Konnichiwa! Mishi desu! Today I want to write about Shinto. I have some friends that say their religion is Shinto. What is Shinto and what makes them into Shinto you ask? Well, let me reveal Shinto to you today!
By the way, I’m a big anime fan. When I have free time, I usually watch anime with Japanese snacks.^^ There are so many anime that contains Japanese nature, especially when I watch Japanese ghost anime, it is so interesting. There are a lot of original ghost from Japan. Of course, everywhere you go abroad, you will get to see original things too. But somehow Japanese ghosts are so unique and scaryyyyyyy! You know Jhorror scares you to death! Opppppppps I’m starting to talk about a different thing. I have to go back to Shinto. ε≡Ξ⊂ ´⌒つ´∀｀)つ
What I want to say is Japanese has an original deep history that gets me so into it! I think there is something that always links up to their culture and history. That is why mostly everything is so deep and has meaning. Maybe after you read my post, you might be able to understand what I’m talking about!
Contents ε=ε=┏( >_<)┛
- 1 What is Shinto?
- 2 Shinto’s beliefs “Yaoyorozu no Kami(八百万の神)”
- 3 Shinto’s god “Amaterasu Oomikami(天照大神)”
- 4 How do you say a shrine in Japanese?
- 5 How many shrines are in Japan?
- 6 Shinto shrine “Inari shrine(稲荷神社)”
- 7 Inari and fox(Kitsune/狐)
- 8 Inarizushi(稲荷鮨/いなりずし)
- 9 Shinto priest(Kannushi/神主) and Shinto maiden(Miko/巫女)
- 10 The new year
- 11 Summary
What is Shinto?
If you ask me what Shinto is, It is a religion, the meaning of Shinto means the way of Kami(god). Shinto is originally from Japan, the purpose of Shinto is to be thankful for the universe. The universe? Yes!! That means you should respect all of the natural things in this earth. For example, mountains, trees, water, rocks, weather, whatever nature you can come up with!! Now you see there are many shrines that are close to the mountains, that is because Japanese believe nature is a place for God. That is why Torii(gate in front of the shrine) separates human world and god world! Isn’t it interesting?ﾟ.+:｡(*´ｪ`*)ﾟ.+:｡ Nature has a divine spirit! So that means in Japan, they have many gods! This is called Yaoyorozu No kami. Eight millions of Gods exists in Japan. As I told you earlier that to be thankful and to respect all nature is the way of life!
At the same time you must also fear these, if you don’t appreciate nature, you don’t know what god will do to you! You always have to consider nature=God, where fear comes in is, if you can’t be thankful and respect nature you will anger the Gods and they will punish you, that is fear! Think about this, back then a long long time ago, they used to harvest rice, vegetables, and fruit they all have to do with nature. Now think about this, if the weather gets bad, you know what will happen right?? No food No life right? I think the way of Shinto is to be humble and consider others. That is a bottom line!
I probably think that is why many Samurai were humble if you know Japanese culture we are known as humble and considerate! I think this makes sense, old traditional backgrounds make culture and nationality! In Japan nowadays they separate trash into the flammable garbage, nonflammable garbage, recyclable garbage to dump, we also invented Toyota Prius Eco car! Japanese are huge on Eco and always thinking about nature!! That type of thinking is coming from the way Shinto thinking?? Is that why they are the leader of ECO?? I don’t know maybe this is too much thought lol.
I think that is why anime, Jhorror, and other Japanese things are so deep and you can feel the meaning behind! Does somebody understand what I am talking about?? I hope so.ヾ(ﾟдﾟ*三*ﾟдﾟ)ノ This is the really deep down inside of Japanese.
Shinto’s beliefs “Yaoyorozu no Kami(八百万の神)”
I said Shinto is a religion but it is not like other religions, it is totally different from other religions. The big difference is there is no the founder of a Shinto, there is no book like the bible. What Shinto is basically about is appreciating the blessing of nature=God, have gratitude to the ancestor, give back to nature and to others to make the right path.
Pray for all of the people, nature, and animals to get along and live all together peacefully. To do these things shrines are everywhere in Japan, to be thankful for the Gods and nature!
Yaoyorozu no kami means gods dwell on everything so there are many gods exist. Since a long time ago, Japanese people feel a spirituality to animals, the wind, fire, and nature so Japanese people personified them with a feeling of awe.
The gods of Shinto aren’t perfect and absolute gods. The reason is because the gods of Shinto are the nature. You know the nature has a double-sided. When it is happy, we get a benefit and when it is mad, we get a disaster. This is something different from other religions. As if the gods of Shinto have the emotions like us. That is why Japanese people have a feeling of awe to them and treat them with their respect. It might sound like they are kissing their butt and try to get a benefit only but that is not true. They are considering eight millions of Gods like you try not to make a noise for neighbors at night.
Shinto’s god “Amaterasu Oomikami(天照大神)”
Amaterasu Oomikami is one of the Shinto goddesses and it is said that most important god in Shintoism. She is called the god of the sun. Her father is Izanagi and her mother is Izanami. They are a god and a goddess in Japanese mythology. After Izanagi looked for Izanami in the land of the dead, he purified himself. When he washed his left eye, Amaterasu Oomikami was born. Izanagi saw the shiny and warm light around Amaterasu so he let Amaterasu reign the heavens and Takamanohara/高天原(plain of high heaven).
It is said that Amaterasu created ancient Japan with her siblings and sent her grandson named, Ninigi to ancient Japan. Amaterasu told Ninigi to give the family of the emperor the three Sacred treasures(mirror, sword, and jewels). Those treasures are called Sanshu no Jingi(三種の神器).
There are many shrines that carry those treasures and believe that those are the things to dwell on for gods.
How do you say a shrine in Japanese?
It is Jinja.
Hiragana is じんじゃ.
Kanji is 神社.
Got it?? (*‘∀≦)d〃
How many shrines are in Japan?
What do you think how many shrines are in Japan? (▽〃)｡oO It is said that the number of the shrines are more than about 85ooo shrines. But there are some more shrines that are not registered so totally, over about 100000 shrines in Japan! Did this surprise you? ━━ΣΣ(ﾟДﾟ；)━━
Out of all shrines in Japan, it is said that Oomiwa Jinja(大神神社) is the oldest shrine. Oomiwa Jinja is located at Miwa, Sakurai city, Nara prefecture.
Shinto shrine “Inari shrine(稲荷神社)”
If you go to japan, you will see many shrines are called Inari shrine(稲荷神社). It’s said that the sound of Inanari(いななり/稲生) changed into Inari. Inari is Uka no Mitama no kami(倉稲魂神/うかのみたまのかみ) and this god represents the grain. So, the shrines which deify this god are called Inari Jinja.
Inari shrine is the biggest branch of Shinto shrine and it is said that the number of Inari shrine is more than 32000.
As time has passed, the center of the industry changed to a commercial business from an agriculture business. Since this, Inari became a god for a success in business. Of course, Inari is still a god for the grain(huge harvest) too.
Inari shrines have two fox statues in front of their entrance. But why is it the fox? Do you know any clue? Let’s see the reason why it is so!
Inari and fox(Kitsune/狐)
- There is something to do with Uka no Mitama no kami(倉稲魂神/うかのみたまのかみ)
- The character of fox
- A tale of fox
Those three opinions can convince you to understand why a fox is treated like a sacred animal by Japanese.
1. Actually, Uka no Mitama no kami has a different name. That is Miketsu Kami(御食津神/みけつかみ) and the old name of the fox is Ketsu(けつ/狐). As you see both of them have Ketsu on their name. This connected Miketsu Kami and fox together and As a phonetic equivalent, Miketsu kami(御食津神/みけつかみ) was called Miketsu kami(三狐神/みけつかみ) or Saguji(三狐神/サグジ). Their pronunciations are the same way(except for Saguji) but if you take a look at their Kanji carefully, they all have 狐. 狐 means fox and this is how a fox became a sacred animal to Japanese people.
2. Japanese people used to offer rice to gods. As they left their offerings in shrines, a mouse used to snatch their offerings. Do you know a fox hunt a mouse? This fox’s behavior got them to be sacred. This is how Japanese people believed that a fox protects shrines and gods.
3. Have you seen a fox? What about a tale of the fox? Doesn’t it look like something? Yes! It looks like an ear of rice. This is one of the reason too.
Aren’t they interesting? By the way, do you like Sushi? One of the Sushi is called Inarizushi. Let’s see the connection to Sushi now! ⊂(ﾟ∀ﾟ*)
Do you know this Sushi?? The rice is wrapped by a deep-fried Tofu(油揚げ/Abura Age). It tastes a little bit sweet and tastes really good! In Japan, it is said that a fox likes to eat a deep-fried Tofu. A fox shows up around a shrine to hunt mouses and Japanese people say that a fox likes to eat a deep-fried Tofu. Top of that, the color of deep-fried Tofu looks like the color of a fox. So, this Sushi is named Inarizushi.
But actually, this is not a fox’s favorite foods. At least, they really eat it, though. How come Japanese people say that a fox loves to eat a deep-fried Tofu? Let me introduce two opinions to be said this way!
- It is said that a meat of mouse tastes like a deep-fried Tofu
- After the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism, they started to give a deep-fried Tofu
1. Well, I don’t know about this one because I have never tasted a meat of mouse and I don’t really want to know how it tastes like….. So, this is one of the opinion that people say. I don’t recommend you to eat a meat of mouse!
2. If you want to know what the syncretism is, then, click this page. They used to give a fox deep-fried mouses. But after the syncretism started, to offer a dead animal are not a great idea for Buddhism so they switched deep-fried mouses to a deep-fried Tofu.
By the way, there are Kitsune Udon and Kitsune Soba in Japan. Udon and Soba are noodles and they put a deep-fried Tofu on Udon and Soba.
Shinto priest(Kannushi/神主) and Shinto maiden(Miko/巫女)
They are the workers at a shrine. I have a page for this. Click here.
The new year
In every year, Japanese new year is busy. Until the new year comes, they clean their house for the mental preparation of the coming new year, go to buy many foods for the new year foods(Osechi Ryouri), and buy the items to decorate their houses. The reason is because of the new year. Japanese people make much of this time.
The celebration of the new year is really important to Japanese people. Especially, in the first three days of the new year, their family gets together, their friends gets together, and everybody gets together for eating the new year foods, drinking Sake, and going to a shrine. To go to a shrine in the new year is called Hatsumoude(初詣). Around this time, 98000000 Japanese people go to a shrine and make their wishes! Is it unbelievable? Everywhere you go, there will be a heavy traffic!
One of the most famous shrines named, Meiji shrine(Meiji Jingu/明治神宮) in Tokyo is the most popular shrine in Japan. Over 3000000 people visit this shrine every year!
Could you understand Shinto?
About shrine and temple if you don’t know the difference, here is my other post What is the difference between a shrine and a temple?
I also have a page for how to visit a shrine and a temple.
Let’s call it a day today! I have to watch more anime lol Thank you for reading!!! Ja—ne!