form of pilgrimage (junpai) popular from late medieval times which involved visits to numerous different shrines on the basis that this generated more merit than repeated visits to a single shrine. The practice of senja mairi was prohibited during the Tempo era (1831-45) shortly before the collapse of the shogunate.
Senko nogi- rite of transfer. An example of sengu. The transfer of the kami of the wakamiya shrine in Nara from the shrine to a temporary abode (o-tabisho) for the on-matsuri. The transfer take place on 17 December and includes private priestly rites, repeated announcements to the kami and a mile long torch lit procession of 50 priests dressed in white, accompanies by musicians and chanting in monotone.
Senza-sai-rite of transferring the seat. The ceremony to transfer a kami to another “seat” perhaps during rebuilding or repair of a shrine. It is usually a solemn ceremony carried out in darkness in a spirit of awe and mystery. Some larger shrines have a special building called o-kari-den to house the kami during repairs to the honden.
Senzo-a general term for ancestors.
Sessha-an “additional” or “included” shrine, like a massha, found in the grounds of a major shrine and usually enshrining a minor kami, perhaps from a merged shrine.
-Sha-shrine. That which marks a place where kami resides. It is the “ja” of jinja (jin=kami). In “Japanese” pronunciation, sha is read Yashiro. The character sha is composed of two elements, to point out, indicate, and earth, ground.
Shaden- shrine hall(s). a collective term for the central buildings of a shrine. Depending on the size and configuration of the shrine the shaden may include honsha/hongu, bekku, oku-miya, sessha and massha.
Sha-go-shrine-titles, for example [dai]-jingu, -gu, taisha and the most common appellation jinja or –sha. Before the Meiji restoration most officially ranked shrines were awarded their status by the yoshida priestly clan in response to petitions and donations. As a result of the centralization of shrine ranking since the Meiji period and again after 1945 by the jinja honcho, titles of shrines now reflect more or less their relative status within a single loose hierarchy that has at its apex the Ise Jingu.
Shajikyoku-the Bureau of shrines and Temples, the government office which administered religious affairs from 1877, when it was set up to replace the kyobusho (ministry of religious education) which had in 1872 absorbed the Jingisho (ministry of divinity).
Shaka-shakyamuni (Buddha). The name of the Buddha who appeared as a human being in India. One of the major “cosmic” Buddhas of Mahayana Buddhism. In Japan, he is the central Buddha of the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo) particularly revered by the Tendai and Nichiren sects.
Shakaku seido-shrine-rank system. The methods for ranking shrines, the number of shrines ranked in any system and the authorities empowered to confer ranks have varied considerably in different periods of Japanese history. Before the Meiji period we cannot speak of a country-wide system, only of some shrines or local deities receiving various kinds of official acknowledgement while the vast majority did not. In the Engi-shiki 2,861 named shrines (now proudly referred to as shikinai-sha, “shrines in the [Engi] –shiki”) were divided into kamperisha, entitled to receive visits from imperial messengers, and Kokuheisha, provincial shrines. Further subdivisions of major and minor (dai, sho) shrines reflected the nature of offerings made. Other shrines elites emerged in the Heian period such as the ichi/ni/san-no-miya rankings and the ni-juni-sha or 22 shrines in the Kyoto-Ise-Nara region. Before the Meiji period the shinkai (“status of the kami” i.e. of the shrine) could in principle be changed by imperial decree. From 1665 the authority to recognize a shrine or raise the rank of its kami (its shinkai) was in most cases, that is outside the imperial court itself, the responsibility of the Yoshida family whose decisions were made in response to petitions and donations from supporters of a shrine. The study of shinkai provides interesting insights into the rise and fall in popularity of individual shrines before the Meiji period. In the years just before the Meiji restoration, gaining official recognition as a shrine from the Yoshida was an important means for “Shinto” type new religions movements (such as konko-kyo) to escape harassment by local authorities. There was however no reason before 1868 to bring all shrines in the country into a single hierarchical system since (a) the country was divided into virtually autonomous fiefs and (b) kami were not seen as separate from Buddhism, so the status of shrines also depended on their role within Buddhist temple-shrine complexes (jinguji jisha). A modern, centralized, national shrine-ranking system (properly termed a shakaki seido) with Ise Jingu at its apex was introduced in the Meiji period to underpin “state shinto” developments. In 1871/1872 recognized shrines were categorized into 209 “governmental” (kansha) shrines and over 100,000 “general” (shosha) shrines, with subdivisions such as fusha (metropolitan) and sonsha (village) relating to size, importance and location. The effectiveness of the system rested on the separation of shrines fro Buddhism (shinbutsu bunri), the identification and as time went on merger of unrecognized shrines (jinja gappei), and the establishment of Shinto as the state cult with consequent government support for recognized shrines. The government’s role in determining the status of shrines ended in 1945 and in its place the Jinja Honcho now governs the ranking of its member shrines, about 90 % of shrines in the country.
Shake-shrine-families. Households attached to a shrine who by tradition normally supplied the shrine’s negi and gon-negi priests and miko.
Shaku-the flat piece of wood carried upright like a scepter as part of the formal fan, is derived from Chinese-influenced Heian court costume (ocho-yoshiki) and suggests authority, having formerly been carried out by high-ranking officials. Various explanations are given for its use, ranging from dignified ornament to “reminder” of unspecified matters. Shaku were made from a variety of materials in the past but these days are normally made from hinoki.
Sha-musho-the administrative offices of a shrine.
Shaso-shrine monks. Buddhist monks who before shinbutsu bunri in the Meiji period worshipped kami as Buddhist divinities (gongen) at particular shrines.
Shikon-the four tama (spirits).
Shimenawa-a rope, traditionally of twisted straw and adorned with hanging strips of straw, zigzag paper or cloth streamers (yu, shide, representing offerings). It’s function, like the torii, is to delimit a tabooed, sacred or purified space. A shimenawa often hung between the posts of a torii under the cross bar(s), indeed a shimenawa between two posts may have been prototype ritual areas, to mark sacred trees or rocks or to decorate buildings including shrines and houses at special or festival times. Shimenawa vary in size and shape from a simple narrow rope to stylized, usually tapered and exaggeratedly thick hawsers up to six feet in a diameter. The mythical origin of the shimenawa is said to be the bottom-tied-rope (shiri-kume-hawa) which according to the Kojiki and Nikongi was used by the kami Futo-tama to prevent Amaterasu from returning to the cave in which she had concealed herself, once she had been lured out. According to the Kogoshui the rope encircled the new palace built for Amaterasu.
Shinbatsu-“Divine retribution”. A concept in modern Shinto theology, adapted from the Sino-Japanese notion of tenbatsu or “heavenly retribution” for unfilial or insulting behavior, etc., and relating to tatari. It may take form such as illness or sudden death. Punishment may be meted out by the kami if warnings against good conduct are ignored.
Shinboku-sacred tree. In many shrines a tree or a grove of trees may be marked with a shimenawa. The tree(s) may be regarded as a shintai of the kami. Many shrines are located among trees, suggesting that the grove itself is part of the shrine.
Shinbutsu bunri- also Shinbutsu Hanzen. Dissociation or “separation” of kami and Buddhas which received government sanction with an order from the newly revived Dajokan of March 28, 1868. All shrines were instructed to submit a history of their shrine and is traditional Buddhist identity and to get rid of any Buddhist status used as shintai and any Buddhist items such as images, gongs or bells. In April 1868 the instruction was repeated and the following month all Buddhist priests connected with shrines were instructed to return to lay life and then by ordained as Shinto priests. Many already had Shinto ordination as part of their Buddhist training. The following year the ex-priests were instructed to let their hair grow long to prove that they had renounced the Buddhist priesthood. At the same time, the nobility were prohibited from joining the Shinto priesthood and efforts were made to wrest the control of shrines from hereditary priestly families. In 1872 instructions were issued to Buddhist temples prohibiting the Buddhist teachings that the Buddhas were the hontai (basis essence) and the kami the hotoke or avatars. The idea of dissociating “Shinto” and “Buddhism” were not new to the Meiji period, similar events had happened before where Neo-Confucian and anti-Buddhist sentiments were directed against powerful shrine-temple complexes (jisha, jinguji) or the excessive influence of Buddhist priests in provincial affairs. Two centuries earlier in 1666 the feudal government of the Mitohan, motivated largely by Confucian and kokugaku anti-Buddhist sentiments investigated and then closed half of the 2,377 Buddhist temples in the domain, ordered all Buddhist objects to be removed from shrines and inaugurated a building program to provide one shrine for each village. The Meiji government directive to remove from “Shinto” shrines any “Buddhist” elements such as bells, inscriptions or status of bosatsu used as shintai mobilized some popular anti-Buddhist support, including mob violence and the wanton destruction of many Buddhist temples, particularly those in the close vicinity of shrines, as well as hosts of Buddhist scriptures, art and temple treasures, under the slogan “haibutsu kishaku”, destroy Buddha, kill Shakyamuni. The integrated tradition of shugendo mountains religion was almost completely destroyed by the process of shinbutsu bunri, which paved the way for the establishment of a non-Buddhist, state-supported nation a list path in the quest for survival in rapidly modernizing Japan. From this time until 1945 it was forbidden for kami to be referred to by their Buddhist names or for Buddhist scriptures to be used in shrines, although in certain cases (e.g. Hachiman, Gion) the claim that the kami were not Buddhist divinities was hardly credible. In the post-1945 period a certain amount of re-integration of kami and Buddhas has taken place, as much through the combinatory approaches of some (though not all) new religions as in main stream Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. The shugendo tradition underwent a revival after 1945 at some of its ritual centers. Perhaps the most striking indication of the inseparability of Buddhas and kami in the continuing near-universal Japanese habit of participating in life-cycle rituals at Shinto shrines while at the same time reverencing ancestors and engaging in funeral customs according to Buddhist rites. In other words, the “separated” traditions have remained integrated at the level of lived experience.
Shinbutsu shugo- “amalgamation of Buddhas and kami.” A rather vague term applied to the syncretism or synthesis of Buddhism with local religious practices from the Nara period onwards. In like with its assimilative philosophy Buddhism adopted local spirits are “protectors” of Buddhism, including them in Buddhist rites and soon identifying them as devas or “trace manifestations”, avatars or local incarnations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Shinbutsu shugo suggests a rather unconscious syncretism between two pre-existing traditions and is often contrasted with specific schools of combinatory thought such as ryobu Shinto and sanno-ichijitsu-shinto and the theory of honji-suijaku from which, some shintoists believe, an ancient and indigenous Shinto later freed itself. However the amalgamation or assimilation of local or imported kami with Buddhist divinities was often deliberate and detailed, and is consistent with the pattern of religious syncretism characteristic of the Buddhist tradition throughout South and East Asia. Adoption as Buddhist objects of worship and identification with eminent Buddhist divinities was the means by which local kami eventually achieved a relatively high spiritual status within the Japanese world-view.
Shinden-kami-hall. One of the three main shrines in the imperial palace. It is the “hall of the kami” (of heaven and earth).
Shin’en- sacred garden. Another name for the precincts of a shrine (keidaichi).
Shinji- sacred ground. A place used at certain times for the performance of rituals.
Shinkai-“kami-status”. The rank or status of a shrine.
Shinkan-clergy. Shinshoku. Other terms with a wide meaning such as shinkan have been used as various times for Shinto priests.
Shin-mon-“Kami-gate”. A gate, often an impressive roofed construction built in the style of the shrine, which allows the approaching visitor to pass through the shrine’s encircling walls or fences (tamagaki) and can be closed at night. There are several types or designations of shin-mon. Ro-mon can be applied to any category but sometimes refers to a gate formerly reserved for the imperial messenger to the shrine. So-mon usually means the gate through the second tamagaki but may also mean outer gates. The names yotsu-ashi-mon “four legged gate” and yatsu-ashi-mon “eight legged gate” indicate the number of pillars supporting the central pillars from which these types of gates are hung. Kara-mon means a gate of multi gabled Chinese (Tang) style from the Kamakura period and zuijin-mon is a gate which either enshrines the shrine’s guardians (zuiin=”attendant”) or is flanked by their statues. The guardians used often by the Buddhist figures, and many were destroyed in the wake of the shinbutsu bunri decrees of 1868. Shrine gates were a continental, Buddhist-influenced with the spread of ryobu Shinto it became common to build two-story portals instead of simple torii. Examples of classic Buddhist-style gates are the Yomei-mon at the Nikko Toshogu and the gates of the Gion, Kamo and Hakozaki shrines. Gates such as those at the Meiji and Yasukuni shrines constructed since the separation of Buddhas and kami in 1869 are largely of unpainted wood with a thatched, tiled or copper roof in a 19th century “pure Shinto” style, though the sugo-isobe jinja, in Ishikawa has a gate built in 1875 in stone and iron work in a unique three-storied semi-European fashion.
Shin-po-sacred treasures. It refers to treasures which are kept in the honden or homotsu-den (treasure-hall) of a shrine and regarded as the belongings of the kami. The treasures, which are likely to be kept securely wrapped and enclosed and whose identity may even be uncertain, can be items such as works of art, sacred garments, weapons, musical instruments, bells and mirrors.
Shinsen-sacred food offerings. Ritual offerings of food and drink for the kami. The context of the offerings will vary according to the kami and the occasion on which the food is offered, but the nature of food offerings and the careful manner of their presentation is precisely regulated in each case, shinsen may exceptionally include up to 75 different dishes. Shinsen for the kami always include sake (rice wine), sometimes brewed specially in the shrine premises, and usually rice. Other items which are products of nature and are being “returned” to the kami who provided them included various kinds and colors of rice, fish, birds and animals, mountain, field and sea vegetables, fruits, sweet items, salt and water. At a large matsuri the shinsen dishes, supported on small trays or stands (o shiki, takatsuki) are passed in ritual sequence by a relay of priests from the purified shinsen-den, the building where the offerings are prepared, to the heiden where they are offered to the kami on the hassokuan. Once consecrated by being presented before the kami the food is brought back to the shinsen-den and consumed by priests and other participants in the naorai mean. Shinsen items are categorized as jukusen (cooked food), seisen (raw food) and less commonly sosen (vegetarian food). Shinsen offered to the kami are generally “strong” raw or salty and include sake, meat or fish, in contrast to offerings to Buddhist divinities which are on the sweet side and are not meant to include meat or alcohol.
Shinsen shoji-roku- “newly compiled record of clans.” Also known as shoji-roku. The oldest extant copy is late Kamakura (14th century) but the original was brought out in 814 or 815. It records the history of ancient clans, classifying them into those descended from kami, those descended from emperors, and families which originally came to Japan from China and Korea. It thereby supplements information from the Kojiki, Nihongi, etc., on ancient Japanese culture and the kami.
Shinshoku-the Shinto clergy, or a Shinto priest. Another general term is kannushi (-san). During the Tokugawa period from 1665 shrines and priestly ranks within shrines were officially licensed by the Yoshida and Shirakawa families. Following the Meiji resotratoin the Shinto priesthood was centrally controlled by government, and since 1945 priestly ranks have been regulated largely by the Jinja Honcho, who regard as the most “orthodox” (the English word is used) those priests who are appointed to affiliated shrines by the president of Jinja Honcho following a course of instruction of Kogakkan or Kokugakuin universities, though priests may also be trained at a number of other seminaries to pass the qualifying examinations. Within individual shrines priestly ranks reflecting seniority include guji, the chief priest, gun-guji, assistant chief priest, regi, senior priest(s), and miko, shrine maidens. The Jinja Honcho also bestows recognition of priestly merit at a national level through a system of quasi-academic ranks and grades ranging from jokai (purity), the highest, through meikai (brightness), seikai (righteousness) and chokkai (uprightness). The priestly rank of saishu is restricted to the Ise Jingu. There are about 20,000 shrinto priests in Japan, the majority of whom serve more than one shrine and supplement their income by other employment.
Shintai-kami-body, sacred substance. An object in which the kami inheres. A term best left untranslated, shintai is respectfully referred to as go-shintai or in “Japanese”reading mi-tama-shiro or yori-shiro. A shintai may be a natural feature such as a rock, tree, mountain, volcano crater, waterfall or well or it may be a manufactured object such a mirror, sword, painting, gohei, comb, iron bell, specially shaped piece of metal or paper, or a “found” item such as a stone or pebble. Where the shintai is indoors it is normally kept in the honden. In many cases the identity of the shintai is unknown or at least secret, since it is wrapped in more and more boxes and precious cloths over the years and never inspected. Buddhist statues, which is to say statues of gongen, etc., made before the Meiji period when kami and Buddhas were the same thing, were commonly used as shintai until the shinbutsu bunri of 1868. Despite the instruction to burn them, some (now identified as shinzo, kami-statues) have survived as shintai. There are also some post-Meiji statues of kami enshrined as shintai. When a new bunsha (branch shrine of a major kami) is established the mitama or bunrei (divided spirit) of the kami is usually now carried in a mirror which is ritually installed as the new shinta.
Shinto-a Sino-Japanese term meaning simply “gods” or “spirits” (shin/kami) or the way, conduct, power or deeds of the kami. In China the term shen-tao written with the same characters as Shinto referred to spirits and spirit-worship, especially non-Buddhist rites, for example it could mean Taoism. In medieval times in Japan Shinto was understood as part of the Buddhist world and seems to have meant “matters pertaining to kami”, localized spirits, as found in most Buddhist cultures. “Shinto” is not a term used or understood much in ordinary speech in Japan and the meaning of the term has varied in different periods of Japanese history. There is little consensus on the meaning of Shinto in books by Western or Japanese scholars in fact the term “Shinto” has taken on a rather misleading aura of solidity and concreteness typical English translation of Shinto as “The way of the kami” reads too much significance into the “-to” (Tao, way) element, which is almost redundant in Japanese. Some scholars suggest we talk about types of Shinto such as popular Shinto, folk Shinto, domestic Shinto, sectarian Shinto, imperial household Shinto, shrine Shinto, state Shinto, new Shinto religions, etc., rather than regard Shinto as a single entity. This approach can be helpful but begs the question of what is meant by “Shinto” in each case, particularly since each category incorporates or has incorporated Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, folk religious and other elements. The same issues arise in understanding “schools” or lineages of Shinto such as fukko Shinto, watarai Shinto, ryobu Shinto, suiga Shinto, yui-itsu Shinto, yoshikawa Shinto, etc. In each case the term “Shinto” has to be understood differently. Since the 18th century the word “Shinto” has increasingly been used by its proponents (such as represent actives of kokugaku and modern Shinto theologians) to mean an ancient, pure and enduring Japanese national tradition or expression of the national “spirit” which predated the introduction of Buddhism, was temporary subsumed under Buddhism (for 1300 years#SYMBOL \f "Symbol"188) and was revived in the Meiji period when it was “separated” from Buddhism (shinbutsu bunri). The idea of such a tradition however originated in the activities of the koku gaku scholars of the late Tokugawa period and was first propagated widely as part of the system of emperor-worship which underpinned Japanese nationalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, hence its wide currency today. It assumes that ancient pre-Buddhist Japanese religion was “Shinto” to which we can somehow “return”. Many elements of modern Shinto certainly have archaic or archaic-seeming roots whose resonances can be appreciated and consciously celebrated, but the view that Shinto as we know it now somehow predates Chinese and other continental influences can be maintained only by ignoring the facts of Japanese religious life before shinbutsu bunri in 1868, and indeed the overwhelmingly syncretic or combinatory approach of ordinary Japanese people in religious matters manifested again since the advent of religious freedom in 1945. The term “Shinto” should therefore be approached with caution.
Shinto Directive-the Shinto Directive (in Japanese translation Shinto shirei) was a short document produced, under the direction of the American William K. Bunce, by the Religions Division of the Civil Information and Education Section, Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP) on 15 December 1945. On behalf of the occupation forces it prohibited in any publicly-funded or government institution not only Shinto docturines and practices but also the “militaristic and ultranationalistic ideology” of any religion or creed which asserted the superiority of the Emperor or the people of Japan. As a result of the various provisions of the Directive shrine Shinto was placed on the same footing as sect Shinto or any other religion “in so far as it may in fact be the philosophy or religion of Japanese individuals.” The Jinja Honcho was set up in response to this directive in order to reconstitute the national network of shrines on a voluntary basis.
Shinto kaiga-shinto paintings. Shinto seems originally to have been aniconic, the kami having no fixed forms around which iconography could develop. Iconic representations including paintings and statues appeared as a result of Buddhist influence and largely represent the combinatory tradition (shinbutsu shugo) which locates the kami within a Buddhist world-view. Paints include portraits of deified humans such as Sugawara, Michizane (tenjin) and kami in a variety of forms such as old men, women, Buddhist priests and children. Pictures of kami as human-life figures are also found in post-Meiji popular shinto art such as scroll paintings. In some cases paints have become shintai. Shrines were classically depicted in two ways. The paintings known as suika-ga are essentially landscapes which show shrines as the beautiful dwelling-places of local kami. Probably the best-known example in a painting of the Nachi waterfall at Kumano. In a painting different category of art are the honji-suijaku-ga (or suijaku-ga) which are mandara (mandalas) replete with symbolism depicting the shrine-temple complexes as Buddhist “pure lands” peopled with bosatsu (honji, basic essence) and kami (suijaku, trace manifestations).
Shintoku-divine virtue. The particular influence exerted by a kami. Generally speaking it means the benefits people pray to the kami for such as business prosperity, recovering from illness or traffic safety. Parents and students seek the assistance of Sugawara, Michizane (Tenjin) for educational success at numerous shrines, while the Izumo taisha in Shimane prefecture is visited almost constantly by young couples because the deity there helps cement marriages. Though the basis for a shintoku ascribed to a particular kami may sometimes be found in ancient texts, in practice a particular named kami was or is believed to possess since these depend on the time and context of the kami’s enshrinement and the particular views of those who enshrined the kami.
Shinza-the kami-seat. An object or place into which the kami enters. The term is used for the tatami throne or couch used in the daijosai.
Shinzo-kami-statues. Shinzo (divine images) can also mean paintings of kami. Statues of kami developed as a result of Buddhist influences-there is no evidence of kami being represented in statues before the introduction of Buddhist iconography from China. The earliest examples are late 9th century statues from the Heian period preserved in the shrine of Hachiman connected with the Yakushi temple at Nara. These show Hachiman as a Buddha priest, the empress Jingo as a kami and another female kami Nakatsu-hime. Other famous examples from the 9th century are the male and female kami statues preserved in the Matsuno shrine in Kyoto. There was however no development of an independent tradition of “shinto” sculpture, statues were principally a means of expressing the identity of Buddhas and kami and the noteworthy artistic developments took place within ryobu shinto. Such statues became a popular form of shintai. A few of these Buddhist/shinto statues escaped burning the shinbutsu bunri of 1868-72 and remain as shintai in shrines, the justification being that they were always “shinto” images. Some statues have been commissioned since the Meiji restoration to act as shintai or to adorn shrines.
Shogun-seii-taishogun (barbarian-subduing great general) was the title originally assigned to whichever military leader was engaged on behalf of the emperor in subjugating the Ezo (Ainu) in the North of Honshu, the main island of Japan. In 1192 Minamoto no Yoritomo was given this title and set up a bakufu government at Kamakura to exercise control over all the Japanese provinces. The shogunate thus established by passed imperial rule and Japan was ruled by successive dynasties of shoguns until the last Togugawa Yoshinobu (or Keiki, 1827-1913), who resigned on November 9th 1867 to make way for the modernizing government headed by the emperor Meiji.
Shojiki-honesty, uprightness, veracity, frankness. A virtue highly valued in shinto thought.
Shojin-diligence, devotion, making spiritual progress, purification. This may refer to observing abstinence or worshipping the kami.
Shono nagashi- shoro (also pronounced seirei, shoryo) are souls of the dead, spirit visitors. Shoro nagashi “drifting away of the souls” refers to the practice (at bon) of floating paper or other boats with lanterns (toro) downriver to “send away” souls of the ancestors who have visited for the bon celebrations.
Sosai-funerals (shinto). Until the 19th century shinto (i.e. non-Buddhist) burial rites were hardly known, the corpse is supremely polluting and virtually all funerals including those of emperors and shrine priests were carried out according to Buddhist rites. Remains were (and are) normally disposed of by cremation, the ashes lodged with a Buddhist temple or kept in the home. Shinto revivalists of the Tokugawa period developed shinto funeral rites following the lead of Hirata, Atsutane and in a few fiefs such as Mito or Aizu the daimyo encouraged shinto-type funerals, adapted from Buddhism from 1644 onwards there was a movement to have emperors buried rather than cremated. For a brief period from July 1873 to May 1875 cremation was completely banned by the new Meiji government on the mistaken assumption that the practice waws unacceptable in the West. The Meiji administration made shinto burial rites compulsory for shrine priests to underline the new dissociation of shinto and Buddhism but the emergence of “civic” or “non-religious” shinto from the 1880's deprived shrine priests of their teaching fuction and the right to officiate at funerals, though priests of minor shrines were allowed to continue performing funerals on an ad hoc basis within the newly independent “shinto sects” (kyoha shinto) shinto-style funerals became the norm. Shinto funerals as known today are essentially a 19th century innovation adapted from Buddhist practices, for example where Buddhists hold ceremonies every 7th day until the 49th after death, the shinto rites involve ceremonies every 10 days until the 50th. The shinto coffin is similar in shape to a European one and instead of a dark-coated Buddhist bearers ans shaven-headed priests the shinto procession wears white and carries sakaki twigs. Motoori, Norinaga’s idea that the dead go to the gloomy land of yomi rather than becoming hotoke (enlightened spirits) has not taken popular root. Today, shinto funerals remain for most Japanese the rare exception to the rule of “born shinto, die Buddhist”. Those who choose a shinto funeral are likely to be shinto priests or their descendants, or those connected with families from the shinto revivalist domains of Mito or Aizu, or people in areas such as southern Kyushu where early Meiji governors imposed shinto rites universally, or members of shinto sects. Because of the polluting character of death a shinto funeral need not involve a priest. The chief mourner drawn from the relatives officiates and those remains a strong body of opinion in shinto that death is polluting and should not be the province of shinto. The recent funeral of the Showa emperor involved courtiers dressed like priests rather than “real” shinto priests and the rites were carried out in a shrine.
Sumiyoshi-zukuri-the style of shrine architecture epitomized by the sumiyoshi taisha, Osaka. It is slightly larger than the Otori style and built to a rectangular plan with inner and outer buildings summoned by a low wooden fence. The roof has straight rather than concave sloping sides with high ornamental chigi at both ends.
Sutanpu bukku-“stamp book” widely used by shrine visitors and pilgrims to collect the rubber-stamp seals of shrines.
Suzu-a cluster of bells, used in shrine rituals. Isuzu means “five bells” and Isuzu-gawa is the name of the clear river (gawa) that flows past the Ise Jingu and in which visitors to the shrine was their hands and face before proceeding.
Taikyo-or daikyo. The “great teaching”, one of the names for the new national religion promulgated by the early Meiji government, elements of which developed into modern Shinto.
Taikyo senpu undo-“The Great Promulgation Campaign” or “Great Teaching Movement”. The first attempt by the Meiji government from 1870-1884 formulate a nation-uniting religion. The campaign comprised three elements: (1) the three great teachings (taikyo, sanjo no kyosoku), (2) the Daikyo-in or Great Teaching Institute in Tokyo where the movement was based and (3) an army of national evangelists (kyodo-shoku) drawn from many different walks of life trained in the national creed.
Taima-also Jingu taima. The formal name given to the millions of o-fuda or amulets of Amaterasu distributed by the Ise Shrine. It constitutes a “seat” of the kami through which she may be worshipped. Smaller o-mamori or o-harai of Amaterasu are distributed for personal use.
Taisha-zukuri-the ancient style of plain wood shrine architecture epitomized by the honden of the Izumo Taisha, Shimane prefecture. It has thatched slightly concave roof sides, a large central pillar (kokoro-no-hashira, the “heart pillar”) and comprises four sections enclosed by a verandah with a low balustrade. The entrance, at the side of the building, in approached by steep wooden steps protected by a separate sloping porch-type roof.
Takama-hara-or takama-no-hara. The Plain of High Heaven. The other world from which the heavenly kami, Amatsu-kami descend. It is the upper realm in a “vertical” cosmology comprising high heaven, this human world and yomi, the lower realm of the dead. Takama-ga-hara is sacred but otherwise not much different from the physical world. It contains rice fields, houses, earth floors, animals and the cave in which Amaterasu hides herself. The notion widespread since the Meiji era that the emperor was descended from the kami of takama-ga-hara derived from the rediscovered “classic” mythologies of the Kojiki and the Nihongi, where as the traditional cosmology of shrine worship overwhelmingly refers to kami who live in this world or come from mountains (yama-no-kami), over the horizon or under the sea (tokoyo, marebito, ryugu).
Takatsuki-a lacquered wooden pedestal table or stand either rounded (maru-takatsuki) or rectangular (kaku-takatsuki) used for shinsen, food offerings.
Tama-tama has two meanings, depending on the character with which it is written. One character for tama also pronounced “gyoku” means precious jewel, as in tamagaku the “jewel-fence” surrounding a shrine or tamagushi a branch offering. The more common meaning of tama in a Shinto context is the tama also pronounced “rei” meaning soul or spirit. Tama is an entity which resides in something to which it gives life and vitality, whether this is human, animal, or a natural feature, etc. Disembodied, the tama may be a kami or aspect of a kami, or a spirit of an ancestor or other dead person. The honorific form is mi-tama or go-rei. Tama is a key and variously interpreted term in the spiritual psychologies related to Shinto, and various kinds and functions of spirit have been distinguished. Shikon, the “four tama” for example are (1) ara-mitama, a violent or coercive spirit and (2) nigi-mitama, a gentle and pacifying spirit which has two aspects, namely (3) saki-mitama which imparts blessings and (4) kushi-mitama which causes mysterious transformations. Mitama-shiro is the representation or seat of a spirit, i.e., a sacred object through which a kami is worshipped, a shintai. Tama-furi refers to spiritual exercises. Tama-shizume is a ceremony to prevent the soul from leaving the body taka-yuri-hime is a maiden in whom the spirit of a kami dwells. Kuni-tama is the spirit of the land.
Tamagaki-the fence, or fences, with gateways (shin-mon) which enclose a shrine. Tama-gaki means, “jewel fence”, perhaps meaning “fence round the treasure (the kami)”, though the etymology is unclear. In the past the fence was an arbor or simple fence of brushwood surrounding a kami, but stylized versions in wood and stone were developed as elements in shrine architecture. Ise Jingu for example has four fences set close together. Starting from the outermost fence of a shrine and working inwards the usual appellations are: ita-gaku, soto-tama-gaki, uchi-tama-gaki and the inmost fence, mizu-gaki, though different terms may be used at particular shrines.
Tamagushi-a branch of sacred sakaki tree with zig-zag strips (shide) of paper or cloth, or lengths of tree fibers (yu) attached. Tamagushi may be used as offerings, or as amulets. “Tama” may refer to the sakaki hung with jewels mentionedin the Nihongi account of creation.
Tanritsu jinja-“individually-established shrine.” A postwar category of shrine, referred to also as a tanritsu shukyo dantai or “independent religious body.” It means that the shrine, usually because it is important enough to be self-supporting and self-governing, is affiliated neither with the countrywide Jinja Honcho nor with other smaller shrine networks such as the Jinja Honkyo is Kyoto. Examples of tanritsu shrines include the yasukuni jinja, Fushimi Inari taisha and Omiwa-taisha.
Tanuki-spirit-creature similar to a mischievous raccoon or badger who can change into a human being or a flask of sake.
Tatari-spiritual or psychic retribution, the curse of a spirit or kami. This is usually because of insult to a kami or neglect or rites, whether of purification or for ancestors. Setting foot on a holy mountain in an unpurified state might incur tatari from the presiding kami. Sickness or possession by a kami or spirit fox may occur as a result of tatari. Some ritual or magical (majinai) action is necessary to dispel the tatari.
Temizu-“hand-water”. It refers to the action of ritually cleansing the hands and mouth with water at a temizu-ya, or entry to a shrine. The temizu-ya contains a tank or large basin of running water, and generally wooden ladles with which to pour the water.
Tenno-rei-“imperial soul”. The idea that each new emperor receives, at the daijosai, the eternal imperial soul passed down through the previous emperor.
Tenno-sei- the emperor-system. A term used for the religio-political ideology dominant in Japan from the Meiji period to 1945 which eventually permeated all areas of civic life including the various religions in Japan. As such, it is preferable to the term “state Shinto” (kokka Shinto) which is sometimes used as its equivalent.
Torii-the distinctive archway which marks the approach or entrance to a Shinto shrine. It typically consists of two round uprights (hashira) supporting a two-layer upper cross-beam (kasagi supported on shimagi) often curving up slightly at the ends in the popular myojin style. A little below the top is a separate under-cross-beam (nuki). The torii appeared in Japan after the introduction of Chinese culture and Buddhism. Until the Meiji period torii routinely displayed Buddhist plaques on the central “gaku zuka” holder between the two cross-beams. All such Buddhist elements were removed during shinbutsu bunri. The origins of “torii” (written as “bird-perch”) and the torii shape are speculative. The word may derive from Sanskrit torana-turan; an arch or portal, and entrances to Korean palaces had a torii-like entrance gate. Since poles are used to symbolize deities in Korea and in Japanese language hashira, “pillar”, is the counter for kami (as “head” is the counter for “cattle” in English). A Shinenawa is often strung across the torii in addition to the crossbeam(s) and the basic shape of the torii may simply derive from a rope strung between pillars or bamboo stakes used to enclose a sacred space. In the style called churen or shimenawa torii the torii simply comprises two posts and a rope, and this is the arrangement used for a temporary torii if a more permanent torri cannot be used for some reason. Whatever its origin, the torii became popular in temples and shrines and developed its own identity in Japan, with more than 20 different types now in use. Torii range from simple unpainted wooden or stone structures to bright red arches and massive concrete portals. Construction styles vary to some extent with the type of shrine but there is no strict correspondence between type of shrine and type of torii, and different types may be found together in a shrine. Simple “pure Shinto” style is wood or modern fireproof material such as concrete were favored after the Meiji restoration. Although most types of torii have two posts, the “ryobu”, or gongen style has four half-height legs as additional supports to the two hashira and the “mi-hashira” torii has as its name suggests three posts, set in a triangle. The sumiyoshi torii has square-posts, set in a triangle. The sumiyoshi torii has square-cut instead of round pillars while the shinmei type shares the stylized simplicity of the Ise jingu. The Ise shrine itself has the unique Ise torii or jingu torii. Shrines frequently have more than one torii and in cases such as the Fushimi Inari taisha in Kyoto a tradition has developed of companies donating torii to the shrine, so that the inner pathways of the shrine now pass through bright red “tunnels” of serried torii.
Torisha-under the shukyo dantai ho (Religious Organizations Law) of 1939 each recognized religious grouping (dantai) had to appoint a president or torisha. He held more or less absolute power over the organization and was answerable only to the government.
Toro-large lanterns, usually of stone but also of metal, bamboo and other wood, which adorn shrine precincts. Also used for square (and chochin-shaped) paper lanterns used at festivals, principally o-bon, where toro are floated down river to send away (okuribi) the souls of the ancestors. At the miyazu-no-toro nagashi (the drifting lanterns at miyazu, Kyoto) fireworks accompany a flotilla of 10,000 lanterns sent down the river on August 16th, while at the Omiya jinja, Kumamoto, each woman participant in a special kind of bon odori carries a lantern on her head.
Tsumi- pollution or sin (physical, moral or spiritual depending on the interpretation). It covers all kinds of destructive and polluting acts attributed to a variety of causes, from turbulent or possessing spirits (magatsuchi no kami) to defective filial piety or an unclean or undisciplined heart. All forms of tsumi from whatever source are susceptible to an appropriate form of harde, purification or exorcism.
Tsunabi- “rope-fire.” Japanese fireworks, so-called because the traditional method was to fill a bamboo tube with gunpowder and fire it along a rope. The method was used for signaling and setting to high places. Fireworks are used at a number of shrine festivals in summer and early autumn where their use is probably related to prayers for rain and the ripening of the crop. Notable examples, all from Ibaraki are the katsuragi-ryu (a lineage of performers) tsunable which combines hayashi music and tsunabi puppets at the Hitokotonushi jinja (13th September) and the Korakasa manto ritual at Washi-jinja. “Karakasa” in a huge Chinese-style bamboo “hat” set on fire by a tsunabi from a torii 100 meters away, manto means 10,000 lights. The takaoka-ryo (also a lineage) tsunabi at Atago jinja on July 23rd by the lunar calendar are attached to puppets who, when they are shot along the ropes appear to be performing unsupported.
Tsuzoku Shinto-popular Shinto. Another name for folk Shinto or minkan Shinto applied particularly to popular religious movements incorporating “Shinto” elements which arose before the Meiji restoration and accompanied intellectual developments such as kokugaki. The “popular Shinto” but have been appropriated by modern Shinto as part of its heritage since they developed outside institutional Buddhism and promoted coherent religious values compatible with modern Shinto among ordinary people. Examples include the hotoku movement of Ninomiya, Sontoku, the Shingaku movement of Ishida, Baigan and the teachings referred to as tsuzoku Shinto inspired by Masuho, Zanko (1655-1742). Though “popular” religion tends to be looked down upon by representatives of institutionalized religions including Shinto purists, most Japanese religion is of this character and many Japanese engage in some way in tsuzoku-type religious practices which combine at least the “three teachings” of Buddhism, Shinto (or Taoism) and Conficianism.
Ubasoka-lay ascetics (from Sanskrit upasaka, a non-monastic follower of the Buddha). Often refers to a magico-religious practitioners the prototype of the yamabushi or an itinerant healer or preacher.
Uji-a term used from early times in Japan to refer to a lineage group or clan. Any group of people with a common ancestral or tutelary deity, such as a Shinto parish. Members of the uji were called ujibito.
Waraji-straw sandals, grass-soled sandals. They are specially used in Buddhism, Shinto and by yamabushi, for walking on very holy ground such as sacred mountains and are thus associated with pilgrimage and asceticism. Each November in saru-no-hi (the 9th day on the Chinese calendar) at the Nakiri jinja, Mie, great 3 meter waraji are floated out to sea (waraji-nagashi) to petition for good fishing.
Wazawai-calamity, misfortune, a curse, ruin. Wazawai was traditionally thought to be a form of tsumi (pollution or misfortune) to be exorcised by harae, physical and/or spiritual purification before the victim could return to the community.
Yaku-barai-misfortune-purification. A type of harae (purification) designed to prevent calamity, for example during the yakudoshi year, where bad luck or disaster occurs too frequently.
Yatsu-mune-zukuri-“eight-roofed style.” “Eight” is used figuratively to mean “large” and yatsu-mune shrines usually have five-or seven-part roofs. It refers to a shrine architectural style (-zukuri) exemplified by Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto. It is a development of the gongen-zukuri style, with a small room (ishi-no-ma, room of stone) connecting the honden and haiden.
Yohai-jo-or yohai-sho, yohaiden. “Place (or hall) for worship from afar (yohai). “A location, often a small building, used for worship of another holy site from a distance, or for worship of an inaccessible “inner” shrine (okumiya) from a more convenient spot. From the 1870’s yohai-sho of the Ise jingu were established throughout Japan (some because provincial kotai jingu) as part of the effort by Ise priests to focus the worship of the population on the Ise shrines. In prewar Japan (and until 1947) the term yohai was used for the ceremony of bowing to the imperial palace from schools.
Yomi-according to Kokugaku interpreters of the Nihongi and Kojiki the nether world and land of the dead, the source of evil and pollution. It is inhabited by magatsuhi no kami, evil spirits and is the place to which Izanami went after her death. It may originally have referred to the tombs or mortuary-huts built by prehistoric Japanese rulers. The notion that yomi is our final destination was canvassed by Norinaga, Motoori but his bleak description of yomi, however scripturally orthodox from a kokugaku point of view, holds little attraction for the deceased or their well-wishers remaining in this world and in practice few Japanese believe that the dead go to yomi. Most funerals (sosai) are conducted according to Buddhist rites and the dead become ancestral spirits, i.e. hotoke (“Buddhas”).
Yudate-matsuri-cauldron ceremony. A ceremony in which water is boiled in a large cauldron and then sprinkled over participants and worshippers with bamboo fronds. It bears some relation to other heat-generating rites such as firewalking and is sometimes used to enable a miko to become possessed by the kami. A stylized version of the rite which originated at the Ise from part of the kagura repertoire, as yudate kagura.
Zuijin-“attendant deities.” Warrior-type guardians, often carrying bows and arrows. As protector of shrine gates they are known as kado-mori-no-kami. They are also associated with dosojin, protector of crossroads and other boundary areas.
-Zukuri-“construction style”. In a shinto context it usually refers to the architectural style of a shinto shrine. There are more than a dozen distinctive types of shrine architecture. The branch shrines (bunsha) of a major shrine are often built in the same style as the main shrine, but each shrine has its own individual history and it is not uncommon to find a mixture of styles.
Itako or ichiko-blind women shamans or spirit-mediums traditionally found in the north-east of Japan (Aomori, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi), though in modern times they are found working in urban areas throughout Japan as independent religious specialists. The role of Hako was for centuries one of the few occupations opened to girls born blind. The itako’s art is learned through apprenticeship to a practicing itako and starts before the age of puberty. Training includes the memorization of sacred texts and prayers, severe asceticism including suigyo (water-austerities) in the freezing winter and fasting. Such extreme practices are intended to lead to the acquisition of spiritual power. In a dramatic initiation ceremony the young woman is possessed by and then “married” to a kami who becomes her tutelary spirit (she may latter marry a husband in the ordinary way). Once initiated she acquires the rosary, musical instrument, etc., which she will summon the spirits at will in the future. Her dual functions then are to summon kami (kami-oroshi, literally “bringing down kami”) and to summon ghosts or ancestral spirits (hotoke-oroshi), passing on their utterances (kuchiyose) as advice to the living. The dual skills of the itako therefore transcend institutional distinctions between “Shinto” and “Buddhism”. Although most itako have since the Meiji period operated independently of Shinto shrines, their function of calling down the kami is implicitly symbolized and sometimes performed in shrines, e.g. in Miyagi prefecture at New Year (shogatsu) to divine the fortunes of the local community as well as the coming year’s harvest. The itako’s role as mediator or bridge between the world of the kami or spirits and the community echo what may once have been a function of the shrine miko, whose role is now largely ceremonial. There is a celebrated ritual gathering (osore-zan taisai) of Hako each July (20-24) set against the wild and desolate landscape of Mt. Osore, Aomori and linked to the soto zen temple of Entsuji. Here most of the requests put to the itako from the tens of thousands of visitors from all over Japan are for contact with hotoke, spirits of dead relatives.