Shinto Study Guide
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Shinto Study Guide Eastern Religions 50 points
considered a religion? In what ways is it unlike typical 1.Why is Shinto considered religions? According to the ancient Japanese culture divinity was not limited celestial gods or goddesses with superhuman superhuman powers. They believed that even trees, mountains, and rivers could hold divine powers as well. Basically anything that held a sense of awe and mystery held a divine nature. Shinto is considered a natural religion because because of its close association of Kami (Spirit of a thing) with natural phenomena. phenomena. Shinto is unlike a typical religion because it has no distinct founder, special scriptures, no revelation, not even a special religious philosophy or moral code. Most importantly there is not worship of a supreme godhead. The word Shinto itself means “way of the gods” (pg. 276).
2. Describe the creation myth Shinto uses to explain the origins of the Japanese Japanese people. people. How does it relate relate to the the imperi imperial al family? family? The Shinto Shinto creation creation story story discusses discusses that the the universe universe came into existence existence as a result result the mating of the Kami which represents the basic forces forces of nature. As a result of this union twelve primary kami came into existence and they resided in the heavenly realm. The last to be created of the twelve was Izangi which is the sky father, and Izanami who became an earth mother. Izanami died when she went into labor with the last kami, fire. She died due to difficult and a painful birthing birthing process. Izangi went to the underworld to find her, and when he found her he was given the command not to look at her but instead he disobeyed and was thrown out of the underworld. Upon returning to earth he renounced renounced his connection to Izanami, and washed himself which symbolically stood for an essential separation of the living and that of the dead. As he stood in the water three more kami’s were were created: stars, moon, and sun. sun. The sun because the most important of of all celestial dieties in Japanese Japanese cultures. cultures. The grandso grandson n of of Amaterasu, Amaterasu, the sun sun goddess goddess introdu introduced ced the cultivation of rice to the Japanese civilization. This grandson is also the direct ancestor of Jimmu Tenno, the legendary first emperor of Japan, thereby establishing the imperial family’s claim to divinity. P 278
3. How did Shinto get tangled up in the affairs that led to WWII? Because of an initial request of Matthew C. Perry to demand that the Japanese government grant certain trade concessions to his country, it catapulted Japan to become a society seized with passionate determination to remake the culture of Japan in the western image. They began to modernize and acquire the means of a national self-defense. The authoritative powers of japan saw the ancient Shinto as a useful tool for promoting the nationalist spirit, and achieving a strong national unity under the emperor. P 283-285
4. What has been the relationship between Buddhism and Shinto in Japan? Buddhism in Japan absorbed a lot from Shinto, it was a friendly rivalry. P 283
5. Define the following terms:
Kami – the spirit of objects and heavenly beings that inspire a sense of mystery and awe. Ugigami- The sacred place where the kami dwells. Shinto-Way of the gods Tama- stands for spirit or soul in ancient time or spirit or spiritual force in nature. Kokoro-Heart of truth/deity
6. How are kami, tama, and kokoro related to one another? They all deal with the spirit or and emotion.
7. Be able to explain these parts of a Shinto shrine by defining these terms:
Jinja-what the Shinto shrine is called in Japanese
Haiden- one of two buildings of the shrine, the “worship sanctuary” located in the front of the shrine. Honden- the second building more hidden from the public. This is where the “holy of holies” is located. Torii- The crossbar gateway that has almost become an icon of Japanese culture Shimenawa-a sacred rope, used to ward off evil spirits. Ema- small wooden tablet used for visitors to write prayers, request or thank yous.
8. What is a matsuri? Explain the reasons behind such an event. A matsuri is a general word for festival. Some are personal where a family celebrates an important event in a person’s life. The big ones involve the whole community and they celebrate the important events in the annual calendar. These festivals have ancient roots, and were originated due to the agricultural cycle.
9. From out myth readings: Who is Amaterasu ? What is Ise? Amaterasu is the sun goddess or kami of the sun. Ise is one of the oldest, and newest of Japan’s many great shrines. It is located on the seacoast of southern Honshu.
10. Give examples of at least two other figures in the Shinto Pantheon and explain their functions. Izangi and Izanami are the two parents of most of the deities in Shinto. They are the pioneers of the Japanese islands. Kagatsuchi is the god of fire; he birthed many of the volcanoes in japan.
11. What are some of the methods of purification used in Shinto? Why is purification so important? The purification is considered a ceremony. The Shinto priest performs it by dressing in sacramental vestments. Most time he will begin to chant aloud and wave the onusa (a stick or wand that blossoms into a large spray of white paper strips at one end) over the person that’s being purified. The person will also have to perform a ritual washing. Salt plays an important role in the ceremony
as well. Priests will begin to sprinkle salt over the thing to be purified, several times. Purification is important because it will please and soothe the kami. It is a removal of impurity and resorting natural order and harmony.